New Year Ringing in With Paparazzi Reform Law Going into Effect

Reese Witherspoon

Jennifer Aniston

Tomorrow (1/1) not only marks the beginning of a brand new year  — it also marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of celebrities besieged by paparazzi.  This is the day a new law intended to curb dangerous excesses by hounding photographers goes into effect, thanks to the tireless efforts of Paparazzi Reform Initiative Founder & CEO Sean Burke, and former California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

“We feel this newest law will make a difference – it increases penalties on reckless driving when someone is in pursuit of a photograph for commercial sale,” Burke tells us.  “In short – paparazzi chasing celebrities by car, when they run lights and otherwise drive recklessly, can be arrested for a misdemeanor (instead of a simple traffic infraction) and can be put in jail for up to a year if the car they were chasing had a minor in it and if that minor was put in any kind of danger as a result of the chase.  We are already getting indications that the paparazzi won’t be chasing like they have in the past.  And with that, the general public (as well as the celebrity and their children) are safer.”

Burke also notes, “To help ensure this is the case, we are designing a video system with an automotive audio/video installation company that celebrities can install in their car to shoot video out the back to capture footage of any paparazzi chasing them.  Likewise, we have been coordinating with the LA County DA’s office and LA City Attorney’s office on exactly what they will need to prosecute offenders of the new law. ”

The bill — supported by celebrities including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon – passed months ago.  You may recall a first paparazzi reform bill — that imposes fines on photogs who violate famous persons’ right to privacy, and the media outlets that buy them — being signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.  That, too, was a result of former celebrity security man Burke’s work.  More information can be found at his organization’s web site,

Media organizations have complained about these laws potentially interfering with First Amendment rights, but we sincerely disbelieve that Amendment was intended to make camera mob harassment legal.  Perhaps if the energy being put into those complaints went into efforts toward self-regulation instead, it would be more productive.  Meanwhile, here’s hoping that if California can manage to enforce reasonable safe practices, it will serve as a model for other states and countries.

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This entry was posted in The Hollywood Exclusive by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and tagged , , on by .

About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

One thought on “New Year Ringing in With Paparazzi Reform Law Going into Effect

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