February 29, 2008

Theron praises paparazzi

Hollywood actress Charlize Theron has a high opinion of paparazzi photographers - insisting she prefers their candid snaps to glossy magazine photoshoots.
Hollywood actress Charlize Theron has a high opinion of paparazzi photographers - insisting she prefers their candid snaps to glossy magazine photoshoots.

The South African star refuses to condone the "tactics" used by many snappers who go to extreme lengths to get pictures of celebrities - insisting she would much rather see images of celebrities looking bad in the media than perfect because it sets unattainable standards for youngsters.

She tells the New York Times: "I don't like the tactics of the paparazzi, but in some ways, I almost prefer their unflattering shots to the glossy images in magazines. I like to see the human underneath."

February 28, 2008

Teenaged Paparazzi

Blaine and Austin, New York Times
Blaine, left, and Austin, right. Photo by Axel Koester for The New York Times

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story on the “Rise of the ‘Citizen Paparazzi,’” and the emergence of “regular folk who… happen to bump into celebrities while carrying digital cameras.” One photographer profiled was 18-year old Justin Campbell, an NYC college student, who got his start when he snapped Kirstie Alley eating a pie “right when she was doing the Jenny Craig thing,” and is one of the star photographers of his paparazzi photo agency.

This story follows on the heels of a New York Times article, published last October, that profiled two pubescent friends, Blaine, 15, and Austin, 14, who ran around Hollywood, snapping shots of celebrities alongside older, “sullen paparazzi with rumpled clothes and tired expressions.” Blaine spoke of being pushed to the ground by a bouncer and taunted by celebrities like David Spade, who called him “pipsqueak paparazzi.”

All three teenaged paparazzi are, or have been represented by the Buzz Foto agency, whose tagline is “Paparazzi is an Art Form!” The agency’s owner, Brad Elterman, is quoted in both articles as saying his young protégés remind him of himself when he was their age. (He has since dropped Blaine and Austin, because, “If something happened to one of these kids, I don’t know what I would do.”)

Poignantly, in the New York Times article, Blaine says, “I want to be friends with the celebrities more than take photos of them. I kind of wish I was going to the parties with them.” And later, one of the jaded paparazzi tells him, “There’s no innocence in the paparazzi business, homey. I told you, once you cross over, you’re done. You’re on the dark side, homes.”

February 26, 2008

Struggling Web Pioneer Getty Images Going Private In Buyout

Getty Images Inc., which sells stock photography and video footage, said Monday it has agreed to a $2.1 billion buyout from the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC.

Getty, founded more than a decade ago, put itself up for sale in January. It is a major creator and distributor of photos and other digital media. Hellman & Friedman has offices in San Francisco, New York and London.

According to an announcement by Getty, Hellman & Friedman has offered $34 a share in cash for all of Getty's shares, and its board has approved the deal. That is a 55 percent premium over Getty's closing price on Jan. 18, the last trading day before it announced it was looking for a buyer, and a 39 percent premium over Friday's close.

Getty shares climbed $7.66, or 31.3 percent, to $32.11 in morning trading Monday.

Based on Getty's 61 million fully-diluted shares, the cash offer is worth almost $2.1 billion. The buyer is also assuming about $300 million in debt, pushing the total value of the transaction to $2.4 billion.

The deal requires shareholder approval. Closing is expected in the second quarter.

London Features to Photographers: Pack up and get out

The London Features' NY office is closing and they have informed their photographers to come in, sort and remove their slides by the begining of March 2008.

It has become a daunting task. The office has 200+ file cabinets, alphabetical order by talent and event. So it is impossible to know which cabinet has whose photos. From early reports, it's taking photographers a day per cabinet.

The system they devised is; whomever shows up and pulls slides, pulls for everyone else in the office. So boxes of slides by individual photographers are filling up.

It is rumored that LFI has changed the passwords on their site, not allowing photographer to download their work in digital form. More as I get updates...

It is unclear what LFI's future intentions are, but LFI London has said they will still represent photographers work in Europe, but not here in the US.

No word about back payments or pending US sales...


February 21, 2008


Ashton Kutcher's birthday bash has turned into medical nightmare.

A bartender at the New York club Socialista, where his wife Demi Moore hosted an A-list bash, has tested positive for Hepatitis A, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced today, meaning Ashton and his guests need to get tested too due to exposure.

"In response to a case of Hepatitis A in a bartender at Socialista in Manhattan, the Health Department today notified patrons of the exposure and urged them to get a hepatitis A vaccination as a precautionary measure," the Health Department statement reads. "Hepatitis A is spread by putting something in one's mouth (even though it might look clean) that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person. Any patron who visited the establishment after 8 p.m. on February 7th or 8th, or after 10 p.m. on February 11th (the times the infected person worked after becoming infectious), is considered to be at risk and needs a preventive shot. "

Those in attendance at Ashton's Feb. 7 party included Kate Hudson, Madonna, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Liv Tyler, Roberto Cavalli, and past OK! cover boy Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart.

Hep A is a viral liver disease. Recovery takes a few weeks with bed rest and alcohol abstinence. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Once the symptoms appear, there are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat it.

February 19, 2008

Kate Hudson Wants To Make It Illegal For Paparazzi To Chase Hollywood Kids

Kate Hudson is "bothered" over the paparazzi's aggressiveness in taking pictures of celebrities' kids.

Hudson, who is mother to 4-year-old son Ryder, says it should be made illegal for paparazzi to pursue Hollywood broods.

"It bothers me, it bothers my parents. Ryder doesn't know what that is. He's four years old."

"It's aggressive, it's bizarre and it makes him self-conscious. And kids should always be kids, they should never be self-conscious of what they're doing."

Perhaps the 28-year-old actress understands it better than anyone else. Being a daughter of famous parents, Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson, she knows how hard it is for children to be photographed and pursued ruthlessly by the paparazzi.

"That should be illegal."

Hudson isn't the only one to speak of issue. Mary-Louise Parker has also lashed out last week at the snappers over their merciless chase of her co-star Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's children.

"I think it's inhumane. The media's gotten more and more salacious. They're just ruthless."

Parker also adds: "As people, I think it's our duty to protect children at whatever cost and they really exploit the children of celebrities, especially their (Pitt and Jolie's) children, at whatever cost to get a picture of them."

"It feels really immoral to me. It's not fair for them. I think they actually handle it well."

February 15, 2008

Briefing: A swarm of paparazzi

Celebrities have long been hounded by photographers, but in the age of Britney, Lindsay, and Paris, the hunt has escalated into blood sport. Why have the paparazzi become so aggressive?

Why are some photographers called paparazzi?
The term has its origins in the 1960 Fellini film La Dolce Vita, which featured an unsavory photographer named Paparazzo—a dialect word for an irksome, buzzing mosquito. For decades, a few dozen paparazzi have made a living swarming around A-list hotspots in Los Angeles, New York, and London, waiting for a big star to show up. They then sell their photos—the more candid and embarrassing, the better—to supermarket tabloids, celebrity magazines, and photo agencies. But as the market for celebrity photos has exploded over the past decade, a more aggressive subset, known as “stalkerazzi,” has evolved. They hunt the famous wherever they go, by foot, by car, and even by helicopter. After Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi, there were calls for new laws to bar such pursuits. But the outcry faded, and since then, the paparazzi have gotten even more aggressive.

What tactics do they use?
Paparazzi work a lot like private detectives, developing a network of informants, and plotting out the day-to-day movements of their quarry. One paparazzo posed as a relative of Michael Douglas to gain access to the hospital at which his son was born. Another camped out near Jennifer Aniston’s home and used a telephoto lens to shoot pictures through her window, capturing a topless shot. Now that their aggressive tactics have gotten them barred from the clubs and restaurants that the rich and famous frequent, paparazzi have been known to set off fire alarms to force an evacuation to the street, where they can photograph their targets. Paparazzi also have taken to pursuing celebrities in cars, whether they’re having a night out on the town or headed to the supermarket.

How common are such chases?
In the last few years, there have been dozens of incidents. Lindsay Lohan suffered cuts and bruises when a paparazzo crashed into her car after she made a sudden U-turn. Scarlett Johansson sideswiped another car while fleeing swarms of paparazzi who had chased her for an hour. A paparazzo intentionally bumped into Catherine Zeta-Jones to force her out of her vehicle. Just last month, four paparazzi were arrested and charged with reckless driving while chasing Britney Spears.

Why is the paparazzi corps growing?
It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Celebrity-oriented magazines such as People and Us Weekly are more popular than ever, while newer gossip Web sites such as TMZ.com are drawing millions of users. These gossip-hungry publications get larger audiences when they can deliver, say, a photo of a drunken Lohan or the first picture showing Angelina Jolie looking pregnant. As a result, paparazzi can charge more for such photos, and the promise of riches has attracted more people to the field. Ten years ago, there were a handful of celebrity photo agencies in L.A. and about 25 paparazzi trolling the streets. Today, there are about 200 paparazzi in L.A. and dozens more in New York.

How much do they charge?
A garden-variety picture of Jerry Seinfeld sipping a latte at Starbucks may sell for a few hundred dollars. But a worldwide exclusive of a huge star in the right circumstances can yield tens of thousands of dollars or more. A shot of Lohan passed out in her car after leaving a bar went for $100,000. Paris Hilton’s 2006 arrest (in handcuffs) sold for $150,000. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s first kiss captured on film went for $300,000. Britney Spears images are now in such demand that she has fueled an entire cottage industry.

Is there anything wrong with all this?
Aside from the obvious moral issues, there is a legitimate public-safety concern. As paparazzi chases through the streets of Los Angeles become more common, police say both the pursuers and pursued tend to ignore speed limits and other traffic laws—risking not only their own lives but also those of innocent bystanders. Citing safety, Hollywood actors are lobbying for laws barring paparazzi from following them around. But paparazzi say the safety issue is a smokescreen, and that celebrities simply resent that other people get to make money off their images. “They say it’s safety, but the real reason is they want to have control,” says Randy Bauer, who owns a celebrity photo agency in L.A. “They figure if they are going to have their face out there, they want a piece of the action.”

Shouldn’t stars control their own images?

The courts have repeatedly held that public figures have a very limited right to privacy. So once celebrities venture out into public, free-press guarantees make it perfectly legal for photographers to take their picture. “If you’re getting paid $20 million a movie,” says Us Weekly editor in chief Janice Min, “you have to accept the fact that you’re a public commodity.” Still, it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for celebrities who cannot pick up their kids at school, or run out for a quart of milk in their sweatpants, without being swarmed by paparazzi shouting insults and hunting for the least flattering image. “They want incendiary reactions,” says publicist Michael Levine, who has represented Demi Moore and other stars. “Why be a real journalist when you can call Alec Baldwin a moron and get a good photo of him smashing your head?”

February 13, 2008

People Magazine, Paparazzi Hound Michelle Williams

Here's a funny website asking it's readers to email People Magazine and Splash this letter of disgust:


Dear People Magazine and Splash News Online,

We find it to be a sleazy, trashy, sensationalistic excuse for news that you have Heath Ledger's family and Michelle Williams on your front pages in their most private grieving moments. To pay photographers for pictures of a family at a private memorial service and on their way home from one - who explicitly requested that you allow them time to heal outside of the public eye - is amoral and disgusting.

Instead of appealing to your morals, however (since those so heavily lack in the media these days), we simply request that you cease to publish such material. We are regular readers of your website(s) and magazine, but will completely stop purchasing and visiting should you choose to ignore this e-mail and continue with your invasive treatment of these families.

Do you plan to publish further paparazzi photos of Michelle Williams going to the store? Or will you grow a heart?



Hayek Furious About Paparazzi Stand-Off

Salma Hayek flew into a rage in New York on Tuesday morning after she spotted a photographer trying to take close-ups of her baby daughter.

The protective mom lashed out at the paparazzo as she left her hotel on Fifth Avenue with four-month-old Valentina Paloma.

Hayek screamed at the snapper to stay away and then attempted to shield her baby from the flashbulbs.

February 11, 2008

7 Recent Attacks on the Paparazzi by Celebrities

Quentin Tarantino Attacks
Tarantino has apparently been watching too many of his own movies to think he’s bad ass enough to fight anybody.

More celebrities who think they’re more badass than they actually are (and one who probably is that badass)

James Gandolfini Attacks
He actually attacks a fan, not the paparazzi. The thing that aggravates me the most about this is that this douchebag fan no doubt loved it…”Duuuuude, Tony Soprano totally attacked me…AWESOME!”. Where’s Paulie Walnuts when you need him?

Coldplay’s Chris Martin Attacks
Playing whiny music does not, in fact, make you a badass.

Justing Timberlake Attacks
This is a very wimpy attack, but it’s Justin Timberlake for fuck’s sake. What do you expect? Unless we’re talking about a dance-fight, he knows better than to start some shit

Mini-Me Attacks
He really only flicks a booger at the guy and tells him to “fuck off” (way later in the video. Not worth watching the whole thing for), but the dude is like 3 ft. tall. What the hell else is he going to do?

Amy Winehouse Attacks
She takes a swing anyway, but to her credit she was probably so whacked out of her mind that she thought she kicked his ass. Score one for the moral victory.

Britney Spears Attacks
In what was the most least surprising paparazzi attack ever, Britney uses an umbrella to stave off cameramen. They say she has multiple personalities. I guess one of those is The Penguin.

February 8, 2008


THE FBI is poking around the celebrity magazine world on the West Coast, investigating allegations of kickbacks and pay-for-play schemes, according to a source who was contacted by investigators.

The source was told that the probe, which appears to be at a preliminary stage, involved "paparazzi and In Touch" magazine.

The source was contacted by an agent named Dennis Webster in the FBI's Los Angeles office. Webster had not returned calls to Media Ink by presstime.

Specifics about what the feds are looking into remain murky, but people at the celebrity magazines have been burning up the lines in recent days since a story about the FBI probe was posted Wednesday on the complex.com Web site and picked up by gawker.com and jossip.com.

However, the source said that West Coast legal circles have been buzzing that Hollywood stars who have long felt they were being harassed by the paparazzi were perhaps pushing the feds to act.

Stars have long been frustrated that local law enforcement has been unable to thwart the paparazzi unless they either pose a real threat to someone or are trespassing on private property.

At the heart of the FBI's probe is whether an editor at In Touch received kickbacks from a photo agency that works with the magazine in exchange for doling out plumb assignments to the agency, the source told Media Ink.

If the unnamed editor took payments and didn't report it as income, it could be a matter of tax evasion.

The yet-to-be-identified photo agency could also run afoul of federal regulations if it was not properly reporting cash payments to individuals.

The source said that one agency had garnered $80,000 in assignments from In Touch without ever getting a photo into the magazine.

The speculation is that the agency was kicking money back to an editor who continued to dole out the plumb assignments.

Complex.com said the focus of the investigation involved selections of covers, but other sources said that seemed far-fetched.

A spokeswoman for In Touch said, "It doesn't make sense. All photos are selected in New Jersey. We have not been contacted by the FBI."

The Hollywood scene is generally regarded as a tricky place to be a journalist, with talk of kickbacks and under-the-table payments constantly circulating.

While unethical, it is often tough to say when it crosses the line into illegality.

But as one source who was chatting about the scandal offered, "It would have to be a lot of money over a long period of time to get the FBI interested."

It remains to be seen if the FBI inquiry will yield any fruit. So far, however, it has stirred up the celebrity and gossip reporting world, stretching from Hollywood to London's Fleet Street.

February 4, 2008

18 Wins and one GIANT loss.

That sums it all up.

February 3, 2008

L.A. Lawmaker Proposes Anti-Paparazzi 'Safety Zone' Law

LOS ANGELES — A city councilman on Friday proposed an ordinance to create a buffer zone between celebrities and the paparazzi who often swarm around them.

Councilman Dennis Zine said the measure would require several feet of space between photographers and celebrities to ensure a "personal safety zone."

"This is about common decency," Zine said following a City Council meeting. "We don't want to put the media out of business, but there has to be some reason when they do their job."

Zine's motion proposing the ordinance said the buffer space must be big enough to allow cars and people to pass safely. It did not specify what penalties, if any, someone would face if someone violated the measure.

Last month, Britney Spears was taken from her home by paramedics amid a frenzy of photographers who crowded and chased the ambulance. This week she was again hospitalized, but a phalanx of police vehicles and a helicopter escorted the ambulance.

The motion notes that the paparazzi "are becoming increasingly aggressive in their tactics, posing a clear danger not only to the people they are trying to photography, but to the general public around them."

"It has gotten outrageous," Zine said of the intense media coverage of celebrities. "If we don't do anything, we could see someone seriously injured or killed."

Pamm Fair, the deputy national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild, said the organization supports such an ordinance. She said there has been a growing concern by SAG members about the conduct of the tabloid press.

"I think there is a difference between taking a photo and getting in someone's face and ambushing them," Fair said. "We fully support this effort. Whatever we can do to create a safe environment for our members, their children and residents of this city."

The measure could resemble one that was enacted during the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles where protesters were kept away from entrances into Staples Center. Because the city adopted that policy, Zine believes his proposal would pass legal muster.

A phone message left with the American Civil Liberties Union was not immediately returned.

Zine's motion asks the city attorney and police officials to propose new restrictions on paparazzi to be discussed at the City Council's Public Safety Committee hearing in coming weeks, where photographers as well as actors could testify.

Zine said he hoped it will win council approval and take effect in about six months.

An "anti-stalkerazzi" law went into effect in California two years ago that increased penalties against photographers who impeded celebrities or were responsible for car accidents. Photographers are liable for three times the damages they inflict, plus lose any payments their published photos might earn.

February 2, 2008

Paparazzi admit pursuit of Britney has gone too far

Imagine the scene: a psychiatrist is urgently called to the home of a severely disturbed young woman.

Together, the psychiatrist and the family decide to take her to hospital – without her consent – for a mental health evaluation. A specialist unit of the local police is called to facilitate the journey. Traumatic enough, one might think.

Except that when the young woman in question is Britney Spears, the nightmare has only just begun. The 26-year-old star was indeed admitted to the University of California Medical Centre in Los Angeles in the early hours of Thursday morning – the latest in a long series of deeply troubling episodes involving her wayward behaviour, her young children, her ex-husband and a whole retinue of relatives and hangers-on.

What made it a whole lot worse, though, was that the paparazzi pack got wind of the psychiatrist's late-night visit. By the time everyone was ready to move out of the house – a gated home near the top of Coldwater Canyon in the Hollywood Hills – the area was swarming with about 200 photographers and television camera operators.

TV helicopters swooped overhead. The Los Angeles police were forced to carry out an evacuation plan worthy of a military campaign – guarding the house against a possible paparazzi invasion, setting up a complicated series of roadblocks to throw the photographers off the trail, and blacking the windows in the ambulance so Britney could experience her trauma as privately as possible.

The whole operation lasted hours and cost an estimated $25,000 (£12,600) – money the police would much rather have spend on something else.

Last night it was reported that an LA court had taken possession of her estate "due to mental health issues". The rapid downward spiral of Britney Spears' life marks perhaps the lowest watermark in our tabloid culture – an entire industry feeding off the misery of a former teenage idol turned very public basket-case. A business publication called Portfolio estimated a few days ago that the "Britney-Industrial Complex" is worth about $120m a year to the US economy – everything from the fees generated by her pictures to the boost in circulation, as much as one-third more, enjoyed by publications who put her on the cover.

In the increasingly Wild West atmosphere of Hollywood's paparazzi agencies, she alone currently accounts for as much as 30 per cent of total revenues.

Much of this has gone unquestioned, outside of some high-minded media discussion forums at the Los Angeles Times.

Now, though, even some of the photographers who make their living chronicling every step of her meltdown are beginning to examine their consciences, and their professional ethics. One British photographer based in Los Angeles, Nick Stern, became perhaps the first to make a public stand when he quit his job with the Splash news agency a few days ago because he could not bring himself to cover Britney another day longer.

"The Britney story is no longer about Britney," he said. "It's the media circus surrounding her... It's not journalism. Sooner or later, someone's going to get killed. Possibly Britney herself."

Stern said he could no longer stomach the sheer aggression of the pack – many of whom have no photographic training and, he said, include members of street gangs treating the trade in Britney snapshots as a criminal racket.

"I've heard stories of fights, of car tyres being slashed, or cars being blocked in and vehicles jumping lights, all in the name of getting a picture," he said.

"It's now acceptable for paparazzi to drive the wrong way down a street in pursuit of Britney." Stern, who moved to Los Angeles last August following several years at the head of his own agency, First News, said he had no objection to celebrity journalism.

He made a fine living from it, selling mainly to the lower end of the British newspaper market, and felt the press corps were unfairly blamed for the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Nor does he have any particular beef with Splash, who he said were "one of the more honourable professional employers out here".

He has now joined another agency, Bauer Griffin.

The Britney circus, though, has turned his stomach. "If there's a story concerning Britney that's justified, that's great," he said. "But it's gone way beyond that... She has real psychological problems."

A few months ago, those problems extended to her shaving her head or appearing at nightclubs without any underwear on.

A month ago, though, she refused to hand over her sons Sean Preston, two, and Jayden James, one, to her ex husband Kevin Federline, 29, and then locked herself in a bathroom.

That prompted a day-long involuntary hospitalisation. More recently, she was spotted repeatedly driving past a courthouse where custody hearings about her children were under way, but not stopping to go in.