June 29, 2007

City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.

Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.

Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.

“These rules will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,” said Christopher Dunn, the group’s associate legal director.

Mr. Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules. In a letter sent to the film office this week, Mr. Dunn said the proposed rules would potentially apply to tourists in places like Times Square, Rockefeller Center or ground zero, “where people routinely congregate for more than half an hour and photograph or film.”

The rule could also apply to people waiting in line to enter the Empire State Building or other tourist attractions.

The rules define a “single site” as any area within 100 feet of where filming begins. Under the rules, the two or more people would not actually have to be filming, but could simply be holding an ordinary camera and talking to each other.

The rules are intended to set standards for professional filmmakers and photographers, said Ms. Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, but the language of the draft makes no such distinction.

“While the permitting scheme does not distinguish between commercial and other types of filming, we anticipate that these rules will have minimal, if any, impact on tourists and recreational photographers, including those that use tripods,” Ms. Cho said in an e-mail response to questions.

Mr. Dunn said that the civil liberties union asked repeatedly for such a distinction in negotiations on the rules but that city officials refused, ostensibly to avoid creating loopholes that could be exploited by professional filmmakers and photographers.

City officials would not confirm that yesterday. But Mark W. Muschenheim, a lawyer with the city’s law department, which helped draft the rules, said, “There are few instances, if any, where the casual tourist would be affected.”

The film office held a public hearing on the proposed rules yesterday, but no one attended. The only written comments the department received were from the civil liberties group, Ms. Cho said.

Ms. Cho said the office expected to publish a final version of the rules at the end of July. They would go into effect a month later.

The permits would be free and applications could be obtained online, Ms. Cho said. The draft rules say the office could take up to 30 days to issue a permit, but Ms. Cho said she expected that most would be issued within 24 hours.

Mr. Dunn says that in addition to the rules being overreaching, they would also create enforcement problems.

“Your everyday person out there with a camcorder is never going to know about the rules,” Mr. Dunn said. “It completely opens the door to discriminatory enforcement of the permit requirements, and that is of enormous concern to us because the people who are going to get pointed out are the people who have dark skin or who are shooting in certain locations.”

The rules were promulgated as a result of just such a case, Mr. Dunn said.

In May 2005, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian documentary filmmaker, was using a hand-held video camera in Midtown Manhattan when he was detained for several hours and questioned by police.

During his detention, Mr. Sharma was told he was required to have a permit to film on city property. According to a lawsuit, Mr. Sharma sought information about how permits were granted and who was required to have one but found there were no written guidelines. Nonetheless, the film office told him he was required to have a permit, but when he applied, the office refused to grant him one and would not give him a written explanation of its refusal.

As part of a settlement reached in April, the film office agreed to establish written rules for issuing permits. Mr. Sharma could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Dunn said most of the new rules were reasonable. Notably, someone using a hand-held video camera, as Mr. Sharma was doing, would no longer have to get a permit.

Perez Hilton In Alien Paparazzi Suit

Claims copycat blog's use of illegals creates unfair competition

Finally, a lawsuit in which Perez Hilton is not being accused of copyright violations.

In fact, the gossip blogger (real name: Mario Lavandeira) is the one suing this time, claiming that a rogue Los Angeles photo agency is unfairly competing against his blog by, among other things, employing a platoon of illegal aliens who physically threaten the paparazzi competition.

Filed yesterday, Lavandeira's Los Angeles Superior Court complaint (a copy of which you'll find below) alleges that the X17 agency's owners engage in "illegal and unethical business practices" and that they exploit the company's photographers, many of whom are "from Brazil or other countries" and are "believed to be illegal aliens." He also charges that the agency may "employ photographers with criminal backgrounds and/or gang affiliations."

Click here to catch the rest of the story at THE SMOKING GUN.


British pop star LILY ALLEN has been arrested for kung-fu kicking a member of London's paparazzi earlier this year (07).

The Smile singer allegedly beat up photographers outside a London nightclub on 12 March (07), kicking and punching at least two snappers.

On Thursday (28Jun07), she was formally arrested and questioned by police regarding the scuffle.

Photographer Kevin Rush said at the time of the alleged attack, "She went berserk." Allen was released on bail from the West End Central police station after providing officers with her fingerprints, a DNA sample and a photograph.

A spokesperson for London's Metropolitan Police says, "A 21-year-old woman was arrested over an allegation of assault and released on bail to return in late July (07)."

June 24, 2007

LIVE FREE, DIE HARD on a Friday Night

Radio City Music Hall, June 22, 2007, 8:30pm

Well, I don't think anyone can complain about the amount of space they allowed for the stills. The arrival area ran from 51st to 50th Street along 6th Avenue. Although it was a bit odd to have us in the street taking up a lane of traffic.

Everything ran smoothly until Demi and Ashton showed up with her kids. It was at that point where everyone that was towards the begining of the carpet began to run down towards the end of the carpet to double dip.

This caused a serge of people to flood an already tight space. The barricades almost gave way and fell forwards towards Demi and Ashton. You could actually see a bit of fear on Demi's face. Security and police now flooded the carpet to secure the barricades while everyone was yelling and pushing for a shot.

It was quite a clusterf**k!

June 21, 2007

Perez Hilton blog having problems

In what may be the first hit against bloggerazzi star Perez Hilton's empire, his main webhost has dropped Perezhilton.com.

After numerous warnings against Hilton's (aka Mario Lavandeira) use of copyrighted celebrity images, the Oz-based Crucial Paradigm took the site off line; it was dark for a number of hours before it returned to the Internet with a different host.

Hilton is currently named in four lawsuits involving eight photo agencies for his alleged theft of photographs that appear on his site, one that's been a popular gossip destination for some 2½ years. Hilton frequently adds his own captions to the shots.

"One of the things the (Crucial) administrator in Sydney had told us the day before was if they received any more notices -- any claim of copyright infringement -- the site is coming down immediately," said Matt Lum, owner of Hoodlum Productions, the L.A.-based company that manages Hilton's site. "The action was taken, in my opinion, to insure Crucial some sort of proof if they were sued, some way to protect themselves."

Crucial Paradigm had no comment on the action.

Hilton's site is up and running, albeit on less than full power.

"He has a skeleton or temporary situation where he can still post," Lum explained. "It has limited inter-activity, his archives are not there and things like that. We've enabled him to continue to do what he does to a limited degree until we can figure how to handle the larger situation."

What he does -- limited or not -- is exactly the problem, from the agency point of view.

"It's the first victory, and we put a lot of work into trying to get this to happen," said Francois Navarre, co-owner of L.A.-based X17 agency. His company has filed a suit against Hilton, claiming that Hilton has been using X17 images for nearly a year. "It's a precedent that's huge. When we were talking to Crucial Paradigm they were saying they were not responsible, dragging their feet. We had to threaten them and show them they were liable. His new host is Blogads, and we're contacting them already."

"If it's correct, it's a very important event in our client's lawsuit," stated Nick Penkovsky, a member of the legal team representing five agencies suing Hilton. "It's always been our position that this lawsuit is not simply about protecting our clients' work, but that copyrighted work is not free to be poached for posting on the Internet without permission and compensation."

June 16, 2007

Angelina Jolie Helps Stranded Paparazzi

Actress Angelina Jolie did her daily good deed when she stopped and helped a photographer who had a flat tire in New York.

Celebrity photographer James Ambler was trailing the star of "A Mighty Heart" around New York on his bike, when he popped one of his tires, People magazine reported Saturday.

While figuring out what he was going to do, Jolie's car pulled up to him and the driver asked if he wanted a ride. Ambler, whose nickname is "Lance" after cycling champ Lance Armstrong, then heard Jolie herself say, "Come on Lance, hop in."

While riding, Jolie reportedly told Ambler she was appreciative of the space some of the photographers were giving her children. He added he was not sure exactly how much time he spent in the car with Jolie, "Time stood still," he said.

He described the actress as "really down to earth, really lovely."

Stevie Wonder Joins the Paparazzi

This is pretty funny...

June 13, 2007

A MIGHTY HEARTy Press Pen for Branjelina

Ziegfeld Theater, 6pm arrivals

Initial reports are that photographers starting arriving at 6:30 am.

By 7am there were 8 shooters, by 10:30am - there were 30.

By the start time of the premiere at 6pm, about 75 photographers packed the arrivals area. Photographers were stacked 3-4 rows deep in a sea of milk crates and turtle stools. James D. was balanced on a barricade, holding onto the top of the tent, while shooting. Madness!

Branjelina arrived about 6:30pm and walked in the street, greeting and signing autographs for fans. As usual, they graciously posed for the entire press line.

In hindsight, I wonder if waiting 12 hours was really worth it. (Thank god I didn't...LOL)

June 12, 2007

Nick Lachey to paparazzo: “I’m going to fucking kill you.."

Nick Lachey is being accused of grabbing a photographer by the neck and shoving him, while simultaneously whispering into his ear, “I’m going to fucking kill you if I ever see you again!” This following the paparazzo directing a “nasty” comment toward Lachey’s girlfriend, Vanessa Minnillo.

John Travolta reveals nocturnal secret to avoiding paparazzi

John Travolta has found the best way to avoid the paparazzi is to stay up all night and sleep half of the day, the Hollywood star reveals in an interview to be published this weekend.

The 53-year-old star of blockbusters such as "Pulp Fiction," "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease," told the latest edition of Parade Magazine due out Sunday that his whole family had adopted the lifestyle to maintain their privacy.

"We're like the Addams family or the Munsters, living sort of an odd, nocturnal life," Travolta told the magazine.

"My kids probably stay up too late. My wife goes to bed around three, and I follow around seven," he told the magazine in an interview conducted at 2am.

"Right now, there's just you and me, and no one interfering in our space," he said.


Hollywood — Now that Paris Hilton is back in jail and out of the public eye, 100 paparazzi who have been laid off due to lack of work are suing the Los Angeles judge who returned her to prison. “I am out of work now because that bastard, Judge Michael Sauer, took her away from us,” said celebrity photographer Michael Lantora, who lost his job after Hilton returned to jail.

Celebrity photo agencies throughout Hollywood laid off over 100 paparazzi Monday, claiming the move was necessary due to the unexpected absence of their two most popular subjects .

“With Paris in jail and Lindsay Lohan in rehab, we just can’t afford to keep so many paparazzi on the payroll,” said Flash CelebPhotos spokesperson Craig Middleton. “We can’t realistically pay more than 17 people to track Brangelina.”

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca had released Hilton to house arrest for undisclosed health reasons last week. But after a public outcry, Hilton was brought back before the judge and was returned to jail. Lohan, meanwhile, has been in rehab at Promises treatment center in Malibu for several weeks.

“Since Paris and Lindsay have been out of the picture. I haven’t been able to get any good shots,” said unemployed paparazzo Miguel Andreas. “The best I got last week was David Faustino (‘Bud’ on ‘Married with Children’) giving change to a customer at Popeye’s Chicken. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to sell it.”

Paparazzi industry insiders say their industry’s recession is only worsened by Britney Spears’ decision to vacation in Puerto Vallarta. While unflattering photos that show her wearing a white-and-turquoise bikini that revealed her not-so-toned backside have appeared, they were all taken by Mexican paparazzi.

“It’s outrageous that our jobs are being stolen by Mexican photographers who sell their pictures of Britney’s flabby ass for just $5 each,” said Andreas. “I can’t compete with those low wages and still feed my family.”

Celebrity media ethicists argued that while photo agencies may save money in the short-term, the layoffs are bad for the industry and democracy in the long-run.

“When you make such severe cuts in the paparazzi, you aren’t prepared for the next potential crisis,” Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten wrote in a recent column. “I fear that our nation is now woefully underprepared for the possibility that one of the Olsen Twins cold come to visit from New York and puke her dinner in an alleyway, or get caught sniffing a few lines in a bathroom. What if we don’t get those photos because the paparazzi is stretched too thin? These are frightening questions.”

June 8, 2007

Hilton Ordered Back to Jail

This shot has my vote for the Photo of the Year! Priceless!

Paris Hilton was just ordered back to jail in Lynwood to serve out the remainder of her sentence! She'll get credit for at least 5 days already served.

Hilton left the courtroom in tears, screaming, "Mom, Mom, Mom." Hilton was also heard saying "It's not right."

One witness described the scene as: Paris was "physically escorted" out of the courtroom by a female deputy.

Hilton's mother was later seen pacing the hallways, telling reporters, "I'm paralyzed right now." Paris' father Rick is still in the courtroom.

June 6, 2007

Doorman cut in scrap with fotog in SoHo

Fight with photographer started over bike parking

A doorman at the SoHo Grand Hotel was hurt yesterday after he got into a scuffle with a freelance photographer outside the posh Manhattan hotel, cops and witnesses said.

The 42-year-old victim, whose name was not released by cops, was slashed on his right wrist, possibly with a key, during the 12:20p.m. fracas, cops and witnesses said.

The two men began to fight after the doorman told the shutterbug he could not park his green mountain bike in front of the hotel at 310 W. Broadway, cops said.

The argument escalated "like a volcano," a 31-year-old witness said.

"And then they started fighting."

The doorman was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan in stable condition, authorities said.

The assailant, who was described as a white male in his 30s wearing camouflage pants, fled west toward Canal St. after the dustup. He was being sought by police late yesterday.

I SWEAR it wasn't me! But that's a damn close description...LOL.

June 5, 2007

Woman Thrown Out of Jail Trying to Sneak Paris Hilton Pictures

Lynwood Calif. A female paparazzi was thrown out of the, Century Regional Detention Facility, now known as, "THE PARIS HILTON", today when it was discovered she was an imposter posing as a prisoner that was suppose to serve 30 days.

Susan Sunset, a Los Angeles area photographer, switched places with, Betty Tisdale, a woman convicted of DUI. Betty Tisdale was suppose to turn herself in to do 30 days on June 5th but Susan Sunset impersonated her in an attempt to attain photographs of Paris Hilton in jail.
Apparently the woman, Susan Sunset, had been surgically altered to have a micro camera inserted in her breast with the hopes of getting the highly prized Paris Hilton photographs. It appears one breast had the micro cam and her other nipple was the shutter button.

A guard volunteered, "she was behaving very strangely, every time she saw Paris Hilton she'd jut out her breasts like she had some kind of back spasms. Upon closer inspection we discovered every time she'd move a certain way you'd hear a shutter go off".

After a visit to the infirmary it was determined she did indeed have a camera implanted in her breast. "We've all heard rumors about how ruthless the paparazzi could be but this goes beyond all expectations and totally goes off the ridicules, Richter scale". Said a jail nurse.

Any photographs attained during her short stay would have been destroyed
after the extensive Xrays taken to determine what was going on.

Susan Sunset was thrown out of jail and the District Attorney is most likely going to file charges against her for impersonating a prisoner and a lot of other charges yet to be determined.

This is the first time in Los Angeles County Jail history someone was thrown out of jail for breaking into jail.

Ohhh c'mon folks... it's all for the sake of comedy. Laugh a little!

And for you s-l-o-w people... this is what we call parody!

June 4, 2007

Paris Hilton checks into L.A. County Jail

Paris Hilton checked in early to her new accommodations Sunday as she surrendered to Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies to begin serving a 23-day jail sentence on a probation violation. In contrast to her very public persona, the 26-year-old heiress, the star of the "Simple Life," slipped in for booking nearly unnoticed by the media and most of the paparazzi, which already had been massing at the 2,200 inmate facility since last week.

Officials at some of the biggest paparazzi agencies say they have been planning for weeks how to get images of Hilton while behind bars.

Sheriff Lee Baca told The Times that his deputies have taken aggressive steps that he hoped would prevent cameras from being smuggled into the jail -- which some photo agencies have said is a possibility because of the price a shot of Hilton in jail would bring.

They said photos of her behind bars could sell for $500,000. Although Baca said the heiress was a "class by herself" in the publicity department, he said Hilton will remain as isolated as possible but will follow the same rules other inmates face.