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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Global Efforts and Tarkan

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

A frustrated Tarkan indicating to chasing paparazziPaparazzi have been a necessary evil in the lives of the rich and famous for many years. But now, due to their swelling numbers and increasingly aggressively tactics, the stars are fighting back on a global effort to stop the worrying trend of doing whatever it takes to catch a celebrity's image.

With 400 full-time 'paps' in Los Angeles alone, and dozens more in every major city in the western world, the stars have had enough. In the past month, George Clooney has called for paparazzi to curb their lawless ways, Nicole Kidman has given evidence in court against a snapper, and Orlando Bloom has said he's lucky to be alive after he crashed his car while being pursued by photographers. Internationally-known Turkish pop star Tarkan has also in a high speed car chase with domestic paps in March this year.

After years of paparazzi intrusion into his private life, Clooney has taken a stand after he and his girlfriend were nearly knocked off his motorbike in Los Angeles during a high-speed chase with photographers. The actor laid into their "bounty hunter" tactics and said snappers endangered the lives of celebrities and the public. "It's not about shooting pictures," the Oceans 11 star said, still fuming from the chase. "It's about the risks they're taking and driving with reckless abandon.

"What they're doing is illegal – high-speed chases and they're competing with each other," he continued. "They're not trying to catch me doing something stupid; they're trying to create me doing something stupid. Take your pictures but don't go 60 miles per hour down a one-way street. Don't cause injury to people who aren't involved."

At least some of the blame must be pointed at gossip magazines that are willing to pay enormous sums for candid pictures of the big stars – some titles think nothing of spending six figures on paparazzi shots, week in, week out. A new breed of photographer is being hired more for their ability to navigate high-speed celebrity chases and their willingness to get the shot, irrespective of the situation and how dangerous it might be to pursue. That means speeding through red lights, blocking rivals' cars, and even travelling in packs to intimidate other snappers.

The Stars v The Snappers

George Clooney also defended Britney Spears, who is followed by up to 100 photographers as she goes about her life in Beverly Hills each day. "You look at the footage of Britney – there are eight guys with cameras at night in the middle of the street," Clooney said. "There are no rules now. It's getting to a point where people that are not involved are getting hurt. You don't get to break all these laws and then say, 'I'm just doing my job'."

Nicole Kidman has also taken a stand against paparazzi in recent days, giving evidence in a Sydney court against photographer Jamie Fawcett who she says left her fearing for her life after he chased her "aggressively" as she drove to her parents' house in 2005. The actress told the court that his pursuit had her "in tears and distressed" and added that she now employs people "24 hours to protect myself because I don't feel equipped to handle things."

Then there's Orlando Bloom, who claims he could have died in the October car crash that took place as he was pursued by four photographers after leaving an LA nightclub with two women. Bloom hit a parked car, leaving both of his passengers requiring hospital treatment; one with a fractured neck. He has now called for a crackdown on the aggressive tactics paparazzi use to get a shot of a star.

Tarkan was more lucky, when a tense chase between the celebrity press and Tarkan's security ensued in Turkey, after the paparazzi had caught sight of the singer sticking his head out of his vehicle's sunroof while driving to a popular holiday resort in Antalya for a photograph shoot.

Some fans wonder whether it's fair that Tarkan is harassed by dozens of photographers every day, only to be publicly derided when he loses his cool to escape the baying mob. Especially when the constant paparazzi attention is something he doesn't court as some celebrities do – after all, Tarkan generally makes a point to shun the trendy bars and restaurants in Istanbul and is therefore able to live without a constant paparazzi presence.

20th World Aids Day

Gökhan Özen has taken a series of photographs specially designed for World Aids Day, by Lara SayılganEvents are being held to mark the 20th World Aids Day today, many highlighting the need to fight continued prejudices against people with HIV-Aids.

Even though Tarkan is continuing to hide out on a day that could have garnered him much needed points in public relations, another Turkish pop idol has been campaigning for more awareness and the usage of condoms in Turkey. Young popster Gökhan Özen has taken a series of photographs specially designed for World Aids Day by female photographer of the stars, Lara Sayılgan, and published them at his official website.

Campaigners have warned that progress in treating and slowing the disease is breeding complacency about the risks. Özen has been fronting seminars at Universities across Turkey today highlighting that the young should get to "learn about HIV before it learns about you". In contrast, contacts at Tarkan's camp has said that no such efforts had been made to celebrate global efforts to combat the disease today.

Mark Mayhey had recently written a 3-part series on Tarkan for Tarkan Deluxe on his struggle with his public image.

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