True Hollywood Story Investigates: Paparazzi

Los Angeles is awaiting a Princess Diana-like disaster if the paparazzi continue to stalk celebrities and clog up Robertson Boulevard, according to the latest edition of E!'s investigative series. Shutterbugs who would trample their mother for a shot of Tom Cruise's baby aren't on the bottom rung of the humanity ladder, but just barely.

Los Angeles is awaiting a Princess Diana-like disaster if the paparazzi continue to stalk celebrities and clog up Robertson Boulevard, according to the latest edition of E!’s investigative series. Shutterbugs who would trample their mother for a shot of Tom Cruise’s baby aren’t on the bottom rung of the humanity ladder, but just barely.

With Joe Friday-inspired intensity, host Rob Nelson gives the subject the highest gravitas. To get an inside view of how the celebrity melee originates, he rides along with veteran paparazzi Giles Harrison, who’s been shooting stars for more than a decade.

By his actions, Harrison seems reasonable — he says celebrities’ families should, for the most part, be out of bounds. But Harrison is determined. A big guy, he isn’t afraid to muscle out his competition for just the right shot of Paris Hilton walking her dog or Britney Spears noshing on dessert.

Nelson does a nice job talking to all the protagonists — the agencies who employ the paparazzi, the magazines who buy the shots, the magazine-stand owners (the National Enquirer and the Star sell out all the time), the publicists who decry this behavior, gossip bloggers and boutique owners — all of whom have a stake.

He even attempts to get comments from L.A. Police Chief Bill Bratton, but the top cop refuses to address the matter. Later on, though, we hear the LAPD is looking into how other cities address the problem.

Nelson asks why the paparazzi aren’t subjected to press credentials, but that question is silly. Who’s going to check credentials when Lindsay Lohan is trying to park her car and draws a swarm of photographic locusts?

Turns out some paparazzi are ex-gang members, and Nelson exposes one shooter with a criminal record and tries to get him to fess up and about his past. Instead, the guy uses his strobe light to turn the tables on the E! cameraman, messing with his equipment.

Owner of a trendy Robertson Boulevard shop decries paparazzi antics but can she complain when those pictures in national magazines ultimately make her store more fashionable and profitable?

True Hollywood Story Investigates: Paparazzi

E! Entertainment, Sat. Feb. 10, 5 p.m.

Production: Executive producer, Suzanne Ross; co-executive producer, Suzanne Murch; producer, Melanie Switzer.

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