The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

14 Feb
Eric Greenberg

The Paparazzi Predicament

written by Eric Greenberg in Blog | 3 comments

Celebrities and the paparazzi have a funny relationship. They both need each other, with the upper hand changing based on the brightness of the star. A guy like George Clooney is a movie star in the classic sense of the term. Like the big screen idols of the 40s and 50s, he’d be every bit as famous if there were no E!, People Magazine or TMZ. Move to the opposite end of the talent line and you’ll find plenty of professional celebrities who don’t really do all that much and need to be seen around town to stay relevant. Somewhere between those two points, you’ll find Britney Spears, whose recent paparazzi car chases and stakeouts have made people take another look at how all this works.

Here’s where I have a very little bit of sympathy for gossip photographers. They have a job to do like you and me and no matter what you think about it, it has to be stressful. There’s a lot of competition for the same photos and, in some cases, celebrities don’t respect their rights. The problem is, we as a society often forget that celebrities aren’t characters, they’re actual people. They get sad when they’re going through a divorce. Some of them have real drug problems. Their kids get scared in big crowds just like yours. Think about how you feel when someone you care about dies. Now imagine having to deal with that while a crowd of strangers is following you snapping photos of your misery, as they have with Michelle Williams. I don’t expect anyone to cry celebrities a river. Just think about it.

Unfortunately, none of this really matters because it’s not illegal to be rude and insensitive. But it is illegal to put people in physical danger and invade their personal space-and that’s what’s happening here. It’s only a matter of time before a high speed chase not only hurts a celebrity or their family, but innocent people caught in the middle. The question is: what do we do about it?

Right now in Los Angeles, one city councilman thinks he has the answer. Dennis Zine wants to eliminate the problem by forcing the paparazzi to stay 20 yards away from celebrities who are considered to be major targets. This is just crazy. In legal terms, I don’t see how you can enforce a restraining order on someone who hasn’t done anything wrong. In practical terms, I don’t see how this could possibly operate. Where is the cut-off between who gets this protection and who doesn’t? Will they get protection for life like the President does or does it get taken away after three consecutive box office flops? Short of handing Perez Hilton a gavel and robe and having the stars come in to plead their case, I don’t see how this can possibly work. Actually, that’s not a bad idea for a reality show (Don’t even think about stealing it. That’s all mine.).

The Los Angeles police chief seems to think there are enough laws already on the books to deal with the problem, and I tend to agree. I’m no law enforcement expert, but this all seems a little more complicated than it has to be. The danger doesn’t come from the photo being taken at ten foot range. It comes from the existing laws that are being broken to get there. If you’re a truck driver or a pizza delivery guy, you have to follow the speed limit in the course of doing your job. Knowing the faces of the people involved doesn’t make this any different. Nobody is allowed to drive recklessly. Nobody is allowed to trespass on private property whether it be a front yard or the hood of a car. You might even be able to make a case that putting a flash in a young baby’s face constitutes some form of harassment. Just enforce the laws that apply to the risk, without violating the rights of the press and giving celebrities special treatment that the public will resent.

Here’s an uneducated quick fix. Send in a few under cover police officers to hang out with the paparazzi on a stake out. When the high speed chase begins, start writing tickets and suspending licenses. It will be a lot harder for them to get the next great shot of Paris or TomCat if they’re tying to keep up on their skateboards.

I know we’re talking about Hollywood, but still, let’s give common sense a shot.




    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 14th, 2008

    How about designated paparazzi-free zones? Every business from botiques to funeral homes could apply for a PF license, which would make it illegal for paparazzi to practice their trade on the premises. Naturally, the license would be ridiculously expensive, with 5% of the proceeds going to the International League of Paparazzi and the rest going to city coffers. Meanwhile, such businesses would benefit from the cache and moolah of celebrity clients. Everybody wins!

    on Feb. 17th, 2008

    Anyone know if Barry is going to be doing “Ask Barry” again? i loved that!

    Eric Greenberg
    on Feb. 17th, 2008

    Hi Brandon,

    Just hit the “Greg’s Story” tab at the top of the site, scroll down past Barry’s bio, and you’ll see that “Ask Barry” is still here.

    Hope you get an answer to whatever’s on your mind! Thanks for stopping by.


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