I’m generally unsympathetic when I read or hear about celebrities wanting shelter or legal protection from the very entities that, in fact, make them what they are.
During my 10-year-plus stint with the Los Angeles courts, I saw plenty of celebrities come through courthouse corridors and grace courtrooms.
Some, such as rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (cum Snoop Dogg, cum Snoop Lion — as in the reincarnation of Bob Marley), who came into the downtown Los Angeles County Courthouse alone and proceeded to the courtroom for a case in which he was being sued. No entourage, not screaming fans, no paparazzi, no reporters, no hangers on. Not even any head turning. Granted it was somewhere around 1998 or’ 99, but he was a celebrity even then.
Same with John Malkovich a few years earlier. Rather than being a party in a case, Maklovich came to the county courthouse in a show of support for a Hollywood colleague who had been sued for breach of contract. I spotted him during a court break squatting — yes squatting — against a wall in the hall across from the entrance to the courtroom where his friend’s trial was being held. Not another soul seemed to notice him.
Some stars, such as Kim Basinger and Bette Midler, preferred to slip in quietly, sometimes sans makeup, poofed hair or flashy fashions, which almost guaranteed they wouldn’t be mobbed or even recognized.
There were the likes of Pamela Anderson (Lee, at the time), whose advance men made sure the media know she would be cat-walking the halls en route to her civil-trial venue and the media obliging en force, with male drool so deep, I practically had to wear boots.
And then there was that one-of-a-kind, Michael Jackson, whose entourages were legion and media turnouts were unparalleled.
The point being that stars and media-types need each other — some to lesser or greater degree than others.
For the most part, though, the only ones who’ve ever needed shielding, so far as I’m concerned, are the children of famous people. Alec Baldwin was justified, I thought, when he shoved a paparazzi’s camera when the clod pushed it in Baldwin’s car (or it might have been a pickup truck or an SUV) window, to get pictures of Baldwin’s newborn baby. I don’t thing Baldwin would have been justified had the photographer just been trying to get pictures of Baldwin.
So here are celebrities carping about the British government not stepping up to the plate to protect them from Britain’s so-called “unruly press.”
Hugh Grant urges tougher media laws
(Hugh Grant — Reuters file)
One issue these stars are carping about is having their email and telephones hacked. And maybe they have a point. Perhaps they should rightly have an expectation of privacy when it comes to what they think are private communications.
What do you think?
Celebrities like JK Rowling and Hugh Grant have accused the British government of letting down the victims of media intrusion and urged tough new measures to rein in Britain’s unruly press.
Lawmakers are to vote today on rival plans for tougher controls in the wake of the country’s phone-hacking scandal.
The Conservative-led government says it will propose a new press watchdog with the power to levy fines of up to £1 million (US $1.5 million). But hacking victims say the regulator must be backed by a new law to give it real teeth – something Prime Minister David Cameron opposes.
Harry Potter author Rowling – who testified previously to a media ethics inquiry about the impact of intrusive media upon her family – said she and other victims felt they “have been hung out to dry” by the government.
Grant, who won damages for phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, said hacking victims supported a rival plan by the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party for stronger media measures. The actor said lawmakers “promised victims to do right by them, and they have that chance on Monday.”
Debate about how to control the press has raged in Britain since revelations in 2011 that tabloid journalists had eavesdropped on voicemails, bribed officials for information and hacked into computers in a relentless quest for scoops.
The scandal has brought the demise of one newspaper – Murdoch’s News of the World – along with dozens of arrests and resignations, scores of lawsuits against Murdoch’s media empire and a public inquiry into media ethics.
That inquiry, led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, last year recommended the creation of a strong press watchdog body dominated by non-journalists and backed by government regulation.
But negotiations between Cameron’s Conservatives and others over how to implement those recommendations have stalled amid an increasingly acrimonious debate. Politicians are divided about whether a new press watchdog should be set up through legislation – as recommended by Leveson – or through a Royal Charter, an executive act that does not require a vote in Parliament.
Proponents say passing a law will put the watchdog on a firmer footing and give it more power to discipline rogue newspapers. Opponents believe that passing a media law would endanger the country’s free press.
In fact, the proposals aren’t all that different. A new law would set up an independent press watchdog, not control the media directly. And the regulator would only have the power to impose fines or demand published apologies from newspapers – not to stop articles being published.
But the language of the debate has been fierce, with opponents fearing the demise of Britain’s free press and advocates seeing a bullying media riding roughshod over people’s rights.
“The idea of a law – a great, big, all-singing, all-dancing media law … would have been bad for press freedom, bad for individual freedom,” Cameron said.
Rowling accused the prime minister of letting down hacking victims by ignoring Leveson’s proposals.
“I believed David Cameron when he said that he would implement Leveson’s recommendations `unless they were bonkers,'” she said. “I did not see how he could back away, with honour, from words so bold and unequivocal.
“Well, he has backed away, and I am one among many who feel they have been hung out to dry.”
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