Ben Affleck trades acting for TV reporting in Congo

Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:40pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar winner and actor Ben Affleck has taken on a new job, if only for one assignment, traveling to the war-torn eastern Congo to do a report for Thursday's edition of ABC television news program "Nightline."

Affleck has gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo three times this past year, and in an essay posted on ABC's Web site, he said he wanted to draw attention to the violence, starvation and disease in the region that kills 1,200 people a day.

"It makes sense to be skeptical about celebrity activism," wrote Affleck, 35, star of movies such as "Hollywoodland" and Oscar winner for the screenplay of "Good Will Hunting."

"There is always the suspicion that involvement with a cause may be doing more good for the spokesman than he or she is doing for the cause," Affleck said.

But Affleck said he hoped viewers could separate any reservations about his involvement from "what is unimpeachably important about this segment: the plight of eastern Congo."

Emily Lenzner, a spokeswoman for ABC News, said Affleck was not a correspondent for "Nightline," and that the program shows only one trip he took to Congo from last month.

"We basically went with a camera and a producer and just basically followed him around," Lenzner said. "It was his observations, his journey that we pretty much documented."

Accompanying Affleck were producer Max Culhane and cameraman Doug Vogt, who along with ABC journalist Bob Woodruff was injured in a 2006 roadside bomb attack in Iraq.   Continued...

<p>Actor Ben Affleck listens during a news conference at Boston City Hall October 16, 2007. REUTERS/Adam Hunger</p>