In connection with the 10th anniversary of the MTV reality show, The Hills, some of its past stars have been talking about the show’s history and giving interviews throughout the week. One of these interviews came from Pop Culture Died in 2009 and, among many other topics, Spencer let everyone in on some of the secret – or not so secret – ways those famous paparazzi shots actually get set up!
“We were making over a million dollars selling our paparazzi photos, so you start doing a lot of them and you’re like, ‘This is the best gig ever!”
Spencer went on to talk about how in Los Angeles and Hollywood you do, in fact, encounter real paparazzi situations, it’s part of the life there for a celebrity – in some situations, it’s simply unavoidable. He also spoke on the other side of the equation, however, the side that celebrities or their agents take part in that some people simply don’t believe actually happens. Talking about himself and Heidi – he said that they would avoid places that were hot zones for general paparazzi so they could contact their personal photographer, in turn, allowing them to make money.
“There’s obviously very clear stage-y ones, and James is from England. All the best sales at the time were in England, and in England they like ’em real cheesy – looking at the camera, smiling, doing ridiculous stuff”
Spencer states that in the US they were called “famewhores” but what they were doing wasn’t unheard of – that many other celebrities in Hollywood were doing the same thing, and still are.
That’s right, these paparazzi shots that you see in magazines, on entertainment news, and flooding social media are usually not only know about ahead of time but planned and staged down to the level of emotion the celebrities display.
In a piece written for Parade in 2014, Jennifer Buhl describes 5 things she learned working as a paparazzi and while all 5 are interesting, one stands out in a way that further solidifies what Spencer was talking about when he spoke out about the paparazzi himself.
“There are many ways to become more—or less—famous. To keep their place in the spotlight, celebs can dress really awesomely or really awfully; show up at beaches (especially in killer bathing suits) and the hottest hangout spots; date another big star (that equals lots more fame); and—this was a kicker to me—tip off the paparazzi. Yes, seriously, stars can call or text photographers and even get paid a percentage of the picture sales (and, yes, that happens a lot).”
So not only are the paparazzi called, celebs – or their team – make money off of the shots taken when that specific set up occurs, so you can see why the offer would be tempting, especially to look a certain way to ensure the right shot is achieved.
An article in Rolling Stone also talked about paparazzi and the difference between planned pap opportunities and those that are unplanned.
“There are many A-listers whose publicists will tip off the paps without telling their clients, there’s also stars who are in it for the cash. According to Rolling Stone, Lindsay Lohan has alerted photographers to her whereabouts in return for a “gratuity,” while Ryan Reynolds routinely finds himself ‘captured’ eating Chobani yogurt, carrying a Burger King bag, smiling at a Nespresso cafe and caressing a Can-Am motorcycle, all in apparently preplanned shots.”
While not every paparazzi photo you see of your favorite celebrity is a setup or an opportunity for their team (or themselves) to make a buck, more often than not, this is what happens – even if the stars aren’t saying it. From Heidi and Spencer, who have been vocal with their relationship with paparazzi to celebs who have a ‘pap’ on speed dial but wouldn’t admit it, and even the teams who call paparazzi on their clients without warning them first – it’s interesting to think that next time you see shots in the magazines, online, and on television; there’s probably more going on behind the scenes than you’re aware of.
Some may question why, when it seems like celebrities hate being in the spotlight constantly, they’d agree to paparazzi following them – even if only for a few shots. The short answer is, the reasons differ from person to person. Some celebs have done this for a “change” in the public eye, after a meltdown or a series of rough experiences in the media – they call the paparazzi to show a kinder, more “put together” version of themselves. Some do it to maintain a certain appearance to the general public, others put their friendships or romantic relationships on display because being seen with a certain person benefits the other, and vice-versa, sort of a mutual promo situation.
Sometimes, it’s just as Spencer described: celebs call the paps for a sponsorship or a buck, simply because they know they’ll be photographed anyway, so why not?
Does the news of Heidi and Spencer having their own paparazzi surprise you? Have you long been convinced this happens more regularly than some may want to admit? Tweet us at @CelebMix and let us know.