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Crystal Dawne, right, talks with Kate Oliver

Actors hope for &

145;God&

Hundreds of aspiring actors and actresses converged on the Ashland Springs Hotel this week to audition for parts in the upcoming dramatic feature film, &

Conversations With God: The Human Story.&

According to Lisa Schneiderman, on-site unit publicist for &

CWG,&

hopefuls have come from as far away as Australia, Ireland and across America. The response, Schneiderman said, has been overwhelming.

— — — Neale Donald Walsch, author of the book series, stands — outside of the Ashland Springs Hotel.

— —

The movie, slated to begin shooting in November in Ashland and the surrounding Rogue Valley, is based on the successful books, &

Conversations With God,&

written by Ashland resident Neale Donald Walsch. The film will tell the story of Walsch, who, at his lowest point, found himself in Ashland, recovering from a broken neck as the result of an automobile accident.

He was out of work, his marriage had recently failed, and he was homeless, living in a local park. He spent his days collecting cans to return for 5 cents each to have enough money to eat. The year was 1992. It was, he writes in his bio, a period of deep despair.

Then one February night, he woke and wrote what he characterizes as an anguished letter to God. &

What does it take to make life work?&

he asked. To his astonishment, he received what he refers to as a divine answer.

Walsch states that he heard a voice, &

soft and kind, warm and loving, that gave him an answer to this and other questions.&

He quickly scribbled these responses onto a tablet. More questions came and more answers from God followed in the same soft voice.

Those handwritten notes became the first of a best-selling trilogy titled &

Conversations With God,&

books that have sold over 7 million copies worldwide, in 34 languages, and spent almost three years on the New York Times best-seller list.

On Walsch&

s CWG Foundation Web site, 21 books are listed, beginning with &

Conversations with God Book 1&

and continuing with titles such as &

What God Wants,&

&

Conversations with God for Teens,&

&

Neal Donald Walsch on Abundance and Right Livelihood.&

All are predicated on Walsch&

s ongoing dialogue with God, touching on subjects such as prosperity, relationships, and the nature of spiritual truth, with God offering, as a summary of book one says, &

clear, understandable answers.&

&

CWG&

will be produced and directed by veteran Hollywood producer Stephen Simon, an Ashland resident who has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, producing more than 25 motion pictures, including &

Somewhere in Time,&

&

All the Right Moves&

and &

Bill and Ted&

s Excellent Adventure.&

— — — Stephen Simon is the director and producer of the — movie &

Conversations With God.&

— —

His most recent production, and his directorial debut, &

Indigo,&

was filmed in Ashland. He is also the author of the book &

The Force is With You: Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire Our Lives.&

Simon is the co-founder of Cinema Circle Inc., the parent company of the Spiritual Cinema Circle, a monthly DVD subscription service for motion pictures and the Transformational Book Circle, a monthly book club. The Circle is financing the $2 million project.

Simon stated that the film, which has no Hollywood backing, and which he has dreamed of making for 10 years, will tell a dramatic story and will be a &

powerful, mystical, controversial and surprising film.&

When asked why it would be controversial, both Walsch and Simon agreed that it was because embedded in the film was the question, &

Does God really talk to Neal?&

Walsch commented that &

If God had a message to leave with humanity it would be pretty simple: &

145;You&

ve got me all wrong.&

&

Simon also offered that, according to polls, some 20 to 30 percent of Americans call themselves spiritual, which does not mean religious in the traditional sense. It is that audience that CWG will be geared for, in the same way that Mel Gibson&

s &

The Passion of the Christ&

was made for a specific audience.

Eric DelaBarre is the screenwriter for the project and won &

Filmmaker of the Future&

at the Newport Beach International Film Festival for writing, producing and directing his first feature, &

Kate&

s Addiction.&

He has also authored the book &

Why Not (Start Living Your Life Today)&

and spent six years as a writer/director/producer on NBC&

s &

Law Order.&

Initial casting for the film, which is taking place at the Ashland Springs Hotel, should be finished by Thursday, with call-backs slated for Friday. The final cast announcements will be made sometime thereafter. Schneiderman stated that the role of Neal Donald Walsch had not been cast as of yet but will happen in the near future. When asked if it was likely to be a local actor, she commented that they are looking at all possibilities.

— — Dawn Sturgeon fills out paperwork to be an extra — in the film &

Conversations With God&

outside of the Ashland Springs — Hotel.

Filming, due to start Nov. 7, should run some five weeks. The world premiere is scheduled for late October 2006.