Monday, May 19, 2014

Jennifer Buhl's "Shooting Stars"

Jennifer Buhl was a top-earning paparazza in Los Angeles for three years where she photographed hundreds of A-list celebrities. Her work appeared frequently in People magazine, TMZ, The Guardian, E! News and many others. A former field producer at CNN, she currently resides in Boulder, Colorado, where she runs a successful family photography business.

Here she shares some ideas about an adaptation of her new memoir, Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood's Most Famous:
It’s 2014. Movies—what are those? Television is where it’s at this decade, and HBO’s Shooting Stars is (errr, could be) poised to be the next big thing. The hip new TV show would be adapted from Shooting Stars, the book, in a similar way that Sex in the City was taken from Candice Bushnell’s stories. It is about characters—the main ones being paparazzi—and their pursuit of celebrities and the shot. As characters develop, the show delves into the paparazzi’s personal lives behind the camera, which sometimes overlap into celebrities’ lives. Shooting Stars models Entourage, a show about movie stars’ lives behind the camera and like Entourage, for “movie stars appearances” uses pretend movie stars, D-listers, reality show stars, and the occasional celebrity cameo.

Shooting Stars’ main character, la paparazza Jennifer Buhl, is played by Hollywood’s newest tough girl, Jennifer Lawrence. (Kristen Stewart, equally badass, is second choice.) The other significant characters—Lawrence’s best “pap” friends—are played by British actors with strong regional accents, attractive but rough around the edges. The pap boss is played by Bill Nighy, the hilarious and often inappropriate Englishman. Shooting Stars is not a reality show; rather it is “scripted based on real life,” similar to Doug Ellin’s adaptation of Mark Wahlberg’s life into Entourage, and I’m sure Ellin could do another brilliant job with the recreation of Jennifer Buhl’s life in Shooting Stars.

With two dozen celebrity anecdotes and detailed interactions to set the stage for the first couple of seasons (double that if you include scenes which never made the book), screenwriters have plenty to roll with. However, when written for screen, there is no need to use the same celebrities or even the same scenarios. Like the Sex in the City adaptation, Shooting Stars gives Hollywood writers momentum: it explains in detail how the business works and who the players are, and endless scenes and storylines are possible within that structure. The pursuit of celebrities, making money, and (with one celebrity obsessed character) star-spotting are the initial goals of the characters, but transform as the characters gain depth. For example, Jennifer Lawrence develops a romantic relationship with one of her colleagues, as well as a movie star (played by himself, Adrian Grenier of Entourage, Buhl’s real life celebrity crush.)

The pilot: It starts with Lawrence and another pap she “fancies” [British: likes], Aaron, “doorstepping” [staking out] Cameron Diaz by waiting outside her house (“door”) for her to leave. Throughout the morning, their “Nextels” [walkie-talkies] “chirp” on an off with colleagues checking in, each on his or her doorstep or “trolling” the city attempting to “pick off” celebs in cars or on the street. There are 3-4 subplots within every episode. At Cameron’s house, Lawrence and Aaron eventually get bored, leave and go trolling. As luck would have it, they end up spotting Cameron’s Prius at her West Hollywood gym and shoot her happy, smiling face exiting while “giving it up.” Then they follow her to an underground parking lot in Beverly Hills where Lawrence follows Cam into the elevator. Which is not OK. (Lawrence is a novice pap at this point. She has no idea of pap protocol. Cam on the other hand is not a novice celebrity and she knows that getting in elevators with celebrities is definitely not protocol.) An awkward scene ensues inside the elevator culminating with Cameron scolding Lawrence, getting off, then waiting for Lawrence to do the same. A humiliated Lawrence eventually runs back to her car. Meanwhile, the other paps are “working” other celebs in the city: sneaking on movie sets, traipsing down Malibu beaches looking for bikini clad celebs, and getting in losing battles with the LAPD. Or they’ve given up for the day and are already at Figaro, “the local”, where everyone meets up for beers at end of the day.
Visit Jennifer Buhl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue