Casting Color Snafu Has Parents Seeing Red

Local children got a lesson in history, and Hollywood, on Monday. It was a sobering one.

The kids were hired as extras on a Capitol Hill shoot for "The Good Shepherd," a Robert De Niro-directed drama about the early years of the CIA.

Their scene: a Washington streetscape, circa 1961. The children spent all day on the set, getting into costume and makeup and rehearsing the shot, in which they were to cross the street in front of a car with star Matt Damon. When it came time to film, however, parents say someone issued this last-minute order: The black children have to get out of the shot.

Apparently, the crew realized it would be historically jarring to portray black and white schoolchildren mingling in a just-post-segregation era. Try telling that to a star-struck 7-year-old in 2005; Monique Johnson sure had a hard time explaining it to her daughter, Ariana. "She was wondering why she couldn't finish with the other kids," said the Silver Spring mom. Five African American children were pulled out of the group of about 25 youngsters, she said. "I sat back and watched all the black kids being escorted down the street together. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It looked like something from a long time ago."

Johnson said she understands the decision -- she just thinks it could have been handled in a more sensitive manner. (We say: Why not film some shots, then edit around them?) The five excluded children "were upset -- they were saying, 'Why can't we be in the movie?' " Their consolation prize: The ex-extras got to pose for a group photo in their costumes. (Ariana wore a vintage Brownie uniform.)

Phone messages left for staff at Carlyn Davis Casting, which provided extras, were not returned; late yesterday a receptionist said, "We have no comment and nothing to say."

A spokeswoman for New York New York Productions, which is filming "The Good Shepherd" for Universal, said: "We made a mistake somewhere. Of course, we didn't want to disappoint those kids, but we had to be historically accurate."

The company will try to make it up to the kids, she said. Somehow.

Foreign Affairs

Craig. Daniel Craig.

He's blond, he's British and he's the new James Bond, according to the London tabloids. The Hollywood types won't confirm it, but after a year-long search, the 37-year-old actor is reportedly days from becoming the sixth 007.

Craig is best known for his starring role in the BBC series "Our Friends in the North" and art house movies such as "Sylvia" and "Enduring Love." Fan favorites Jude Law, Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman were mentioned to replace Pierce Brosnan, but the real race was among lesser-known actors like Craig, Gerard Butler, Dominic West and Julian McMahon. Craig will star in next year's "Casino Royale" -- Ian Fleming's first book and 21st movie in the series.

And it looks like Craig won't need much rehearsal for the sex scenes. The newest twist in the Jude Law/Sienna Miller split is the hunky blond himself. While Law was groveling for forgiveness after sleeping with nanny Daisy Wright, Miller reportedly was fooling around with Craig, her co-star in last year's "Layer Cake" -- and a friend of Law's. Got all that?

The scorecard:

Craig: Gets role, gets girl.

Law: Loses role, loses girl.

Miller: Gets revenge, trades up.

This Just In . . .

The bad news: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) was charged with DUI Friday night while attending homecoming weekend at the University of South Dakota, his alma mater.

Brady, 50, was pulled over by a state trooper for a problem with his taillights; results of his blood-alcohol test are pending. If convicted, he faces a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. "I take full responsibility for my actions, and I am glad law enforcement is doing their job," Brady said in a statement yesterday.

The good news: The South Dakota Coyotes beat Minnesota State, Mankato, 35-14.

Birdwoman of Kyrgyzstan

You're the world's most powerful woman. Last winter you wowed them in Wiesbaden with your gold-buttoned coat and dominatrix boots. So how do you top that on yesterday's stop in Kyrgyzstan? How about accessorizing your bird of prey with a sexy leather helmet?