Of Paparazzi, Privacy and People
September 8, 2008 5:11 PM
In January 2006, following Hollywood’s prestigious Golden Globe Awards, Best Actor Nominee Heath Ledger was seen on video doing cocaine and other drugs. The actor, who died earlier this year from an accidental prescription drug overdose, was not alone at the time.
Two distinctly separate types of journalists kept him company in the private hotel room. The first, an anonymous reporter from People magazine, who apparently had an interview scheduled with the actor. The second, a pair of photographers from Splash News, a paparazzi agency.
In a recent lawsuit, the “Jane Doe” reporter accuses the paparazzi duo of supplying Ledger’s drugs and secretly filming him–and also her. People Magazine Jane’s motives behind the lawsuit seemed a little fuzzy though. Was she standing up for the privacy rights and preserving the integrity of Ledger? Or was the lawsuit more self-serving? Jane’s lawsuit stated that her appearance on the video tape has “damaged her ability to work.”
Jane Doe’s attorney seemed to settle the motive argument in his outburst during this week’s hearing on the case.
According to the Associated Press, the reporter’s attorney shouted out, “It ruined her! She didn’t get a story out of it.” Which “it” is he referring to?
The first “it” seemed to refer to the videotape which allegedly includes her blurred presence. The second “it” likely represents the entire incident. Either way, the judge settled “it,” stating, “The tape’s valuable because of Heath Ledger, not because of Jane Doe,” and sided with the defense attorneys representing the paparazzi agency.
Do you think Jane Doe sued the paparazzi because they secretly filmed Mr. Ledger, or was it because she happened to end up in the video? Keep in mind that the January 2006 video did not even surface until earlier this year after Ledger’s death.
When it did, a few more journalistic parties quickly entered the mix. The television shows “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” had the video footage practically cued up and ready to air when some of Hollywood’s biggest public relations heavy hitters stepped in talked them out of it.
Isn’t it interesting how publicists, who more often than not are sometimes stuck with reputations as some of the industry’s most ruthless sharks, were the ones who stepped in and defended Ledger’s honor, with nothing to gain in return? Classy move.
The issue of celebrity privacy, specifically when the infamous paparazzi are on the hunt, continues to be hashed and rehashed in courtrooms, newsrooms, living rooms and water cooler chat. Will there ever be a clear line dividing what is fair game and what is off limits as far as celebrity privacy is concerned? When is enough –enough?
See you in court!