Tue Feb 11, 2003 | Updated at 03:52 PM
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Feb. 11, 2003. 05:58 AM
Some 200 media members capture Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas outside London's high court, where they testified Hello! magazine violated their privacy.
Movie couple face a media circus
Sneaky photos irk Zeta-Jones, hubby


London—At the centre of a media circus, Catherine Zeta-Jones testified yesterday that a sneaky photographer spoiled the afterglow of her wedding to Michael Douglas and violated her privacy with blurry, unflattering images.

"The quality was what every bride would hate to have out there. It was cheap and tacky and everything I didn't want," Zeta-Jones testified in the couple's lawsuit against Hello! magazine.

Zeta-Jones, 33, and Douglas, 58, had signed an exclusive $2.5 million deal with OK! magazine for pictures of their November, 2000, wedding in New York.

But rival Hello! hit the streets three days earlier than OK! with its "exclusive" photographs of the lavish wedding at The Plaza hotel.

In a case that could decide whether English law recognizes a right to privacy, the stars are suing Hello! for £500,000 ($1.2 million) for loss of income, stress and damage to their careers. They claim Hello!'s proprietor, Eduardo Sanchez Junco, plotted with paparazzi to infiltrate the reception.

As the court prepared for the Hollywood power couple, an open-top bus plastered with a logo from The Sun tabloid cruised surrounding streets, horns blaring, while young women on top displayed placards reading: "Hello My Sun, the media circus is in town."

Zeta-Jones was cool and poised during 90 minutes of testimony, heavily and visibly pregnant with the couple's second child and clad in a black pantsuit with a loose black sleeveless blouse beneath.

With understated jewelry sparkling from her ears, neck and fingers, she said of her wedding day, "There are so many different things that I wanted to keep secret."

The magazine is arguing the couple forfeited any right to privacy by actively seeking publicity for the event through OK!

lawyer James Price noted the couple allowed the OK! photos to be syndicated to 20 other magazines.

When Douglas took the stand, he testified that the couple knew a celebrity wedding would attract intense interest and that he and his bride-to-be had a responsibility to protect themselves and their 350 guests.

"The best way to solve this was to make a deal with one publication," he said. "We thought this would ... eliminate the paparazzi frenzy ..."

Douglas might as well have been describing his arrival at the court. One reporter counted eight television and radio trucks outside the High Court and some 200 reporters, camera crews and photographers awaiting the couple. Inside the court, more reporters waited, though admission was by ticket only.

Price said that if Douglas and Zeta-Jones had wanted to deter the paparazzi they should have kept the press out altogether or distributed selected pictures to the entire media.

With Files from Reuters

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