Hollywood star Robert De Niro has caused controversy in Italy, after failing to attend two major film events there.

The RAGING BULL OSCAR winner was due to receive Milan's highest honour the GOLDEN AMBROSIUS from the city's mayor on Thursday (14OCT04) and then attend a press conference for New York's Tribeca Film Festival in Rome on Friday (15OCT04) - but he mysteriously missed both.

Speaking through his Los Angeles publicist, 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.

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

But the controversy follows recent criticism of the actor by Italian-American group ORDER OF THE SONS OF ITALY - who complain De Niro portrays Italians as criminals and gangsters.

17/10/2004 10:29