June 30, 2009

Obama tries to have it both ways with media

Press banned from photographing Sasha and Malia at the White House

A free press is all well and good, but not when it comes to the children of President Barack Obama, who has introduced unprecedented rules about which pictures we see of Sasha, eight, and Malia, 10, and which ones we don't.

It was several weeks ago, for instance, when photographers on the White House grounds captured the President waving extravagantly at Sasha standing on the Truman Balcony. Great pictures, to be sure, but the press office instantly requested that news agencies not distribute them.

The Obamas are confronting the same dilemma that faced many first families before them. Nothing endears a nation to its leader more than family snapshots. Even Abraham Lincoln acquiesced to a portrait with his son Tad, eight, at a small table. Few photographs are more beloved than the one of JFK Jr and Caroline playing in the Oval Office. On the other hand, the President and the First Lady want to protect the girls from prying paparazzi.

Thus, all credentialed photographers have been told that the girls are fair game only when they are at formal events. Otherwise, prying lenses should stay away, even when they are on the White House grounds.

To reduce the market for paparazzi shots, the White House puts out photos taken by its own photographer. But these are posted only in low resolution. Editors who want to use them have to ask for a high resolution version and it is up to spokesman Robert Gibbs to grant or deny those requests.

If Mr Obama wants to protect the children from being exploited by a voracious modern-day media, he may find himself treading close to being accused of exploiting them himself, with such a controlled drip-drip of images designed to extract maximum political advantage at the lowest parental cost.

"He's going to try to have it both ways until and unless people start to question his value system and his sincerity in playing that role," notes Gerald Shuster, a political communications expert at the University of Pittsburgh.

The girls, meanwhile, may be discovering the downside of having to stay clear of the paparazzi, having to think twice, for example, before venturing even as far as their climbing frame.

The President whose name is attached to the Truman balcony brought his daughter to Washington, but Margaret Truman loathed the bubble-life she found herself living thanks to her father, Harry, and famously called the executive mansion the Great White Jail.

June 23, 2009


Paparazzi are gathered outside Madonna’s townhouse in a posh section of London, hoping for a glimpse or photo of her new adopted daughter, Mercy.

Mercy is said to be bonding with her new mother before the family flies to New York.

Mercy arrived in London on Friday after an overnight flight from the Malawi orphanage where she had been living.

One June 12th the Malawi Supreme Court allowed the singer to adopt the child after a lower court had ruled Madonna would not be able to adopt her because Madonna wasn’t a resident of the Malawi.

Rights groups have accused the Malawi government of giving preferential treatment to Madonna and say this ruling will encourage other foreigners to try to adopt orphans from the southern African country.

Mercy will join her new sister and two brothers.

David Banda, who’s three, was also adopted from Malawi in 2006

Kodak Shutters Kodachrome

Kodak is discontinuing its storied Kodachrome film line, the company announced today. Introduced in 1935, Kodachrome was the first commercially successful color film, and was immortalized in a Paul Simon song in 1973. But these days it represents less than 1% of Kodak’s film sales, and only one lab in the world—Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, processes it, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.

“It was certainly a difficult decision to retire it, given its rich history,” said one Kodak executive. To honor that history, National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry will shoot one of the final rolls, donating the prints to the photography museum named for Kodak founder George Eastman. Any other remaining rolls will also be donated to the museum.

June 16, 2009

Pete Doherty Makes Comparison Between Paparazzi and Nazi Death Camps

Pete Doherty has recently been touring in the U.K., although his infamous drug use is threatening his career once more. When he’s not being arrested, the former Libertines singer is giving interviews to the BBC, who featured Doherty in a TV show about media intrusion.

Doherty has plenty of experience of this particular topic, particularly from his time as Kate Moss’s eye candy. In fact, it affected poor Pete so badly that is caused him to draw some unwise comparisons between paparazzi photographers and the Nazis on the BBC show.

“It's going to sound really extreme,” he said, in reference to photographers blaming their antics on newspaper demands. “But you know even the people who were like shoveling bodies into gas chambers were saying 'we're just obeying orders.' You've got to accept responsibility for what you do.”

Doherty’s statement is only likely to stoke the flames of his battle with the paparazzi. But with his fame ailing, it’s only a full-blown Libertines reunion or a reconciliation with Kate Moss that would really restore the level of fame he so desperately craves. Why else would he be making such inflammatory please-look-at-me statements?

The hunted become the hunters: Celebs vs. paparazzi

HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) - Paparazzi. Sometimes, they’re good for buzz, for PR, and for publicity. Other times, they’re downright annoying.

Make that most of the time.

Scores of celebrities are hounded while they try to go about their daily lives, buy groceries, or take their kids to the park. When the more unscrupulous paparazzi cross the line, climb trees, hide in your trash can, or scare your kids, there’s only one thing to do: FIGHT BACK.

We here at L’Herald de Paris have a lot of celebrated friends. We hear often how annoying the paparazzi can be. Therefore, we’re going to give anyone in the public eye the opportunity to level the playing field.

When the paparazzi just will not leave you alone, pull out your mobile phone and snap their photo right back.


Send it to us with the date, time, and location, and we’ll publish it.

Let’s show everyone the faces of disrespectful photo journalism, and see how much THEY like having their unwilling photos published.

June 12, 2009

Hugh Grant kicks a paparazzi out of his way

Brit actor Hugh Grant has landed in yet another row with the paparazzi, and this time he lashed out at a photographer with his foot during a night out in New York.

Grant, 48, was on his way to a restaurant in the Big Apple on June 10 when he took offence at the snappers outside the venue, and as he made his way to another nightspot, he was caught on camera warning the photogs to “back off”.

The actor is said to have become so agitated by the photographers’ persistence that he reportedly kicked one in the groin. “That wasn’t cool. What the f**k is your problem? I was trying to be a nice guy. I was trying to help you find a cab,” the Daily Star quoted the unlucky snapper as shouting.

June 9, 2009

Council to examine protecting children from paparazzi

A circus-like atmosphere began unfolding at the First Presbyterian Nursery School, the source of chaos coming not from crying children, but rather a group of two dozen photographers snapping away from behind a fence.

They hooked their cameras into the fence, some even climbing up the divider erected between the playground and the alley where they stood, all to capture photos of a few celebrity parents with their children.

Such is a description of the scene according to Councilman Richard Bloom who recently visited the nursery school after receiving letters from more than 30 parents complaining about the nuisance caused by the paparazzi. During tonight's City Council meeting, Bloom and Mayor Pro Tem Pam O'Connor plan to ask staff to investigate "intrusive and invasive activities" of paparazzi photographers and videographers in areas where children gather, returning with recommended regulations to protect their privacy.

"Celebrities may not like it but they get that this is something they have to accept and live with … ," Bloom said. "I think there are limits as to what somebody should have to experience in this situation, but for the parents and children of the school, it's a very intolerable situation."

Among the celebrities who reportedly have children enrolled in First Presbyterian are Jennifer Garner and Meg Ryan, both of whom have been photographed at the school and displayed on various celebrity gossip Web sites.

Bloom said he was contacted by parents of the school several months ago about the ongoing issue of the paparazzi. During the visit, the councilman said he witnessed photographers blocking the alley and the entryway to the school.

"Inside the school, there were parents who felt trapped," he said.

In the letters parents talk about the problems experienced with the photographers, at least one even claiming that their family has been verbally assaulted.

The parents said that the paparazzi have also increased congestion on the street, taking up parking spaces and driving recklessly. One parent observed a photographer standing on top of a car and taking pictures over the fence. Another parent said the crowd of photographers also attracts people passing by, adding to the already congested environment. Parents also said the scene can be frightening to their children.

"Our families deserve the opportunity to give our children a safe place to learn and grow," one parent wrote.

In a letter to Bloom, Mary Hartzell, the director of the nursery school, said that church staff have asked the photographers to temper their actions, only to be met with insults.

She added that though the school has had famous parents over the years, the situation it experiences today is one it has never faced before.

"The school has always been a place that welcomes diversity and we have families from different economic, racial, social and religious backgrounds," she wrote.

Hartzell could not be reached for comment.

Bloom said he envisions regulations that would establish a reasonable distance that photographers should have to maintain.

"It has reached the point at this particular school where these folks feel strongly enough about it to contact a council member and ask if something could be done," he said.

Francois Navarre, the owner of Beverly Hills-based X17online, an agency dedicated to celebrity photography, said that there are plenty of rules in place right now that restrict photographers, including one that prohibits them from parking in an alley.

"The police always find a reason to push away photographers," Navarre said. "They say we're disturbing the traffic and disturbing this and that."

He added that more laws could raise issues for his agency.

"Any specific regulations against the paparazzi is very dangerous for me because the difference between paparazzi and journalist is so ambiguous," he said.