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|| News Item: Posted 2001-01-23

Leading Off: Paparrazi Bert
By Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
"Paparazzo!" Kevork Djansezian yelled at me this past Sunday when he spied me walking outside of the Beverly Hill Hilton with two cameras clanging off of me as I rushed out to my spot of the arrivals line at the annual Golden Globe Awards.

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders.

I had dodged the bullet for 10 years, but I knew finally, one day I would have to do the "paparazzi-thing" and cover the arrivals and the chaos in the backstage photo room.

My usual assignment for USA TODAY at awards shows is shooting inside the house covering the actual awards presentation. But the Globes are different --- they don't allow any news organization inside the house and instead, provide "hand-out" digital images of the event to the wire services. I had played picture editor at past Globes editing and transmitting for other shooters but this year with our Life picture editor Kevin Eans out for the show, I elected to run the gauntlet.

Covering a show like the Globes is not unlike covering a big-time sports event: you arrive hours before it starts (9am for the 5pm telecast), deal with screwed up credentialing (though the Globe organizers are easy to deal with, unlike their counter parts at the Academy Awards), there's lots of pushing and shoving for positions and the tension releasing sarcastic humor is ever-present.

But there are differences. Big ones.

The screaming and hollering by the "paparazzi" as the celebs walk by on the arrivals red carpet is maddening and the noise level and unruly behavior in the photo room is deafening and downright embarrassing.

As Robert Downey, Jr. strolled down the red carpet with Calista Flockhart on his arm, the catcalls and loud musings like "Must be on his way to snort a line in the john" and "He had to have slipped out of a back window at the halfway house" were clearly heard by everyone.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
"Charlie's Angels" star Lucy Liu, arrived holding hands with actress Anne Heche, whipping some of the "paparazzi" into a feeding frenzy, climbing over one another trying to get a clearer view.

And unlike shooters who show up at Staples Center is shorts, t-shirts and sandals to cover a Laker game, the Globes (like all entertainment awards shows) is black tie even for the media.

The backstage photo room (set up with a three-tiered platform for about 50 photographers) is where the winners and the presenters are paraded across a small stage to pose with their "Globe". One embarrassing moment was scantily dressed actress Charlize Theron (who did not win an award and wasn't even nominated for anything) basking in the pulsing blasts of strobes as the winner of best comedy movie, Cameron Crowe stood off to the side, nearly ignored by all until a Globes official chased Theron off the stage.

Director Ang Lee was lead to the photo room with a stunning woman on his arm that all of the photographers assumed to be martial arts star Michelle Yeoh. Screams of "Michelle looks this way" and "Michelle look over your shoulder" rang out. After the couple walked off it was announced that she was actually actress Zhang Ziyi, a chorus of "Oh s**t" rang out and someone yelled "I just wasted 15 f**king frames!"

But there is a flip side to this madness. After Tom Hanks, winner of best actor in a drama movie, finished his 60 seconds in the photo room, a woman sitting next to me was nearly in tears when she discovered that her on-camera flash wasn't working. "That's going to cost me a ton of money!" she said.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
And there is also the humorous side. One veteran "paparazzi" yells out "IT'S ME!" to try to get the attention of celebrities. This appears to be his trade mark move. (This is akin to yelling "MOMMY" in a crowded super market everyone turns around.) So when he yelled out "IT'S ME!" to best actor winner Martin Sheen he turned and looked in the direction of the voice and said "That doesn't work anymore!" Click, click, click, clickflash, flash, flash yes it does.

This made me think that this is a living for most of these people in the room. It's not unlike what we do on the sidelines of a 49er game or on the baseline at the Mt. Whitney High gymnasium.

It's a living.

This isn't a place where the extreme "paparazzi" are out practicing their guerilla tactics (like forcing Kim Basinger off the road so they can snap photos when she gets out of her car) it is celebrity photography at it's most basic level.

But it is exciting, funny, terrifying and a little bit sad. Next time I'll remember to bring earplugs.

* * *
Editor's notes:

Want a CoolPix 990? How about an Epson 1270 Photo Stylus Printer? Or a Lightware Digital Backpack?

The deadline for the annual Sports Shooter Contest is January 28. We have prizes valued in excess of $9,000 donated by our loyal Sports Shooter sponsors. All entries must be received at by midnight Pacific Time.

For details on the contest and entry rules, look else where in this issue.

We have another great issue of Sports Shooter this month, with an interesting look at shooting portraits by The Sporting News' Robert Seale. Regular contributor Vince Laforet from the New York Times gives us a step-by-step walk-through on using the wireless TTL features on the Canon 550 EX strobes. Rick Rickman and "The Count," Eric Risberg, check in with their regular columns. And we have loads of Super Bowl information for those heading to Tampa this weekend.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on that monitor, start that Ahn Trio CD and enjoy Sports Shooter v.27.

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