Shakes On A Plane!

By Matt Dickinson 08/18/11

America's snarky coverage of Gerard Depardieu is royally pissing off the French.

Mon Depar-Dieu!

They might seem like harmless fun to most Americans, but smirking media headlines about Gerard Depardieu's airplane urination have provoked an angry backlash in France. The latest thorny chapter in US-French relations was triggered on Tuesday, when the legendary, allegedly inebriated Green Card star peed into a bottle aboard an Air France flight. Witnesses said the plane was preparing for take-off when the agitated actor—and vineyard owner—shot up from his seat and shrieked, “Je veux pisser, je veux pisser!” A flight attendant sternly ushered him back to his seat, and informed him that restrooms were locked until take-off. But unable to restrain himself any longer, he sprinted to the back of the plane and relieved himself into a bottle, splashing some of its contents on the floor. Soon after, the plane taxied back to the terminal, where Depardieu was hastily ejected, while his fellow passengers spent two hours waiting for a service to clean up after his mess. Not surprisingly, US news outlets gleefully competed to find the perfect headline to report the embarassing incident. "What A Pisser!" blared E! Online. "PeePee Le Ew," giggled the normally-staid CBS. But, still smarting over the recent arrest of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French were not amused. (Ironically, in a fact all-but-ignored by the American press,  Depardieu was reportedly in final talks to play DSK in an upcoming movie, beating out Robert De Niro.) Ever since the incident, French papers have responded with a volley of outraged editorials castigating Americans for their cruel public flogging of yet another famous Frenchman. On Wednesday, the prestigious Parisian weekly Le Nouvel Observateur even published a front-page story specifically calling out TMZ, People, The Daily News and The New York Post as examples of the American media's unfortunate plunge into "yellow journalism." Yesterday Depardieu apologized for the incident, but insisted he was not drunk. Of course, as the French took pains to point out, pissing on airplanes isn't a solely Gallic vice. Earlier this month an 18-year-old skier caused a national furor after he got drunk on a Jet Blue flight and mistakenly relieved himself on a dozing 11-year-old girl. In his defense, the chastened teen, who was arrested and promptly kicked off his team, insists that he just urinated on the aisle, not the little girl. It's uncertain how this flood of unseemly in-flight incidents will be handled by the TSA. (Maybe they'll get tougher on airlines who keep pushing alcohol on obviously wasted passengers?) After all, two such incidents in a single month might be dismissed as mere coincidence. One more and it's officially a trend.

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