Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Confront Paparazzo in Tense TV Showdown


Like throwing a lit match on a puddle of gasoline, Access Hollywood arranged a segment in which Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard — who have campaigned for magazines to stop publishing photographs of celebrity kids — sat down with the owner of a paparazzi agency. Kaboom.

Bell and Shepard have been extremely vocal about this situation — as have Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner. And there’s been some progress: Entertainment Tonight, Just Jared and People have all vowed to stop publishing unauthorized images of celebrity kids; Perez Hilton recently sorta kinda joined the movement.

As Bell puts it in the segment: “We believe that if the paparazzi were no longer getting paid, they would stop hunting children. The magazines are paying the paparazzi because they believe that the consumers want [the photos].”

She and Shepard get very emotional, with Bell attempting to explain how it feels to be alone with her baby, surrounded by men who are yelling at her, and Shepard declaring: “If you don’t have an ethical issue with that, then you don’t have ethics.”

AKM/GSI photo agency owner Steve Ginsburg and celebrity reporter Christian Zimmerman — who’s been on KTLA but is now an educator (?) — pushed back, with Zimmerman calling Bell’s descriptions “hysterical,” which, FYI, is a deeply condescending thing to say to a woman who feels threatened. Ginsburg was more measured, claming, “I’d be the first one to say something needs to be done to fix this business.” (Um, you missed your chance to be the first, but go on.) “Photographers need to be regulated,” he continued. And there is a law in California now, but it deals with harassment. Which means that if you are shooting a star from underneath a pier while she’s frolicking on the beach with their kids, you’re good to go. Access Hollywood provided a shot of just that kind of situation: Hole in a surfboart.

But Ginsberg added that any solution would take cooperation from all sides: “At the end of the day, this business is not going anywhere.” He went on: “You have succeeded in getting certain clients of mine to stop buying photos. But the photographs are not stopping. I’m still receiving photos.” He argued that a “kid photo” is a “nice photo.” “Family at the beach, all smiles, photographers are not on them, it’s not creating a scene… Those are nice photos, and they have a good possibility of being printed.” And a segment of the public eats that stuff up: The relaxed, real, unscripted moment, the antithesis of over-produced, over-styled glossy magazine shoots.

Shepard made his case this way: “We did choose [our jobs]. But our child hasn’t chosen to be a public figure. So why should our child have to suffer because of the career path we’ve chosen?” There was no good reply to that from the other side, other than “it’s our constitutional right to take pictures in public places.”

Ginsburg was asked if he would ever be bold enough to stop accepting photos of children, and replied: “To be frank about business? No. Because if I say to photographers out there ‘I will no longer accept photos of children,’ they will pack up, leave to another agency, and I’m out of a business.”

But Bell and Shepard will not be deterred. When Ginsburg asked if they really think they’re going to get to every client in every country on the globe to stop publishing pictures of celebrity kids, Kristen Bell said simply, “Yeah.”

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