We’re used to seeing celebrities flip off paparazzi in the street. But did you know that red carpet photographers have no problem turning the tables?
That's right. Sometimes celebrity photographers, sick of a star's behavior, will refuse to take their photo. We're talking 20 or 30 photographers at a red carpet event putting their cameras down, en masse, when a certain celeb starts to pose.
Talk about embarrassing!
So who’s the latest star creeping towards photographers' "no flash" list?
“Charlize Theron. She doesn’t like to stop for us or even smile,” veteran Hollywood photographer James Smeal told us. “I even said congratulations when she was nominated for a Golden Globe, and she totally ignores you. That’s the worst.”
Other red carpet photographers concur that Theron is on a short leash.
“Charlize is the newest talk around the line because she is typically rushed if she even stops at all… But it really doesn’t take that much to keep us happy,” one insisted. “I don’t know if it’s just that major celebs are so pressed for time, if it’s their publicists that instigate the line rushing, if they really don’t like doing it, or if they don’t understand we are not street paparazzi."
The shutterbug wants celebs to know there is a big difference.
"We are photo journalists that cover entertainment. I know that if I ever became famous enough to warrant attention from press photographers, that it is just part of the job," the photographed said. "You can’t enter into the entertainment spotlight and not expect to get attention from the press, whether it is a photographer or reporter.”
A rep for Theron did not respond to a request for comment.
So how is a celeb ban orchestrated? Photographers share their frustrations with each other on a daily basis, and when frustrations reach a boiling point, one or two of the photogs lead the way by drafting up a letter (or these days, an email) which is circulated among the others. They all then decide on the best event to start, and then the photographs stop.
However, photogs do on occasion issue warning signs before going full-throttle with a ban.
“Before the extreme of a boycott, we boo them,” one photographer explained.
This shutterbug wants to make clear how much work and care they put into their jobs.
“We are cleared and given permission to do the carpet. We get there hours and hours before and we’re told in advance who is supposed to turn up," the shoot said. "The paparazzi industry has made us look bad and it’s not right. We are shooting for legitimate agencies. We don’t want to be disrespected; surely a smile for a few moments isn’t that hard.”
But Theron is hardly the first to draw celeb snappers' ire.
After the death of Princess Diana in 1997, George Clooney – who already had beef with paparazzi over their relentless pursuits – scolded photographers and tabloids for their actions, and the red carpet snappers took it as a personal attack. In response, they all agreed to not photograph Clooney at both the New York and Los Angeles premieres of the first big DreamWorks film, “The Peacemaker.”
“It was a ripple effect; we made it clear we were really upset. A couple of us drafted a letter and gave it to his publicist,” Smeal continued. “Finally George came up to us, apologized that things were taken the wrong way and said he was going to make a statement. He then went up to all the video crews and said that things should have been worded differently, he apologized. He set the record straight, and to this day he has been great.”
Sylvester Stallone also caused an uproar after reportedly calling the photographers “legalized stalkers.” At the opening of a new Planet Hollywood in Rome in 1997, shooters in attendance refused to photograph him. Then at the Emmys that same year, “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher found herself flash-free, having reportedly whined about the photographers in the weeks prior. Drescher reportedly retaliated by "walking briskly down the red carpet.” At the time, she declined to comment on the incident.
Sharon Stone also had her photo-free days. Smeal recalled that it all went down around the time that the 1995 hit “Casino” came out and she wasn’t paying attention to the red carpet snappers, the ones who watched her rise to fame. The result? He said they snubbed her at three separate events.
“Her publicist at the time couldn’t understand why we weren’t shooting her, so we explained. It happened a few times until she finally got the message,” Smeal said. “The same thing happened with Jennifer Lopez around the same time that ‘Selena’ (1997) came out. She hardly posed and we were furious.”
Reps for Stone and Lopez did not respond to a request for comment.
After Clooney made amends, others apparently followed suit and made nice. Several of the snappers we talked to now claim that Stone, Clooney and Lopez are now among the nicest and easiest to photograph.
“George is like this God in Hollywood, even back in 1997. Everyone looks to George and followed his cue,” Smeal explained.
One New York-based photographer says Theron and many others simply don’t respond well to the boisterous yelling and screaming (“Over here! Look at me! This way!”) and the overall red carpet chaos.
“Ask her (Charlize) nicely and calmly, and I have never had a problem. She just doesn’t like rudeness,” the photog explained. “Renee Zellweger is another who likes things quiet and calm, so we all hush when she comes. They will all give you your shot if you just don’t yell at them.”
But others prefer that sourpuss stars don’t bother wasting their time at all.
“I would just rather that if they don’t want to be photographed, then don’t step onto the carpet,” another said simply. “It is rude to come onto a red carpet where the purpose is to pose for photos and talk to reporters and then just blow past everyone.”