Fort Worth Weekly’s numerous stories during the early days of natural gas exploration in the Barnett Shale played a prominent role in research by Pennsylvania film director Josh Fox, whose documentary Gasland won a jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and is airing through 2012 on HBO.

Fox scoured Weekly stories about the Barnett Shale drilling when he first began working on Gasland. “There was one about goats dying that really hit me,” Fox said, referring to staff writer Peter Gorman’s “Water Foul,” published April 30, 2008. “I’m always happy to come to Fort Worth because it’s the starting point. In the initial research, Fort Worth had a big impact.”

Fox spoke to Static this week while in town touting ShaleTest, the newly founded nonprofit group that will provide environmental testing around gas drilling operations. DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman is the founder, and Fox and scientist Wilma Subra are among the organization’s advisors. ShaleTest will test soil, water, and air for mostly low-income families and others affected by natural gas development.


Testing will begin in about 45 days, Tillman said. Those interested in testing near their property can inquire at

Attending a ShaleTest press conference this week was State Rep. Lon Burnam, who said he is showing Gasland to Texas Senate and House of Representatives staffers this week in Austin. The Fort Worth Democrat also invited a Chesapeake Energy lobbyist and oil and gas industry spokesman to attend the screening and provide their side of the story as a counterbalance to Gasland’s strong anti-drilling stance.

“Anything is better as a dialogue than a monologue,” Burnam said. “And I figured Josh has a right to confront his accusers since they’ve trashed him on a personal level.” So far the industry representatives haven’t accepted the invitation.


Not Too Late to Look

A long, black limousine with tinted windows pulled up to the entrance at the Weekly, and out stepped the tall, thin, dark-haired, and slightly ominous musician, actor, and author Rick Springfield. Most people know him as the singer of “Jessie’s Girl” and 16 other Top 40 hits, as well as for his portrayal of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital, but he’s currently out promoting his fascinating autobiography Late, Late At Night. The book details his life, career, highs, lows, and longtime difficulty in curbing his desire for sampling the favors of female fans. In it, he describes how therapy and self-discipline through martial arts and meditation helped him gain control and become the devoted husband and father he expected of himself.

At the Weekly office, ad rep Kelly Wise handed staff writer Jeff Prince her camera and asked him to take a photo of her posing with Springfield. Prince accidentally pushed the button just as Springfield was putting his arm around Wise and — apparently — sneaking a little look at her, um, bosom. Then again, it could just be the camera angle creating that illusion. See Blotch for the photo and a Q&A.