September 22, 2006

Do Paparazzi Go Too Far for Celebrity Photos?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 21, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: It was just another day for one shutterbug paparazzi in L.A. until Justin Timberlake and his gal pal Cameron Diaz decided to fight back. According to a police report filed by the actress, a paparazzi jumped out of a bush. The two chased after him. Then the photographer came at Diaz full speed in his car.

Is this a case of a paparazzi gone mad, or should the famous couple have left the guy alone? Star magazine editor at large Jill Dobson is with me now from L.A.

So, Jill, sorting out the facts will always be a little tricky in these things, but what do we know the facts are at this moment? Who was attacking whom?

JILL DOBSON, STAR MAGAZINE: Well, what first happened is that Cameron and Justin were leaving a friend's home in Hollywood just after midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, and apparently the paparazzi photographer was in the bushes and took a picture of them and startled them. And then according to the police report, at that point, Cameron started running after him for what she called a short distance, and at that point he got in his car and then, according to Cameron, started driving toward her. And at that point, she feared for her life and had to jump out of his way, and she actually called it assault with a deadly weapon. The car being the deadly weapon.

But the question here is: How scary was this for the photographer, because Cameron and Justin have had run-ins with the paparazzi before. In fact, in 2004, they chased after a photographer and reportedly Cameron grabbed his camera and Justin, you know, nearly hit him. So there have definitely been some tensions between this couple and the paparazzi for several years.

GIBSON: All right, now there is a new California law — we put a little fullscreen up on the screen that shows what the law includes. This goes into effect or went into effect in January of '06. It supposedly provides stronger protection for celebrities and their families. Triple the dollar damages if an assault takes place.

Does this actually put the paparazzi guy on the defensive here?

DOBSON: I think it does, and I think there is a need for a law like this. Certainly when celebrities' lives are in danger, if a photographer is coming after you in his car, or if you're driving and there are so many photographers around you that you fear for your life, there certainly has to be some legislation, especially in Hollywood, to protect the celebrities, and I think that's why this law was put into place.

GIBSON: Jill, the other thing is, people sometimes wonder why the photographers go to these lengths to get these pictures? What is a picture of Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake worth?

DOBSON: Well, a picture of them, not that exciting. However, they were recently photographed for the first time holding hands, because they generally don't show affection in public because they don't want to make the paparazzi happy. So that particular picture, not that much.

On the other hand, you know, a picture, Anna Nicole's picture of her son, the last picture of him alive, just sold in a bidding war for approximately $400,000 for the rights for magazines, plus another $250,000 for TV. So there's money in it. It just depends on how exclusive the photo is and how valuable it is for the magazines and the TV shows.

GIBSON: So this explains some of the paparazzi's motivation?

DOBSON: Right. And the real key is to either devalue your own photo, and that's like when Sarah Jessica Parker had her baby she invited the paparazzi to come take pictures of it. And that way, no one had the exclusive and people left her alone.

GIBSON: Jill, I've got to run. Jill Dobson, thanks very much.

DOBSON: Thank you.

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