Halle Berry to testify on paparazzi limits

Halle Berry, right, and Olivier Martinez pose for the cameras before a screening of the film "Things We Lost in the Fire" during the Champs-Elysees Film Festival on June 13.
(Francois Mori / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- The Capitol will get a touch of star power on Tuesday morning when actress Halle Berry testifies in favor of legislation that would limit paparazzi’s ability to photograph the children of celebrities.

The bill, SB 606, would modify the definition of harassment -- meaning activity that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” a person -- to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian.

The legislation specifically mentions photography that involves “following the child’s activities or lying in wait” and targeting a child because of a parent’s line of work.

Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the bill’s author, also wants to protect the children of public officials, including judges and law enforcement, from harassment, said spokesman Greg Hayes.

A first conviction could land offenders in jail for between 10 days and a year.
Berry, who won an Academy Award for her role in “Monster’s Ball” and has been a mainstay of the X-Men series, has clashed with the paparazzi before.


In April, she shouted and cursed at photographers who swarmed her, her fiancee and her young daughter at Los Angeles International Airport.

“Get away from the child, Jesus, what ... is wrong with you people ... that’s a child here,” Berry said.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America opposes the legislation, saying it infringes upon free speech protections. Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., said there are already enough laws preventing harassment and he fears the measure could criminalize legitimate news gathering.

“It’s what journalists do,” he said. “They take pictures.”


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Twitter: @chrismegerian