Celeb Pre-School Is a Paparazzi Hot Spot

Evenstad -- whose company supplies photographs for many popular publications, including People magazine, Us weekly, The Enquirer and The New York Times -- said there are always a few bad apples in any profession. But he insisted that, for the most part, the paparazzi safely are doing jobs protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"I understand that photographing Jennifer Garner going to pick up her child for the eighth time, that the parents might look at the 10 photographers there and wonder how this is 'news gathering?'" Evenstad said. "But the point is that to entertainment magazines, it is, and does have news value."

News value or not, celebrities have had some injurious brushes with paparazzi.

Actress Lindsay Lohan was cut and bruised after a photographer allegedly drove his vehicle into her car. And Scarlett Johansson reportedly crashed her car while being chased by photographers.

Over the years, "Legally Blonde" actress Reese Witherspoon has accused photographers of trying to force her off the road, of assaulting her and her children with curse words and of harassing her family at Disneyland.

Santa Monica city officials agreed the possible effect on the children was cause for concern and voted unanimously this week to investigate the parents' concerns, to make sure police were enforcing existing laws and to consider the idea of a 100-foot "buffer zone" around the school to keep celebrity photographers at a distance.

But history suggests most legal efforts aimed at curtailing the activity and access of celebrity photographers fall short. Anti-paparazzi campaigns in Malibu and Los Angeles still are talk and no action.

California does have one bill on the books designed to rein in overzealous paparazzi.

In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- whose family was the target of extreme paparazzi tactics in the 1990s -- signed a bill that tripled the amount of money in damages people can win if they are assaulted by paparazzi in pursuit of a photo. It also blocked photographers from making money from photos acquired during altercations.

As far as veteran celebrity photographer Ben Evenstad is concerned, there are sufficient rules and regulations protecting the public -- famous or not. And in the end, he said, the object of the photo does not call the shots.

"The choice of whether to be covered by the media is not the subject's choice," Evenstad said. "I have gone for Scarlett Johansson and she says, 'You can't take my picture, I don't want you to.' But this is not how it works.

"Taking choice and putting it into a school's hand or a shop owner's hand, that's just not how it works," he added. "People are going to get covered if they are newsworthy and we can make money by taking their picture."

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