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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Living under the paparazzi's gaze
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Photographers at a premiere
While stars attract intense interest, many of them dislike paparazzi
Singer George Michael has said he intends to sue two photographers for harassment after he was pictured searching for "no-strings" sex in a park in London.

He claimed in a BBC interview that he suspected two newspapers of paying the pair to follow him for "the best part of six months".

But is this level of attention something a celebrity should expect?

"It's not the norm, but it's happening more now than ever before", says Max Clifford.

He is perhaps the UK's best-known publicist, having spent his career setting up - and suppressing - stories involving figures in the public eye.

These days there were "more and more" paparazzi, he claimed, because "anybody who has access to a camera" could sell images to the press.

Max Clifford (second right) with client Faria Alam in 2004
If you're craving it and always trying to get it, you can't complain if they're following you around
Publicist Max Clifford (second left) on fame

He says he felt sorry for the former Wham! singer because "he's far more sinned-against than sinner".

"It's been many, many years since he played the paparazzi PR game", Clifford says.

He has far more sympathy for George Michael than for the Beckhams because Victoria Beckham is "always using and working the publicity machine", he adds.

'It's a pain'

But while Michael says he "should not have to worry about who's watching me at 2.30 in the morning", actor Colin Farrell says he accepts the attention he receives as a celebrity.

"Yes, it's a pain, and have I ever wanted to punch a paparazzi? Sure. But the pros outweigh the cons," he told the BBC News website.

However, although some stars complain about being photographed illicitly, they are not necessarily blameless, according to one leading editor.

"Some celebrities are in on the game and are taking half the money for these paparazzi shots," claims Jane Ennis of British magazine Now.

George Michael and Kenny Goss
Michael denied recent news stories had caused a rift with his partner
"There are some celebrities who are in devils' deals because they know the shots will fetch a lot of money - so they're on holiday and they take their tops off.

"The paparazzi photographer takes the shots from some distance away and the two of them share the money."

Some celebrities do this to maintain their profiles, Ennis says, although she stresses this was not the case for Michael.

"Some of them haven't done anything of any talent or ability for years," she says.

"They're kept alive by behaving outrageously, getting photographed and those shots appearing in the papers."

Accidents

Moves have been taken to protect people in California from paparazzi who are felt to have overstepped the mark.

Photographers who commit assault while chasing celebrities face large fines under laws introduced by the state's governor - and former film star - Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the past 18 months, there have been several accidents involving celebrities who were being followed by photographers.

Photographers
The public are more interested in the reality of people's lives and the unofficial take on their lives
Jane Ennis, Now magazine

Actress Lindsay Lohan was cut and bruised after a photographer's van collided with her car, although he was cleared of any charges.

Lost in Translation star Scarlett Johansson had a minor crash while allegedly being followed by paparazzi.

Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon claimed she was once chased by photographers who were trying to force her from the road.

And singer Britney Spears was reported as saying her fear of "reckless" paparazzi prevented her from taking her baby son out in public.

'Deeply saddened'

Perhaps the most famous case of all was the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

Three photographers were convicted of breaching French privacy laws for taking pictures of her on the night she was killed in a car crash in Paris.

Earlier this month, Princes William and Harry said they were "deeply saddened" that Italian magazine Chi had printed a photo of their mother as she lay dying.

However, there seems little chance that demand for such "off-guard" photographs will decline.

"The public are more interested in the reality of people's lives and the unofficial take on their lives than they are in the stuff that celebrities and their publicists like to feed out," says Ennis, whose magazine sells almost 600,000 copies per week.

And Clifford added that stars who sought publicity could not protest about the paparazzi.

"If you're craving it and always trying to get it, you can't complain if they're following you around," he said.


SEE ALSO
Star to sue over 'cruising' claim
28 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Convictions for Diana paparazzi
22 Feb 06 |  Europe
No charges for Lohan photographer
29 Dec 05 |  Entertainment
Schwarzenegger tackles paparazzi
03 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
The Snapper King
24 Mar 02 |  UK News

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