Picks and Pans Review: Turning Point
Part of the solution or part of the problem? This entertaining edition of the ABC News series makes few bones about being both. Its primary focus is the paparazzi—or "stalkerazzi," as they're referred to here—camera people who range from those who doggedly stand outside movie premieres for a star sighting to those who hassle celebrities in hopes of snapping them in a moment of pique. One minute, wry reporter Robert Krulwich is mocking the photographers' relentless intrusiveness. Next, he's deploring it. Next, he's mocking and deploring it even as he compounds the nuisance by joining veteran paparazzo Alan Zanger on a stakeout of Debbie Rowe, mother of the tabloid world's No. 1 photo target: Jacko Jr.
The camouflage-jacketed Zanger says subjects who don't like his spying should "mind their own business." A guy with such gall can hardly expect widespread sympathy, even though he was slugged in the line of duty in 1995 by Alec Baldwin (later tried for misdemeanor battery, Baldwin was acquitted). But a few of the photographers come across as human beings making a tough living. There's Jim Smeal, a freelancer who relies on the traditional approach—patient waiting as opposed to active harassment. Smeal, whose work has appeared in PEOPLE, holds his position for 14 hours outside the media-mobbed L.A. premiere of the movie Evita—and winds up with not a single salable shot of Madonna. When the Stardust clears, poor Smeal looks as if he has dropped a month's pay at the racetrack.