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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
De Niro no-show for Italian award
Robert De Niro
De Niro says he identifies strongly with his Italian roots
US actor Robert De Niro failed to turn up at two film events in Italy, despite flying to the country to attend.

The Italian-American film star was due to receive Milan's highest honour, the Golden Ambrosius award, from the city's mayor on Thursday.

He also failed to appear at a press conference for the New York Tribeca film festival in Rome on Friday.

In a statement issued by his publicist in Los Angeles, De Niro, 61, blamed "serious communication problems".

"It was a complicated situation, and I'm not sure how it was handled at their end, but it certainly wasn't handled properly at mine," said the star of films such as The Godfather Part II and The Untouchables.

Protests

"I was a guest in their country, and the last thing I would want to do is to offend anyone. I love Italy."

The Italian media speculated that De Niro snubbed the Milan award because of accusations that his portrayal of Mafia men damaged the country.

US-based group the Order of Sons of Italy said last month that he should not be granted Italian citizenship.

The citizenship ceremony was postponed after the group's objections but is still due to go ahead.

De Niro defended the parts he played, saying: "The characters I play are real. So they have as much right to be portrayed as any other characters."

He also said the protesters had ignored scores of other parts he had played in his career.

De Niro was born in New York after his great-grandparents emigrated to the US from Ferrazzano, in Italy's central Molise region, at the end of the 19th Century.

The Sons of Italy group's president, Joseph Sciame, wrote to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to complain about De Niro receiving the award.

He wrote: "He has done nothing to promote the image of Italians. He has damaged their image by constantly playing criminal roles that tarnish their reputation."

But the government rejected the group's request to not grant De Niro citizenship.




SEE ALSO:
De Niro fury at US Italian attack
10 Sep 04  |  Entertainment
US Italians attack De Niro prize
13 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
Cartoon sharks swim into Venice
10 Sep 04  |  Entertainment
Robert De Niro: Hollywood great
21 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
De Niro takes anti-hero honours
16 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
De Niro voted greatest star
14 Dec 01  |  Entertainment


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