According to Olivier Francois, Chief Executive Officer of Lancia, Richard Gere was chosen for a recent ad for the Lancia Delta because he "is not merely a fine actor; not merely one of the most famous men in the world. He is a man with a great difference: the ability to combine talent, fame and style with great character. I'm talking about his commitment to peace." That affinity for peace stretches especially towards the people of Tibet, a people who's autonomy from China Gere supports.

This commercial, which you can watch after the break, features Gere driving a new Lancia Delta from Hollywood to Tibet in just 30 seconds and aired in Italy. After reports of the commercial appeared in Chinese newspapers, China was apparently none too happy about it. Fiat has decided to apologize, with a company spokesman saying, "Fiat Group extends its apologies to the Government of the People's Republic of China and to the Chinese people."

Our opinion? Gere's alright in Pretty Woman, but not much else after that. Apologies are usually pretty lame, but we'd appreciate one for Gere's horrible singing in Chicago as long as they are being handed out so freely. And how 'bout one for that Lancia's front end?

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]