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DON'T SHOOT!

HOW THE 'PAPARAZZI' PLAY GOTCHA WITH BIG CELEBS

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November 8, 2006 -- THEY travel to exotic locales to photograph the most fa mous celebrities in the world. They stay at the finest hotels - and only "in season" mind you - carrying thousands of dollars in the latest and greatest camera equipment.

No, I'm not talking about the royalty celebrity photographers like Annie Liebowitz and Bruce Weber. I'm talking about their black-sheep, backdoor cousins, the paparazzi.

BBC America's new documentary series, "Paparazzi," focuses on Big Pictures, the photo agency owned by Darryn Lyons, a big Aussie bear-of-a-guy with a giant multi-colored hair extensions that combine in a tragic mess of mullet-meets-Mohawk.

The series takes us inside the high-wire lives of "paps," who will go any distance, take any chance and get right up in anyone's face to get the million-dollar shot.

Think "People," which paid $4.1 million for the first pictures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's baby, Shiloh.

Lunatic multi-millionaire Darryn rides his shooters hard and refuses to accept defeat. Like a big game hunter, he won't rest until his guys bring home the hides.

In this case, the game they are stalking are celebs - the bigger the celebs the bigger the price tag.

While stalking Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas in Barbados, for example, the Big Pictures guys were hoping for a hot shot of Zeta-Jones in a bikini with her much older hubby walking the beach.

When that failed, they followed a tip that the couple would be dining at a certain restaurant. Big deal, a couple coming out of a restaurant for dinner - right? Wrong.

Turns out that Douglas had giant wounds in front of his ears and oozing sores. No, he didn't cut himself shaving - he was caught recovering from a facelift, according to Darryn.

Question: Why in hell, would a big star married to a looker who is stalked by paparazzi, go out to dinner before his facelift stopped oozing?

I mean, how hungry could he have been?

We learn how they get their tips (celeb's own families are often on the take) and the chances they take.

Even though some of the celebs in the show are strictly British or Australian and totally unfamiliar on this side of the pond, watching the stealth, sneakiness and awful intrusions of their personal space by these shooters is absolutely riveting.

"Paparazzi" Tonight at 9 on BBC America



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