Big Business of Selling Celebrity Secrets
From airports, doctor's offices to court, there's no safe place to be a celeb.
Sept. 22, 2009— -- Celebrities are used to having their private information leaked by limo drivers, hair dressers, personal assistants. But the people who are supposed to protect them -- police, doctors, medical personnel -- are apparently getting in on the big business of selling celebrity secrets.
In one extreme case, for instance, Bahamian officials allegedly demanded $25 million from actor John Travolta to keep information about his son's death from being sold to tabloid newspapers -- allegations the officials deny.
Travolta's son Jett, 16, died of a seizure Jan. 2 while vacationing in the Bahamas. Opening arguments in the case begin today, where Travolta is expected to testify.
In another high-profile case, days after singer Chris Brown hit Rihanna, official police evidence -- a photo of the apparently battered singer -- was posted on TMZ, the entertainment news Web site. Brown was sentenced to probation and community service.
Even actress Sarah Jessica Parker's surrogate, Michelle Ross, became a target when two Ohio Police chiefs were charged with burglarizing her home -- charges they too deny.
"I am incredibly outraged by the sort of extraordinary and unprecedented invasion of her privacy," Parker told Access Hollywood. "The most unsavory things have been done. She's had her phone hacked, her personal computer information hacked."
Terry Ahern, founder of Stoparazzi, a group that fights for the privacy rights of celebrities, said celebrities are no longer safe anywhere.
"Airports, medical centers, doctor's offices, courts," he said, "they're all penetrated, and they all have leads inside of there that dish this information. It's usually people at low levels who don't have as much to lose as far as a career, and the tradeoff for the money they're going to make on a story."
Take Lawanda Jackson, an administrative assistant at UCLA Medical Center, who allegedly sold the details about actress Farrah Fawcett's cancer to the National Enquirer.
Fawcett's best friend, Alana Stewart, said Fawcett knew early on the leak had to come from inside the hospital.
"She would go to get an eye exam, and, then, three days later, it would be in the Enquirer that she is going blind," Stewart said. "And then she would to the gynecologist for a pap smear and it would say she's having a hysterectomy. But there would be a little pinch of the truth in it but it was always greatly exaggerated. [Fawcett] said the National Enquirer caused her more stress than the cancer. It just infuriated her, and she felt so violated."