Are celebrities fair game?

nene

I’m still feeling all weird and conflicted about Paper Giants: Magazine Wars. It doesn’t help that people keep asking if I’m one of the characters in it, or commenting on how much I physically resemble the Nene King character.

So I’ve gone retro today, with a blog from a year ago today, as it happens to be about the same kind of thing. Me being the subject of reverse paparazzi, fortunately in a far less dramatic way than poor Nene after her husband Patrick died.

Here’s how it went …

I got stalked by the paparazzi once. Sort of. A junior researcher at The Chaser thought it would be funny to stake out my house with a fake photographer. Except he didn’t do his homework very well and went to my old house, which I hadn’t lived in for five years. The owner rang me, most distressed, asking if I could make the pesky fellow go away.

I immediately called the TV station involved and expressed deep moral outrage that some poor innocent woman was being harrassed. Something I wouldn’t have been able to do if the guy had staked out the correct house. Because, as the editor of Woman’s Day magazine at the time, I was in the business of buying photographs from paparazzi. Getting snippy about being “papped” myself would have been a mite hypocritical.

The Sunday Telegraph ran an exclusive story on “Photo fakes” a couple of days ago (a bit late with the commentary, I know, but the long weekend was MAD). It was about celebrities who collude with paparazzi photographers one day, then moan about their privacy being invaded the next.

It’s something that’s always driven me up the wall. I hate that the public only hears the “woe is me” moaning, not the kerching of money changing hands between the star and the snapper.

So the story should have twiddled my knobs. But it didn’t. I just felt awful for Shane Warne’s ex-wife, Simone Callahan, who featured in the story as being ”allegedly tricked into pre-arranged photoshoots by her new boyfriend”.

Paparazzi photographer Jamie Fawcett was quoted as saying: “You can’t write this story about this bloke, how would he look? The damage you’d do would be terrible and would make you a c***. You would also make [Mr Roberts] look like a c*** and I don’t think he is a c***.”

And I started thinking: was Jamie right? Not about Mr Roberts looking like a c***, we all dig our own graves, but about it making the journalist look like a c***?

I didn’t enjoy seeing Simone Callahan humilated. She has to watch her ex-husband parade around with Liz Hurley, she discovers her boyfriend has allegedly sold her out to the paparazzi and now it’s in the Sunday paper for the world to see.

Sure, she probably needed to know – but did everyone else? It felt cruel rather than news that MUST be told.

(Unless, of course, I’m not in full possession of the facts and Simone knew more than she’s saying. But I’m taking the poor woman at her word.)

I’m not without sin. I spent five years editing a magazine filled with celebrity gossip. There are many skeletons in my closet. But some make me wince more than others. I once got a tip-off that an Aussie actress’s dad had killed himself. The horrible event wasn’t recent, it had happened years before. Still, I was stoked with my exclusive. I couldn’t wait to break the news. Except it wasn’t news that anyone wanted to hear. The magazine didn’t sell, the actress was distraught, her agent was furious. It was a lose-lose-lose situation.

Would I do it again? No.

Yet I’m completely fascinated by stuff like John Travolta’s secret life being exposed. And I will greedily read every word.

I have no answers, only questions. So I’m asking:

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are celebrities fair game? Do you read exposes or turn the page?

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