August 24, 2009

President urges media shutterbugs to respect daughters’ privacy

The Obama White House, like administrations before it, has gone to great lengths to accommodate the press corps traveling with the president on his first official vacation in office. Staffers arranged for a filing center at a local school, assembled “pools’’ of reporters to tail the president if he goes out, and promised to brief the press daily.

But the real message to those hoping to cover the president’s vacation is: really, we wish you wouldn’t.

Unlike recent presidents, Obama has two young children, and the first couple is adamant that the girls be left alone. That means no approaching, cameras in tow, when Sasha and Malia are trying to get ice cream, or perhaps ride on the island’s famed carousel.

Aside from wishing a good time for all, in fact, the president had one clear message yesterday for reporters, said Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary: “The first family would very much appreciate if you respect the privacy of the girls while they’re out here on vacation.’’

That was before Burton even got to the matters of whether the president would be conferring with advisers while on vacation (yes, some) or how he felt about the recent elections in Afghanistan (looking forward to hearing the results along with everybody else).

“I asked him if he had a message for the press corps, and that’s what it is,’’ Burton told those of the press that traveled to the Vineyard on the White House charter.

Further, added press aide Katie Lillie, there will be no tolerating reporters using cellphones to call or text friends with the president’s latest movements on the island. Since the Vineyard has relatively few roads - and it’s easy to figure out how Obama would travel from one venue to another - those in the press pool must agree not to telegraph where he’s going.

Violators, she said, would be thrown out of the pool.

Annie Leibovitz, photographer of stars, faces ruin

Annie Leibovitz is as famous as the people she photographs but now the genius behind the lens is close to financial ruin -- a victim, some say, of her own relentless artistic ambition.

Among the qualities making Leibovitz, 59, the most sought after portrait photographer in the world are legendary perfectionism and the pouring of resources into lavish sets.

Over the course of her long career, nothing has been too extreme in Leibovitz's pursuit of the perfect picture.

She put former action icon and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on top of a mountain, submerged black actress Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk and closed France's Versailles palace to shoot Kirsten Dunst posing as Marie-Antoinette.

Circus animals, fire, airplanes -- she was rarely denied a requested prop, however seemingly outrageous.

That kind of imagination, and the stylized, hyper-realistic portraits she produced, had a long line of celebrities, from Hollywood stars to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, beating a path to Leibovitz's door.

Yet behind a facade of unlimited financial means, Leibovitz was spending her way into nightmare.

In what now appears as a disastrous decision to raise funds, Leibovitz took a 24-million-dollar loan from Art Capital Group (ACG) -- in effect a high-end pawn broker -- in December 2008 using her own photographs as collateral.

That debt is due September 8 and if she can't pay up, she could lose her life's work.

ACG, which specializes in making loans to owners of high value art works, is unlikely to adopt a soft line.

Leibovitz must "comply with the sales agreement she signed authorizing Art Capital to sell the fine art and real estate assets and to pay the invoices that are due," ACG spokesman Montieth Illingworth said in a statement.

The over-leveraged photographer not only risks losing her photo archives, which The New York Times estimates could be worth 50 million dollars, but also her house in the trendy Greenwich Village district of Manhattan and a second home outside the city.

If she is forced to declare bankruptcy, it will then be up to the courts to decide how to distribute the assets.

Banking giant Goldman Sachs entered the fray this week with a claim to own part of Leibovitz's debt.

ACG disputes that, but says Goldman Sachs could be invited to bid for the loan.

Leibovitz's career has few parallels. Her famous shoots include a nude portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono -- just before the Beatle was murdered -- and nude and pregnant actress Demi Moore.

Despite moving in such glamorous circles, Leibovitz has never been known for having a knack for finance.

When she was hired to shoot ads for American Express in the 1980s, it emerged she had been previously turned down by the company when applying for a credit card.

New York's chattering classes are aghast at the renowned photographer's downfall, making her the latest spectacular victim of the bad debt crisis and nationwide recession.

The weekly New York Magazine published a lengthy article recounting her perfectionism at work and her lavish personal taste, including an apartment on the banks of the Seine in Paris to please her lover, writer Susan Sontag, who died in 2004.

Anna Wintour, the equally famous editor of Vogue magazine, said in a documentary that Leibovitz was priceless.

"Budget is not something that enters into her consciousness, but it is worth it because at the end of the day, she gives you an image that nobody else can," said Wintour.

August 20, 2009

Beyonce's bodyguard assualted by paparazzi on video

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z have been working overtime lately, so the couple decided to take a vacation in Croatia. The singer took a hired yacht into the ocean and had a blast riding the water waves!

Unfortunately their vacation turned out to be not so fun when one of Beyonce's bodyguards was hit in the back by a paparazzi with a camera stand!

August 18, 2009

Pitt 'enjoyed arse-kicking in Basterds'

Pitt 'enjoyed arse-kicking in Basterds'

Brad Pitt has reportedly confessed that he enjoyed his role in Inglourious Basterds because he got to shoot numerous fight scenes.

The 45-year-old plays a Nazi-hunting American soldier in Quentin Tarantino's latest movie.

Contactmusic quotes him as saying: "I just like kicking arse, period. Didn't have to be Nazi, I can beat any ass. Any arse I like kicking, I just kick it.

"The role made me a little tougher. I now walk with a little more swagger."

However, Pitt explained that he is comparatively calm when it comes to the paparazzi, joking: "The [paparazzi] are my friends, they take good care of me. They are really kind and generous and thoughtful people who make the world a better place."

August 14, 2009

George Clooney Suing Paparazzi Over Underage Pictures

It’s George Clooney versus the paps! He’s reportedly suing the pesky photographers for crossing the line recently at his home in Italy.

According to TMZ, a photographer climbed over the wall on Clooney’s property and took pictures of a 13-year-old girl changing in one of his guest rooms.

The pap also got shots of George and his new lady friend Elisabetta Canalis getting cozy in the back yard. The pics have been published in two magazines, and now Georgey boy is suing mad.

He released a statement saying, "We're suing two magazines AND a photographer. I don't know about the law in the United States but in Italy it's illegal for photographers to climb over my wall and to take long lens pictures of a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom.

"I draw the line of privacy at that."

August 13, 2009

Hayden Panettiere Blames Paparazzi For Life's Woes

The 19-year-old actress has spent a lot of time growing up in front of the cameras, having worked in the industry since she could barely walk.

But she’s still not used to the celebrity gossip limelight.

She blames the paparazzi for ruining her relationships, most notably the one she had with Heroes co-star Milo Ventimiglia. Panettiere said she’s pissed by the endless cycle of the public craving details about celebs, and the paparazzi who feed it.

Not that she plays into this by posing in Details or anything.

Hayden Pic

Hayden at the Teen Choice Awards, hating having her photo taken.

“It’s very, very difficult and people have no idea what they do to peoples’ relationships. They destroy them. The paparazzi and the public,” she told Company.

“The public wants to read about your personal life, and the paparazzi give it to them by nosing into your personal life and saying things that are horrible.”

Sure, she's got a point. But she also dated a 30-year-old guy when she was 18, and stars on a hugely successful show. That's going to attract some attention.

Since breaking up with Milo, she has been linked to British TV presenter Steve Jones (age 32, for those keeping score). She's sported some bikinis and a misspelled tattoo lately, both of which are going to be magnets for attention, too!

August 12, 2009

Brigitte Bardot and the Original Paparazzi

As fashion legend Brigitte Bardot turns 75, a new exhibition of iconic images of her life through a lens opens in London.

Fittingly placed to coincide with this year’s London Fashion Week, the exhibition at James Hyman Gallery focuses on the 50-year history of the paparazzi and explores Brigitte’s pivotal role in creating an entirely new image of female sexuality and youth fashion.

Alongside exclusive shots of the beautiful Brigitte, the exhibition showcases the work of Tazio Secchiaroli – the man behind the character Paparazzo in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – and, ironically, the most famous paparazzo ever.

Innovatively charting the development of photography, the collection explores the ever-powerful rise of celebrity and probes our present-day obsession with shots of stars in front of the flashbulbs.

Old begets new as images of Brigitte on the set of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le M├ępris point enticingly to Jean Paul Gaultier’s brand-new and exciting collection. Inspired by the seminal film, the s/s 2010 line promises to be presented with elegance by Brigitte lookalike model Lara Stone.

As well-known pictures nestle among previously unseen gems, debating both the history and the future of fashion, this exhibition promises an enthralling and rare experience redolent with meaning for past and present times.

Brigitte Bardot and the Original Paparazzi: An exhibition of rare original vintage photographs
3 September-3 October 2009
James Hyman Gallery, W1 (020 7494 3857)

Gerard Butler bodyguard under investigation for paparazzi flack

Once again, a paparazzo is at the bottom of an ongoing police investigation, this time to question the bodyguard of actor Gerard Butler. Butler is co-starring with Katherine Heigl in "The Ugly Truth," a major motion picture now in wide release.

Currently, Butler is on location filming "The Bounty" and sparking rumors of a possible romance with Jennifer Aniston. Paparazzi who got wind of the shoot have saturated the locale trying to catch the pair in a tell-tale embrace. No amount of denials can keep the curious in line. Allegedly, this potentially inflammatory situation pushed Butler's bodyguard Chris Tsipouras over the line. Unsubstantiated reports say Tsipouras became enraged over the paparazzi's behavior and purposefully damaged the exterior of cameraman James Devaney's car.

This isn't the first time paparazzi have inspired retaliation in an effort to make them disappear. Last year, rapper Kanye West and his manager were arrested after an airport scuffle with a paparazzo devolved into a smashing experience.

I don't think anyone blames Tsipouras for taking matters into his own hands. But when balanced against the rights of a free press under the First Amendment, paparazzi do have a right to work freely i.e. snap photographs, without threat of loss or intentional bodily harm. Property damage, although completely understandable, is not the answer, nor should it be tolerated in a law-abiding society.