May 16, 2009

Gerard Butler Facing 6 Months in Jail for Paparazzi Beat-Down

Movie star hunk Gerard Butler has been charged with misdemeanor criminal battery over an incident involving a paparazzi-photographer last year. If convicted, he could be sentenced up to 6 months in jail. The incident occurred the night of October 7th, 2008 after a premiere party for “RockNRolla.” Allegedly, the photographer was trailing Gerard’s limo for hours, verbally harassing Butler whenever he got in and out of the limo, and even was chasing people through the streets.

Gerard’s manager Alan Siegel said the actor was forced to have his driver stop the car he was riding in after the particular photographer repeatedly sped through red lights and almost struck two pedestrians. Butler was said to have then punched him several times, bloodying the photographer’s lip. Police filed a report against the “300” actor over the scuffle. The Los Angeles City Attorney has already filed legal charge against him on Wednesday, May 13th, and Gerard is due in court for an arraignment on June 10th. His attorney, Blair Berk, has said that Butler is not required to, and won’t, appear in court on the matter.

May 15, 2009

Janice Dickinson attacks paparazzi

Janice Dickinson attacked the press in an expletive-laden rant when she was intercepted on the way to her car after a night out in Los Angeles

The America's Next Top Model judge had posed for photographs on the way into Nobu, but stopped to challenge a member of the paparazzi who called her "drunkie".

As she exited the restaurant, Dickinson waved her scarf at the press and said: "You guys are like insects."

When one photographer described the star as "a great distraction", she asked who had made the comment before responding.

Dickinson said: "You know what, you're a f**king great f**king distraction... you f**king a**hole. You're a f**king a**hole. I'm still after you. You're a c***."

When she was snapped getting into her car on the driver's side, Dickinson tried to chase down one paparazzo who she believed had tried to take a photograph up her dress.

"You come here. Delete. If he f**king deletes it it's fine. He f**king got it when I went into the car and did my [dress]. I'm going to f**k him up. F**king a**hole," she added, before returning to the passenger seat of the car.

May 13, 2009

Jennifer Garner Tells Paparazzi “Shame, Shame, Shame!”

Jennifer Garner is sick and tired of the paparazzi that incessantly hound her and her family. "Because my husband and I are public figures, it is assumed that our daughters are public figures, and there’s nothing to protect them," Jennifer says.

"There are almost as many video cameras as there are film cameras and the situation has shifted so that a huge amount of their focus is put on the children of celebrities," she goes on to say.

There's a mob of paps pretty much living outside Jennifer's and Ben Affleck's home, hoping to get a glimpse of beautiful 3-year-old Violet and her little 4-mos-old sibling, Seraphina Rose. Jennifer says that the daily preschool run is torture.

"When we go to preschool, there are so many paparazzi there that they are knocking kids on the heads with cameras and knocking them down," Jen says. And they aren't happy with just one photo, either. The photographers are constantly calling out to Violet, trying to catch her eye.

"There are huge numbers of them - and they’re aggressive. They talk to her. They yell at her. They try to get her attention. They try to get her to react. It is a shame, shame, shame."

Fawcett lashes out at paparazzi

Former sex symbol Farah Fawcett, 62, reportedly terminally ill with cancer, has blasted paparazzi and the celebrity culture for invading her privacy and spoiling the last years of her life.

In an interview published on Monday in the Los Angeles Times the star of the original Charlie's Angels, who is reported to be close to death, said the unwanted attention had made her battle with cancer more difficult.

"It's much easier to go through something and deal with it without being under a microscope," said the terminally ill star. "It was stressful. I was terrified of getting the chemo. It's not pleasant. And the radiation is not pleasant."

Being under a microscope

"I'm a private person," Fawcett said. "I'm shy about people knowing things. And I'm really shy about my medical (care). It would be good if I could just go and heal and then when I decided to go out, it would be okay. It seems that there are areas that should be off-limits."

"I'm holding onto the hope that there is some reason that I got cancer and there is something, that may not be very clear to me right now, but that I will do."

The interview was released days after her long-time companion Ryan O'Neal revealed that Fawcett had stopped treatment in what was seen as an indication that she was close to death.

Other reports said that her jailed son had been given special dispensation to see her and that she had also said goodbye to her 91-year-old father with a note: "I've lived a full and wonderful life. I've loved and been loved. I'm happy. I'm ready."

May 3, 2009

Have celebrities finally snapped?

Amy Winehouse's injunction against the paparazzi reveals a growing frustration with picture agencies and their methods

You may have noticed that, while just a few months ago you couldn't open a tabloid newspaper or celebrity magazine without seeing a photo of Amy Winehouse - usually taken late at night with the singer in a dishevelled state - there haven't been many pictures of her recently.

The Guardian revealed over the weekend that Winehouse had successfully, and relatively quietly, obtained an injunction preventing picture agencies, and the photographers who work for them, from following her and gathering outside her house. A sign outside her new home since 30 March has warned photographers not to come within 100 metres. The pop star Lily Allen won a similar injunction earlier in the same month preventing two picture agencies - Big Pictures and Matrix Photos - from harassing her, approaching her within 100 metres of her home, or taking photographs when she is in the homes of her family or friends.

Both follow an action brought by the actor Sienna Miller, who sued Big Pictures, one of the biggest agencies for celebrity photographs, for harassment and invasion of privacy, and was awarded £53,000 in damages and costs as part of a settlement that resulted in the agency's photographers being forbidden from following her. Alan Williams, the chief executive of Big Pictures, declined to comment on the injunctions, except to say: "We believe in the right of a photographer to take pictures in a public place."

Celebrities have increasingly turned to injunctions against the paparazzi, claiming an inability to live ordinary lives. How did the once-umbilical relationship deteriorate so much? After the death of Princess Diana, there seemed to be a collective surrender by paparazzi photographers. But with the internet and the success of celebrity magazines creating demand, as well as the growth in the number of amateurs, there are now more paparazzi than ever. In Los Angeles, they are known as "gangbangers", says Nick Stern, a British photographer who divides his time between London and LA. Last year, Stern resigned from Splash picture agency, when he felt the hounding of Britney Spears had gone too far. When Spears was taken to hospital in February last year, the ambulance needed at least 12 police motorcycles to escort it through a swarm of photographers.

The picture of Spears having her head shaved is rumoured to have fetched around £250,000. "Some days there would be 30 or 40 people trying to take her picture. There is very little skill, technical or journalistic, involved - it's just a crazy fight, pure aggression and persistence," Stern says.

The publicist Max Clifford remembers one instance last year when he was in a car "with someone who had done something they shouldn't with someone", and a photographer chasing them on a motorbike came off the road and nearly hit a woman with a pushchair. "He didn't have any regard for his safety or those around him. That's what you're up against now. It is more fierce, confrontational and competitive. The atmosphere has changed."

Clifford blames "over-enthusiastic amateurs ... ruining it for the rest". Before, there was usually an informal agreement between professional paparazzi and the star - the star would pose for a picture, and in return the pack would largely then leave them alone. Now, anybody can pick up a decent digital camera and a laptop with mobile broadband for a couple of thousand pounds and become a paparazzo. Even photographs snapped on mobile phones can reach dizzying sums - the Mirror is thought to have paid about £100,000 for the grainy phone footage of Kate Moss appearing to snort cocaine.

"I know it can be presented as celebrities not wanting photographs to be taken, but this is more about the extraordinary lengths that [photographers] will go to get pictures," says David Sherborne, the barrister who represented Allen, Miller and Winehouse. "It makes doing everyday things that you or I take for granted miserable and dangerous." Sherborne says he thinks more celebrities will seek injunctions, "when they realise something can be done about it".

In a newspaper interview a few weeks ago, Allen described an incident when she left her house and photographers in seven cars followed her. "I turned into a T-junction and they all ran a red light, then tried to overtake on the inside. A woman had to slam the brakes on her car as they cut in. I braked too, of course, and this guy ran into the back of me. I got out of the car. I was shaken up ... Instead of talking to me, like a decent human being would, he got his camera out and started taking pictures, and I just thought, 'I've had it with the press, I can't do this any more.' I got back into the car and called my lawyer."

Dan Bozinovski is one of the photographers affected by Allen's injunction, though he denies that he has ever behaved in an unacceptable way. How does he feel about celebrities taking out injunctions? "I think there should be some way of regulating photographers, rather than taking out injunctions against whole agencies.

"A certain class of people is going to become untouchable. The more money you have for lawyers, the more privilege you can buy." Celebrities can't have it both ways, he says. "A lot of publicity [for Allen] has been generated through us. When she had an album out, her PR was working overtime to tip us off about where she would be. That's the game."

That said, Bozinovski does admit the pack has become "much worse. Most photographers are freelancers who joined the industry in the last couple of years. There are so many more photographers now, so people aren't making as much money and they're getting desperate for that great shot." He says that he has been sworn and spat at, and colleagues have been beaten up by bouncers and celebrities' security guards. "I don't know if I'll be doing it by the end of the year," he says. "It's getting harder, for less money and you have to risk more and more."

May 1, 2009


ALBANY -- Gov. Paterson, who raised state taxes by $8 billion last month, just cost state taxpayers $300,000 more.

The state has secretly settled an embarrassing federal racial-discrimination lawsuit, The Post has learned. The suit accused Paterson, back when he was Senate minority leader in 2003, of firing a white Senate photographer in order to replace him with an African-American.

The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial in federal court Monday in Syracuse, with Paterson, the state's first black governor, as a key witness. The case was settled earlier in the week, although a few glitches delayed the final deal until yesterday, legislative sources said.

The settlement ends a civil-rights action first filed in 2005 by Joseph Maioriello, 56, of Schenectady, a 26-year Senate employee who originally sought $1.5 million.

He was fired from his $34,000-a-year job as a photographer two years earlier and replaced by a black employee, El-Wise Noisette. The shakeup happened after Paterson ousted then-Sen. Martin Connor (D-Brooklyn) as the minority leader.

Connor was expected to testify that Maioriello was a good photographer.

While neither Paterson nor the state admitted that Maioriello was a victim of racial discrimination, the size of the settlement means "that the state wouldn't have made out very well if it had gone to trial," said a source close to the lawsuit.

"If nothing wrong happened, why is the state paying out this kind of money?" the source asked.

Maioriello's lawyer, Anne-Jo Pennock McTague of Albany, told The Post that her client was "satisfied with the amount and the fact of a settlement."

Paterson was expected to be one of Maioriello's star witnesses in federal court if the case had gone to trial, a lawyer close to the case said.

The settlement was initially delayed when Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), Paterson's successor and a fellow African-American, refused to give his approval.

Smith had veto power over the settlement since the suit was filed against the Senate. He was in the awkward position of either authorizing a large payment for alleged reverse discrimination or holding out for a trial, which would have forced Paterson to testify under oath.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Smith, said he delayed the final settlement to determine if the cost "was acceptable."

Smith was represented by lawyers from the office of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, which had no comment.

In the lawsuit, Maioriello claimed he was told by John McPadden, then Paterson's chief of staff, that he was being fired because a number of minority senators wanted to replace him with "a minority photographer, a black photographer."

He said he was also told, "You got to remember who Sen. Paterson is. Sen. Paterson is black."

Paterson, who is legally blind, claimed in a sworn deposition that he didn't see well enough to have fired Maioriello because of his race.

A spokesman for Paterson later said the comment was "a quip, a joke."

Paterson and McPadden denied the race-bias claim.