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Pitt puts his movie career on hold to help Big Easy

Posted by jahanzaibmemon on December 30, 2007

The actor says he has put his Hollywood career on hold, with no film projects under way, while doing all he can to help the city recover from Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in August 2005.

The slow recovery has attracted many celebrities, among them Sean Penn, Denis Leary, Kirstie Alley, Ellen DeGeneres and New Orleans native musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis.

Few stand out as much as Pitt. He and Angelina Jolie bought a home in the French Quarter. He has pledged more than $5 million to Make It Right, the project he’s backing to rebuild 150 homes in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the city’s most impoverished areas. On Saturday he and Jolie made an appearance to promote the Children’s Health Fund’s finding that 46,000 to 64,000 children remain displaced since the hurricane.

Katrina was especially devastating in the Lower 9th. Less than 10 percent of its population has returned. Make It Right calls for construction of its first house to start by summer. Pitt has pledged to match up to $5 million in contributions. So far, more than $3.5 million has been raised.

Pitt, 43, was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Missouri, but is no stranger to New Orleans. He filmed two movies here — ”Interview With a Vampire” in the 1990s and ”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2006 and early 2007. ”Button” is due out next year.

Pitt said Make It Right and another project he launched last year with Global Green USA will help fill the need for affordable housing while also rebuilding ”smarter” with energy-saving, environmentally friendly materials.

Both projects have attracted national supporters, including Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Pitt said he hopes the city’s recovery will be a focal issue of the 2008 campaign.

”I don’t want it to be used so much as a whipping boy for past mistakes, but as a real proving ground for policies set forth, meaning education, health reform,” he said. ”If it’s going to work, it’ll work here, and this place certainly needs it.”

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