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Woody Allen goes French for peace

Allen and Soon-Yi, his wife.

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The French have hired U.S. film director Woody Allen 
Is Woody Allen the best man to promote France to the Americans?

LONDON, England (CNN) -- U.S. film director and comedian Woody Allen has made an advert for France in which he calls on Americans to put "petty" anti-French feelings behind them.

In an advert for the French Tourist Board he asks his fellow Americans to "forget about our differences."

The winner of three Oscars, including two for the 1978 comedy "Annie Hall," says he will defy a boycott of everything French by his fellow countrymen.

He will continue to eat French fries and French kiss his wife, he said.

The star asks the U.S. to forgive the French for their resistance to the latest war in Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac threatened to veto any U.S.-inspired second resolution in the U.N. Security Council which would have opened the way to military action.

Anti-French sentiments are so high that some sections in the U.S. retaliated by calling for a boycott of French products, with some going so far as to call for the renaming of French fries as freedom fries.

Some U.S. media lampooned the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," while the number of U.S. tourists visiting France in the last three months has dropped by 15 percent.

"Recently there has been a lot of controversy between the countries, and I would hope that now the two countries could put all that behind them and start to build on what really has been a great friendship," Allen said in the video.

"No one will be petty about this and we can forget about our differences and I will not have to refer to my French fried potatoes as 'freedom fries' and I don't have to freedom kiss my wife when I really want to French kiss her. So let's pull together now."

The video, called "Let's Fall in Love Again," also features chef Daniel Boulud, New York firefighter Chris Jense and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

Allen, recently voted as one of the 100 greatest movie stars in a poll by British film fans, has long been a fan of French culture. Last year at the Cannes Film Festival he defended the strength of French democracy in the face of far-right prominence.

The comedian rejected a call by American Jews to boycott the festival because of recent anti-Semitic attacks in France and the rise of the far-right.

A long-standing fan of French culture, Allen is an obvious advertising choice, at least from a French point of view.

But the decision has raised eyebrows in the United States.

"Woody Allen is bizarre choice. ... Catherine Deneuve would have been good -- the boys would appreciate her, and Johnny Depp -- the girls would appreciate him. And he lives in Paris," said Ray Bennett, a Hollywood reporter.

"I don't know why they would use Woody Allen, I don't think he has a good reputation in New York, a lot of people don't like him, so I don't think it's a good idea," said one New Yorker, Julie Belcher.

In his film "Hollywood Ending," Allen -- who plays a blind director whose film was a hit in France but a flop in America -- says: "Here I am a bum, there I am a genius. Thank God the French exist."

-- CNN's Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.

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