Richard Gere just can’t catch a break in Asia these days. First it was the Shilpa Shetty kiss heard round the world, which led to him being threatened with lawsuits for public indecency. Then it was his outspoken remarks about the upcoming Olympics, and how the opening ceremonies should be banned due to the Chinese government’s treatment of Tibet. Both of which, yes, were either intentionally or unintentionally bound to push some buttons. But now an ad that Gere filmed for Fiat’s Lancia Delta sedan is causing an uproar. The reason? Towards the end Gere plays in the snow with some pint-sized Buddhist monks.
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Seriously? The Chinese are that paranoid that an ad with no spoken words and no overtly political message can be interpreted as inflamatory? Apparently, yes. So much so that the Italian auto maker issued a public apology, saying it feels bad for “misinterpretations of its well-established position of neutrality.” Which, let’s face it, is like saying, ‘I’m sorry you blew things out of proportion,’
“Fiat to keep running ad featuring actor Richard Gere in Tibet despite apology to China” [AP]
You’d think between launching a new restaurant in Bedford — no, make that two restaurants — and campaigning to raise awareness about the China-Tibet problem, Pound Ridge’s Richard Gere wouldn’t have time to be making movies. Well, you’d be wrong. Very wrong.
In fact, Gere is about as busy as we’ve ever seen him. He just signed on to star in two new films, according to Variety. The first is “Amelia,” an Amelia Earhart biopic starring Hilary Swank in the title role (Gere will play Earhart’s husband, publisher George Putnam) and directed by Mira Nair. That one begins filming later this month in Toronto, Nova Scotia, and South Africa.
The second film is cop drama “Brooklyn’s Finest,” is about three Brooklyn cops whose lives are following very divergent paths, yet all three end up at the scene of the same deadly location. Gere’s costars will be Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Variety also mentions that Gere is currently shooting “Hachiko,” with director Lasse Halstrom, a neighbor of Gere’s who live in Bedford and has collaborated with the actor before. Boy, that man is busy, busy, busy. I’m winded just recounting all this!
(Gere speaking at a pro-Tibet rally on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, in San Francisco: AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The Pound Ridge resident (and owner of the newly opened Barn at Bedford Post restaurant) joined in the chorus of people condemning the Chinese government for its brutal crackdown on Tibetan monks and other people protesting the country’s treatment of Tibet. Speaking to Reuters, he said, “I’ve not been pro-boycott, but I think if this is not handled correctly, yes we should boycott. Everyone should boycott.” Then, appearing on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show, he said, “This is clearly a time that if China wishes to be a world power … it cannot behave this way. Inclusive societies become great societies. Brutalizing your people is not a way to greatness.”
Here’s the full Blitzer interview:
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Gere was in Germany this week to attend the Cinema For Peace Gala and urged the nation (which currently holds the European Union and G-Eight rotating presidencies) to continue pressing China on its Human Rights record in Tibet.
The Pound Ridge star has been a longtime advocate of the Tibetan cause (if you think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen the Dalai Lama in Westchester, he was probably staying with his good friend Richard).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is a historic moment for Germany to step forward,Ã¢â‚¬? Gere told the crowd. “This is a moment of great possibility for … not just punishing but encouraging China to become part of the modern worldÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Tibet should be ever-present in any discussion with China.” (China has ruled Tibet since 1950)
The actor also met with members of the Bundestag (the German Parliament) to discuss Tibet.
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)