March 5, 2006

Paparazzi Stalk L.A. for Oscar Money Shot

Some Magazines Said to Prefer Red Carpet Glamor, but Paparazzi Seek Stars Letting Their Hair Down

Many paparazzi will be working all night, hoping to snap the equivalent of last year's photo of Oscar-winner Hillary Swank eating a veggie burger at In 'n' Out Burger in her navy Guy Laroche gown.

"We're not expecting a big scoop or a new couple," said Frank Rohmer, owner of X17, a celebrity photo agency, which sells its pictures to all the big entertainment and gossip magazines. "We're trying to get good shots that no one else gets."

X17, which is sending out all 40 of its photographers to work, won't assign any to the majestic red carpet outside Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards are held, because this agency focuses solely on candid paparazzi-type shots.

"The shots we're looking for are the real ones," Rohmer said, "where you can see the happiness or the sadness."

Photographers from X17 are stationed outside in various spots in Los Angeles, such as outside the "Vanity Fair" after-party and around The Four Seasons, The Bel-Air and Chateau Marmont.

"Our guys tend to work in groups or teams," said Kelly Davis, vice president of X17. "The more people you have, the more chance you have getting the shot. They can get different angles and cover different exits."

So what's the dream shot from Oscars Night 2006?

"Reese Witherspoon with the Oscar at the end of the night, coming home," Rohmer said.

Rohmer didn't want a picture of a perfect-looking Witherspoon at 8 p.m., because the goal is to capture "the real Reese Witherspoon."

"Our job is to get the people with no makeup or as little makeup as possible, at night, tired but happy," he said. "The greatest shots from the Oscars are people late at night or the next morning."

What the Magazines Want

Frank Griffin, who co-owns the photo agency Bauer-Griffin, says that magazines are more interested in photos from the red carpet than paparazzi shots when it comes to Oscar night. He even goes so far as to call it "not a big night."

"Everybody just wants the full-length frocks and jewelry, it sells magazines," said Griffin, who assigned two of his photographers to work the red carpet.

The city may be crawling with celebrities and photographers waiting to take pictures of them, but that doesn't matter if the magazines don't aren't going to run those types of photos.

"The paparazzi don't decide what's published," said Griffin, whose agency's photos can always be found in all the major entertainment and gossip magazines.

Taking the Night Off

Some of the most successful paparazzi take Oscar night off, Griffin said, because so many photographers come in from out of town to try to get celebrity shots. Griffin estimates that 200 to 300 photographers come to Los Angeles in hopes of taking that special shot or as he puts it, "get their wings."

"They all go park outside the Ivy," said Griffin, referring to a restaurant popular with A-listers.

Photographers from Pacific Coast News, a two-year-old British photo agency that has a center of operations in Los Angeles, also take Oscar night off because the agency was unable to get media accreditations for the red carpet or for any of the big parties.

"We are forced to ignore it because of the stupid restrictions," said Matt Carrington, senior photo editor at Pacific Coast News, an agency which sells its photos to a number of magazines, including OK! This will be first the first time in five years that Carrington, who used to work with Splash News, won't be working on Oscar night.

"One, they won't allow us to [photograph it], even though we are totally legitimate," he added. "Two, the parties have so much security, we can't be roving around. We made the conscious decision to let it go."

Carrington said he doesn't feel that it's worth it to stake out In 'n' Out Burger in case of any of the stars feel like a snack.

"That was pure luck," said Carrington, referring to the photographers getting that shot last year. "That was a one-off."

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