Columnist: Star trix nix pix
While I was interviewing Jason Bateman for the cover of Best Life magazine, we stopped at a car wash because Bateman’s definition of “best life” is pretty liberal. As we were leaving, we spotted a guy hiding behind an SUV taking photos with a telephoto lens. Of Jason Bateman. At a car wash. The next day, a blog ran photos of us under the provocative headline, “Guess Who Sneezed?” The sad thing is, he was actually blowing his nose. Paparazzi have no respect for the facts.
The paparazzi have become so pervasive across L.A. that last week the mayor of Malibu asked Ken Starr, Pepperdine law school dean and former Clinton tormentor, to help draw up a city ordinance to restrict them. Earlier this year, Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine proposed an ordinance to prevent paparazzi from getting too close to famous people. Both efforts have minimal chance of accomplishing their obvious goal ” getting celebrities to hang out with low-level local politicians ” and absolutely no chance of resulting in laws because even TMZ.com has press-freedom rights.
So, in a feat of public service that I hope will win me the kind of awards, appreciation and movie deals that Steve Lopez gets, I’ve decided to help the celebrities. I called paparazzo Garry Sun, who makes more than $8,000 a month selling to magazines and TV shows, for some tips on how to avoid him. You don’t need to thank me, celebrities. That movie deal will be thanks enough.
Don’t go to the Ivy restaurant for lunch: Sure, the Cobb salad is good ” but are you completely unable to find a salad at a less tourist-packed, paparazzi-stalked joint? If you’re going to the Ivy for lunch, you want your photo taken. This is the place where Melanie Griffith went with sudden-friend Sharon Stone last week in what will rank as the most desperate plea for sexual attention from a 50-something until whatever Kim Cattrall does in the “Sex and the City” movie.
In fact, stay off Robertson Boulevard: Also, says Sun, don’t step foot in downtown Beverly Hills. “And Hollywood, West Hollywood and Malibu. Then you’ve effectively cut your chance of getting shot by 90 percent.” To simplify: Don’t hang out with other celebrities.
Go out early: Do your errands before 11 a.m. because, as you know if you’ve ever seen paparazzi, there’s no way they’re awake before 11. And make dinner reservations before 8, because there’s a window between 5 and 8 p.m. when they’re doing their equivalent of office work: uploading video, sending photos, killing puppies.
Go solo: “Any time you’re seen with a new person, it’s news. Regardless or whether you’re dating, they’ll run a story wondering if you are or not.” The definition of news has been lowered so far that you should also avoid new haircuts, new lipstick and new British accents.
Close your eyes: As soon as you see a flash go off, remove your sunglasses and shut your eyes. “Magazines want eyes,” Sun says. This trick does not work for Pamela Anderson.
Hire security: David and Victoria Beckham, as well as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, are among the hardest celebrities to get pictures of. The Beckhams travel with a phalanx of SUVs that block the view of restaurant entrances. Cruise’s SUV has a dividing wall and window curtains. Also, he can melt film with his mind.
Try decoys: The important part is the decoy car. “(Actress) Sienna Miller was leaving Villa, and they had the car she came in pull up to the side. And then she ran out the front into a different car,” Sun says. He got fooled. But when Leonardo DiCaprio got a guy who looked like him to run out of a club with his hat pulled low, Leo-style, no one followed because they hadn’t been primed with the decoy car. “Without the car, no one was ready,” Sun says. “Very few times they will care enough to run after someone to see who it is.” Another tip, apparently, is to run.
The same-clothes trick doesn’t work: At the height of the Jen-Brad-Angelina scandal, Jennifer Aniston kept wearing the same outfit to deliberately bore magazine editors who couldn’t confirm they were new shots. After the first “Harry Potter,” Daniel Radcliffe did it too. Oh, those innocent times. Now, Sun says, “they’ll still use the pictures, but they’ll talk smack about you for wearing the same clothes over and over.”
Wear a burka: Surprisingly warm on cool Malibu nights, yet well-ventilated for day.
Joel Stein is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
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