Sundance films turn cameras on the paparazzi

Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:36pm EST
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By Cameron French

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - In a celebrity culture that turns the spotlight on its heroes to uncover their flaws, it seems only natural, at some point, to return it to the people who take the pictures -- the paparazzi -- to see if they can live up to their own scrutiny.

Two films at this week's Sundance Film Festival have taken on that cause. One examines the career of one of the industry's icons, Ron Galella, and the other is a turn-the-tables effort by paparazzi target, actor Adrian Grenier of "Entourage" fame.

In "Teenage Paparazzo", Grenier picks up his own camera to pursue Austin Visschedyk, a 13-year-old paparazzo whom Grenier met after he was ambushed by the young photographer.

Initially motivated by curiosity and concern for the teenager -- who routinely stays out until 2 a.m. on school nights jostling for shooting position with men twice his age -- Grenier broadens the focus to the relationship between paparazzi and the celebrities who are their targets.

"One of the reasons I made this film was to diffuse the tension that's so apparent between the paparazzi and the celebrities," Grenier told Reuters at Sundance.

"There's this one-way street, a one-way conversation. They're firing at you, but there's no real exchange."

Grenier, who calls his film a "big, fat kiss to the paparazzi," has a resume perfectly suited for the task. He is, after all, someone who became a star by playing a star on TV -- heartthrob film actor Vincent Chase on "Entourage."

For "Teenage Paparazzo," Grenier dips into his celebrity connections to strike interviews with targets such as Lindsay Lohan, Eva Longoria and Paris Hilton, who eventually becomes a co-conspirator with Grenier in manufacturing a "photo op."   Continued...