Entertainment: Paparazzi with Drones

Article excerpt

Byline: --Caitlin Dickson

The future of celebrity stalking.

This week, celebrity gossip site TMZ was put in the unusual position of defending itself against a rumor. A misreported claim that the notoriously shameless site was in the market for a drone caused widespread Internet panic. Even after TMZ and the Federal Aviation Administration both denied the report, the image of paparazzi-manned drones flying around Beverly Hills backyards, snapping photos of unsuspecting celebrities in their swimsuits, remained a tough one to shake.

"It's very real, it's very frightening, and it's very inevitable," longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman said of drone-armed paparazzi. With small smartphone-controlled drones already available for several hundred dollars, he thinks drones with cameras will become commonplace in Hollywood by next year. "Trust me, if TMZ doesn't do it, someone will."

Still, Bragman noted, paparazzi already go to great lengths to snap a candid celebrity shot, and celebrities already go to equally great lengths to shield themselves. Even if desperate photogs aren't sending remote-controlled helicopter cameras over privacy hedges just yet, they are in the habit of flying actual helicopters over celebrity weddings. But Mike Zimet, who provides security for celebrities, long ago figured out the secret to keeping leering eyes and lenses away from such intimate affairs: it's called a tent. …