The Paparazzi Reach Their Zenith Capturing Michael Jackson’s Death
All professions have their zenith, a time when those in it know they’ve made it, that point when all their hard work pays off and they reap their rewards. In business it might be the successful sale of a business. In politics, it might be getting elected to a national office. If an actor, it might be an Oscar win. If a paparazzo, it most probably would be selling the final photo ever taken of Michael Jackson for half a million dollars…reportedly what occurred this week.
When I heard, like everyone else, that Michael Jackson had died, I could only think of the loss to his family, his music I enjoyed and how unfortunate it was that he was gone.
And then I heard through the news that the first to report his demise was a paparazzo.Of course, he always had paparazzi at his house or following him around…for this exact purpose: to capture his demise. It is what all paparazzi ultimately hope for, that they might be in the right spot to capture the last photo of some star alive. It is the big payoff. To capture a shot of Michael Jackson at his death – oh, what would it be worth!?Well, we know now if the reports are correct: $500,000.
Most people, I’ve found, don’t really know about or understand the paparazzi industry.They definitely enjoy paparazzi photos splashed across magazines at the checkout counter but they don’t connect that it was a paparazzo who captured that photo of their favorite celebrity out shopping. What almost no one understands is that ultimately what the paparazzi hope for is their big payday. That day when they capture a photo of the famous person dead, injured, arrested, breaking their marriage vows, ugly or fat. It came when Lindsay crashed her car, when Britney shaved her head and when Michael went into cardiac arrest.
It reminds me of the night earlier this year when I pretended to be a paparazzo and stood with a group of them outside a party in Hollywood. We all waited hours for Eva Longoria Parker to emerge from a building and walk 20 feet to her car. In the wee hours of the morning, the moment finally came and, surrounded by a mob of body guards and assistants, she made the crowded trip to her vehicle. After she drove away and the crowds were dispersing, one veteran paparazzo walked over to me and displayed on the back of his camera a perfect photo of her he had captured. As he showed it to me, in all sincerity said: “God forbid this is the last photo taken of her alive.” I stood repulsed by his words and his hope for the actress’ demise – he stood hoping for the zenith of his profession.