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Are paparazzi going too far?

Celebrity publicist and photographer discuss the issue with MSNBC's Cosby
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The demand for celebrity pictures is on the rise.  That means big business for celebrity photographers. 

But are the paparazzi really to blame for the recent rash of run-ins with the Hollywood big stars? 

On Friday, Celebrity Publicist Ken Sunshine along with Celebrity Photographer James Edstrom joined MSNBC's Rita Cosby on 'Live and Direct' to discuss the tension between the paparazzi and those they pursue.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

RITA COSBY: Ken, do you think the paparazzi-do you think they're out of control? 


COSBY:  Why? 

SUNSHINE:  Because anybody that goes near or watches a celebrity, particularly in L.A. -- it's much worse in L.A. now than anywhere -- would be appalled by the tactics they're using to get photos at any cost.

Putting a camera two inches away from a celebrity and snapping constantly without stopping, jumping out of trees, out of bushes, trying to cause accidents in cars, trying to create chaos.  The Reese Witherspoon incident, to me, is among the worst that I've heard of. 

When is it going to stop?  I mean, Princess Diana is dead, at least in part, because of an insane aggressive actions by these stalkers.  I thought it might stop then.  It's gotten worse. 

COSBY:  And isn't there sort of, though, a need-need relationship?  I mean, they're not all bad.  You represent, I know, a lot of the big names, Ben Affleck, to name one.  And his relationship with J-Lo was all in the headlines always.

Doesn't it help, also?  And now he's with Jennifer Garner.  I mean, don't you also want these great pictures, because they certainly elevate the star? 


COSBY:  You don't at all? 


COSBY:  Wait, so you're saying no cameras, no pictures at all? 

SUNSHINE:  You know, obviously, we want photos of movies or projects that we're promoting.  But in terms of, do my clients want photos taken in this manner?  No and, in fact, wish they wouldn't get them.

And I understand that the tactics of the regular paparazzis, you know, the normal fray of getting photos of celebrities while they're walking down the street may be part of the price of celebrity.  Now, I may not like it, and I wish that it wouldn't exist, but that's a lot different than these aggressive stalker tactics that are going on all the time, particularly in L.A.  It's outrageous.

COSBY:  Now, Ken, you're obviously in a vocal crusade.  How come other people have not jumped the bandwagon?  Are you disappointed that other P.R.  reps who have had, unfortunately similar incidents with their own stars, too?  Are you disappointed you're one of the lone voices out there really fighting for this?

SUNSHINE:  No, they are other voices.  I mean, they don't like going public like this.  And I don't know. 

But I hear from celebrity reps all the time.  Unfortunately, there are a few.  And it's part of the dirty little secret in Hollywood.  Some of the press reps, these P.R. people, are part of the problem, because they feed some of these stalkers with information, they sell out their a-level celebrities so that unknowns they may represent may get in some of these magazines. 

It's part of the dirty little secret of Hollywood.  But the great majority of press people agree with me.  They may not choose to be as outspoken.  And, you know, that's their privilege. 

COSBY:  Well, Ken Sunshine, it's great to have you with us.  I know you represent a lot of the big guys out there.  And we appreciate it.  Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, just to name a few.  Thank you, Ken, very much for being with us. 

And now, thanks to a new law in California, celebrities can triple the damages that they could win if they're assaulted by the paparazzi.  But are the photographers really to blame?  Joining me now is one known celebrity photographer, James Edstrom. 

Ken Sunshine says you guys are out of control.  Are you? 

JAMES EDSTROM, CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER:  There are a certain amount of people that are out of control, OK?  But the majority of the paparazzis are very hard-working people who are out there day and night taking photos and giving these people publicity. 

If nobody's writing about Ken's clients and nobody's photographing Ken's clients, Ken's clients are not going to be paid $20-30 million for a movie. 

COSBY:  And there's a lot of celebrities -- you talked about a couple.  In fact, John Travolta is one of your favorites, right?  There's a lot who say, "Thank you, thank you," right? 

EDSTROM:  John Travolta, he's excellent to photograph, though his bodyguards sometimes, you know, push you out of the way.  And we always have a problem with police, too, because police always want to get involved and decide that they're the bodyguards to the celebrity. 

But John Travolta is great.  He always asks you what you need and what he can do.

COSBY:  Now, speaking of bodyguards, Janet Jackson.  How aggressive is that?  Is that a fight?

EDSTROM:  Well, you know, a few months ago, I was walking down Broadway.  And one of the the cops on the beat told me that Janet Jackson was going to arrive.  And I waited in front of a theater.  And she arrived. 

And her bodyguards, or her friends, or whoever they were got very aggressive with me.  I mean, I don't understand why a celebrity can just not stand there for two seconds and you go on your way, I go on my way.  We work very, very hard to give these people publicity. 

COSBY:  Star Jones, how is she? 

EDSTROM:  Star Jones, I photographed a few weeks ago for South African tourism.  And she was a lot of fun.  I mean, it was just a riot photographing her.  And the photos came out fantastic. 

COSBY:  ... How much a really good one could go for, really quick?  What's the most? 

EDSTROM:  Well, you know, a lot of these photos are just good for space rate, you know?  But a lot of these paparazzis are going crazy in L.A.  And I have to agree with Ken when he says that a lot of them are out of control in L.A. 

COSBY:  Well, that's the key.  They have to be a classy photographer.  There's a balance between the two. 

EDSTROM:  There always is a balance.  I try and be as polite as possible, but I have been attacked many, many times.  And it's kind of like our other problem with the business.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.