Apparently, Brad Pitt's looks can kill...an ad campaign.
Hollywood's handsomest hunk has unexpectedly become the focus of controversy in the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia after the government banned car advertisements featuring Pitt--all because he was just too darn pretty.
Certain xenophobic Malaysian officials have assembled their own fight club and gone on the offensive against print and television spots, in which the actor touts Toyota's Altis line of automobiles, forcing the ads off the air.
"We cancelled the ads because they were considered an insult to Asians," Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin was quoted telling Bernama, the country's national news agency.
Maidin went so far as to say that promotions featuring western celebrities and models "plant a sense of inferiority among Asians."
"Why must we use their faces in our advertisements?" he asked. "Aren't our own people handsome enough?"
As a result, government bureaucrats decided to ax Toyota's campaign, which had been running for several weeks last summer in Malaysia and other Asian territories.
The actor had previously proven too sexy for Taiwan, as throngs of schoolgirls there kept swiping posters of Pitt's Toyota ads.
Pitt's camp did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Don't expect to see Pitt's Toyota ads on your television anytime soon. Like many Hollywood A-listers, Pitt shuns commercial work Stateside but will do an occasional spot for the Asian market, where big-name talent can command millions of dollars to endorse everything from beer to perfume without ever being accused of selling out back in North America.
For instance, Harrison Ford has sipped Kirin in commercials, Leonardo DiCaprio was purportedly paid $4 million to endorse cars and blue jeans, Ringo Starr promotes a brand of apple juice in Japan ("Ringo" in Japanese means "apple"), Anthony Hopkins hypes Honda's Avancier cars and Quentin Tarantino plugs Perfect TV. (The Website www.Japander.com has many similar examples.)
When not stirring international controversy, making car ads or simply looking good, Pitt has a day job to keep him busy.
The actor has a cameo in George Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, due out in limited release December 27. He also will voice the title role in DreamWorks' animated feature Sinbad the Sailor, coming out next May. And he's slated to star as Achilles in Wolfgang Petersen's big-budget epic Troy, set to begin shooting in April.