Josh Duhamel helping flood-stricken hometown while promoting new 'Transformers' movie

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Hollywood is getting into the Fourth of July weekend a little early with Wednesday's opening of the much-anticipated "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." It's expected to be the big money-maker over the extra-long holiday weekend, and the cast has been around the world promoting it.

Actor Josh Duhamel, who plays Maj. William Lennox, was in Moscow for the big premiere and is in New York now for the U.S. opening, but even with all of the travel, he's been keeping a close eye on his hometown of Minot, N.D., which has been devastated by major flooding.

More than just watching the devastation, he's doing what he can to help and has even been named honorary flood fund chair for the city he says he will always consider home.

"Especially now that the city is under water ... I'm trying to bring as much awareness to them as I can, trying to get people to donate to the local Red Cross," he said.

While his heart is with his hometown, he still has a job to do, and he's happy to do it, believing this installment of the "Transformers" franchise is the best so far.

Not only are the effects better with recent advancements in CGI, but the Duhamel believes the story is better, too, and that's the core of the film.

"These things [the Transformers] look like you could reach out and touch them and the action sequences are just insane," he said. "The story feels very human, and it's a little bit more grownup. It's darker than the other two, and I think people are going to dig that."

Tyrese Gibson, who has starred in the first blockbuster of the summer, agrees. "Fast Five" kicked off the summer movie season in late April/early May, raking in more than $200 million. Gibson said "Transformers" could make even more.

"It's going to be crazy," he said.

It's not clear yet if more "Transformers" movies are in the works. The actors are no longer under contract.

If the movie performs as expected, Duhamel said the studio would likely go for a fourth film.

"If I love the story, I'd love to be a part of it, but I don't want to do it just to do it" Duhamel said. "I don't want to do it just to be a moneymaker. I want it to be good."

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is third in the franchise. It's rated PG-13.