September 4, 2006

Affleck blasts paparazzi for intrusion

By Eric J. Lyman

VENICE, Italy (Hollywood Reporter) - Paparazzi are coming
under fire in Venice. Ben Affleck, who stars in "Hollywoodland"
-- a film about the mysterious death of Superman actor George
Reeves -- took the opportunity to lash out at the photographers
eager to snap his shot.

"I think more and more people pay attention to actors'
private lives (and that) makes it difficult to suspend
disbelief when you are going to watch their movie because
really what you are thinking about is whatever you have read
about them in a magazine rather than the performance they are
giving, and it makes the actor's job harder," Affleck said at a
news conference. "The movies become incidental pit-stops and
commercial breaks in the soap opera of their life."

Affleck's comments sparked a renewed interest in Venice
about paparazzi, who were booed when they appeared on the
screen early during the world premiere of "The Queen" on
Saturday -- three days after the anniversary of Princess
Diana's 1997 death. The docudrama is about the friction between
British Premier Tony Blair and the Queen in the wake of the car
crash that ended the princess' life.

Both "Hollywoodland" and "The Queen" are among the 21 films
in competition at this year's festival.

For their part, festival organizers said that despite
Affleck's comments, there appeared to be no increase in
paparazzi-related complaints at this year's festival.

"The photographers are doing their job like everyone else
at the festival," one official said. "We haven't received any
complaints about inappropriate behavior" by photographers.

And photographers covering the festival defended their

"The photographers in Venice are doing the same exact thing
they do at all festivals," said Geoff Pugh, a three-year Venice
veteran with London's Daily Telegraph. "But I guess people have
to complain about something."

But it was actor-director Ethan Hawke -- whose directorial
sophomore effort, "The Hottest State," premiered out of
competition on Saturday -- who tried to put the issue in
perspective when he was questioned about attention from
photographers at the press conference for his film.

"If the paparazzi are bothering you," Hawke said, "it
probably means you are having a pretty wonderful life."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter