Celebritology Live: Debating Swayze's Privacy, Bai Ling

Liz Kelly
washingtonpost.com Celebritology Blogger
Thursday, April 16, 2009; 2:00 PM

Join Celebritology blogger Liz Kelly LIVE every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET to gab about the latest celebrity pairings (and splittings), rising stars (and falling ones), and get the scoop on the latest gossip making waves across the Web.

Celebritology Live Archive


Liz Kelly: Afternoon one and all -- welcome to my favorite hour of hte week. I'm running a bit late, so we'll just jump right in.


Drew and Justin redux: Genuine affection or genuine need to regain limelight?

Liz Kelly: I'm thinking they are dancing with the idea of getting back together. I doubt they would take the step of going to a premiere together if there wasn't something there.


No fan of Billy Ray but...: Hi Liz, I'm no fan of Billy Ray Cyrus or his daughter but I think he's dead right about Jamie Foxx's comments. Sure he apologized but for crying out loud...What's the matter with Jamie Foxx? He seems like a pretty smart dude. And maybe he proved that by apologizing quickly. If someone said that guano about my kid you better believe I'd have a difficult time forgiving.

Liz Kelly: I agree -- Jamie went a bit too far. Maybe Howard Stern, as he mentioned in his self-defense, could've gotten away with suggesting Miley make a sex tape. It would still have been in bad taste, but we expect bad taste from Stern. We don't give the same leeway to mainstream actors.


Los Angeles: My first reaction seeing the pictures of Patrick Swayze is that they are shocking and terrible and clearly a violation of privacy.

My second reaction was to be relieved that they are out there.

America is awful at dying and death, especially here in La La Land. We are firmly in denial, believing that everyone looks beautiful right up until the moment they die peacefully in their sleep. Death doesn't happen this way, and that totally sucks. But it's worse that we can't even acknowledge how it does happen. If these pictures get people to accept the dying process a little bit more, or even think about how to die gracefully, I think that is worth the intrusion on a celebrity's life.

washingtonpost.com: National Enquirer Patrick Swayze Pix: Invasion of Privacy?

Liz Kelly: I appreciate your point, but I'm not sure I agree.

Cancer is such a common disease that I think almost every adult knows someone who has fought and/or died from cancer. I can't speak for you out there in La La Land, but I'm not sure we need, or deserve, a reminder of the terrible toll cancer -- and its treatments -- can take on a body.

But granting that your point is valid, the fact remains that Swayze can't possibly have authorized the release of these pictures. As some said earlier this week, anyone who steps onto a public street is fair game for photogs, but to explain away the Enquirer's pictures by saying they help to hold up a mirror to our own mortality -- I don't think so.

I think we're in far more danger of losing all sense of where the ethical, decent line is for taking and publishing photos like this than we are of forgetting that cancer is a bad thing.


Invasion of Privacy?: WHAT?! How is publishing pictures of a celebrity in public, even if it is a sick Patrick Swayze, a clear invasion of privacy? He was out walking in a public place, just like all of the other celebrity photos that are published and then consumed by readers of Celebritology. I get that you sympathize with him because he was in "Ghost" and he's a nice guy, but how is this any different from any other celebrity photo?

I'll throw out the same thing we all hear when people try to defend Brit or Lilo - if he didn't want to have his picture taken by the paparazzi, he wouldn't have been in public to have his picture taken.

Look, I sympathize with the guy, and I think the whole paparazzi thing has gotten out of control, but I don't think you can distinguish these photos as being "clearly" different, and definitely not an invasion of privacy. And I don't think you even made an attempt to do so in your post.

Liz Kelly: Okay, here's one of those people I mentioned above.

I don't sympathize with Patrick Swayze because he's a nice guy and he was in "Ghost." I sympathize with him because he is a human being and because, despite what you think, there is a line. This isn't video of him drunk and eating a cheeseburger as his daughter watches (like David Hasselhoff) or frolicking on the beach with someone not his wife (like Mel Gibson). This is someone going through what is probably the worst moments of his life. Not only does he feel like hell, he's experiencing an incredible amount of mental anguish -- at the worst, the realization that he may not come back from the brink and at the very least, coming to grips with the fact that the skeleton in the mirror is in fact himself.

You say this is no different from any other celebrity photo.

Liz Kelly: Sorry -- trying to get a few shorter answers out there as I type this.

Sure, Swayze's on the street so that makes him fair game for the photogs and I persist in thinking they are sleazy for chasing around a dying man. But I blame the editors at the National Enquirer even more. They didn't have to run these photos. There are plenty of pictures taken that never make it to publication for reasons of decency -- that's why it took so long for a select set of photos from Abu Ghraib to make it into print and online.

I don't know that I can convince you, but let me put it this way -- and I'm making this example deliberately difficult: What if you take your four-year-old daughter, who is ravaged by cancer, into the front door of a hospital and -- while crossing the parking lot -- she is photographed? You are a respected member of a local governmental body or perhaps the local TV sports guy. A local newspaper splashes those photos of your sick daughter on their front page. You react how?

And don't let the fact that your daughter is a minor come into the argument -- you took her out in public, so shame on you.

I'd like to open this debate up to other views, too, so please jump in.


luvlinsey: LEAV LINSEY ALONE!!!!!!!! you guyz make fun of herr too much. justt u wait, she'z gonna win an oscar next yr!

Liz Kelly: Luv Linsey! So glad you've finally found the chat. Carm down!


NO: Must not give reality show to Michael Vick. Ever. Anyone who treated animals like he did does not deserve any public acclaim.

Liz Kelly: I dunno. Maybe he could team up with the Octomom (TM) and Hulk Hogan (who totally gets O.J.) for some kind of Real Whacked World show.


Simon smiles!: I must say that the Susan Boyle video made my week. She's spirited with a wonderful voice. Love it when these unassuming people finally get their moment in the sun. And her fabulous Scottish accent doesn't hurt. I imagine that someone will be hired to polish her look, but I hope they don't ruin her if she wins the competition.

washingtonpost.com: The Scot Heard Round the World

Liz Kelly: She certainly has taken the world by storm. Even Demi Moore said she cried upon viewing the clip. And you know how hard it is for a Botoxed face to cry.


All By Myself...: And today, Ohio's own Eric Carmen joins the illustrious club of celebrities jailed for drunk driving.

Liz Kelly: Yes, thank you -- I didn't include him in the Morning Mix because I wasn't sure the bulk of readers would be interested, but thanks for the mention here.


Wake Forest, N.C.: I think people are underestimating the star power of Adam Lambert. I am a fortysomething woman who has watched "AI" off and on for the past 8 years. Adam singing "Mad World" (I was a Tears for Fears fan) is the first time I have actively looked for a video of a song done by an AI contestant. I was that impressed.

washingtonpost.com: Video: Adam Lambert: "Mad World" (americanidol.com)

Liz Kelly: Not bad at all, but you realize that's kind of a ripoff of the cover version recorded by Gary Jules for the "Donnie Darko" soundtrack in 2002.


Can we do this chat outside today ?: What's the story with that supposed Marilyn Monore quote on Lilo's wrist ? I'm fairly certain it is not an actual MM quote and I am quite certain Monroe had way better real quotes anyway.

Liz Kelly: Oh, by all means -- let's go outside. After the rain we've had around here, we can all use a little vitamin D.

As for the quote: "Everyone's a star and deserves the right to twinkle."

It was actually


. Marilyn said this while she was in the midst of contract negotiations with MGM and really wanted her own private bathroom.


Woody Allen: I must say I am on his side on this one. Why do they need to bring up his past when American Apparel used his image without his permission, seems pretty cut and dry. Also, isn't it the guy who is the head of American Apparel who sexually harrasses his female employees?

Liz Kelly: Agreed on both counts. It's an odd position to take in a dispute over advertising.


methinks: Hi Liz, While I enjoyed your post about Bai Ling, I have to say I think she's still very kooky and whackdoodle.

But kudos to her publicist for giving you a shout out!

washingtonpost.com: Bai Ling, Crazy Cool

Liz Kelly: I'm so glad you brought up Bai. This gives me a chance to respond to some of the comments posted to the piece in yesterday's blog.

The last time I checked about 90 percent of those comments were pretty dismissive of the idea that Bai Ling could actually be a worthwhile person or that it was in any way possible that, in interviewing her, I could adjust my opinion on her.

Yes, she's somewhat quirky -- or kooky, if you will -- but no more so than some other people who we fully accept as being kooky -- Bjork or even Tracy Morgan (as Producer Paul pointed out). Why the hate for Bai?


Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Hugh Jackman appeared on some Spanish TV show -- is he bilingual ? Also noticed the ads for the DVD of "Australia" make a big deal out of Jackman being shirtless and ripped; wouldn't they have sold a lot more movie tickets if they had used that campaign in the first place ?

washingtonpost.com: Should this have been the poster?

Liz Kelly: I don't know if he's bilingual -- it didn't look to me as if he much understood what was being said. In fact, he looked downright appalled by the whole experience:

Jackman on El Hormiguero



Anonymous: Woody Allen wears pleated pants...

Liz Kelly: Well that changes everything. Dastard.


Anonymous: That new Star Trek movie looks to be totally mind blowing. Shatner must be rolling in his grave...oh wait.

Liz Kelly: I dunno. It looks like it might have some good special effects and the fabulous John Cho, who is one degree away from the White House, is playing Sulu... but I'm not usually a big fan of remakes.

I'd much rather be surprised with a new concept.


Swayze and Woody: On Swayze, I agree with you, Liz. While I'm not completely sure where the line is, this definitely crosses it.

On Woody Allen, it is TOTALLY relevant to his lawsuit -- he's asking for compensation for using his image, and so the value of his image (which would be based at least in part on his reputation) is central to the case.

washingtonpost.com: If only we had some lawyers...

Liz Kelly: Good point -- we probably have enough legal representation here to found our own Celebritology Legal Think Tankeroo and issue press releases each time a star gets near a law suit.


methinks: Not hatin' just sayin' she's kooky. You say quirky, I say kooky, potato-potahto. I did watch the "Dumplings" vid clip you posted and she handled her role admirably. I learned a bit about her from the post but if she wants to be taken seriously, she might want to get the little girls in her head all wearing the same dress and singing the same song.

Liz Kelly: Point taken.


They were dogs...: Give me a break! I'm so sick of the "jump on Michael Vick bandwagon" For pete's sake, THEY WERE DOGS!!!!! Not humans. I never see this much outrage for the way humans are mistreated in this country. This man has served his time, paid the price. Get over it!! Bernie Madoff completely ruined the financial futures of thousands, and I don't see the same outrage. Please....

washingtonpost.com: First of all, you've "never" seen this much outrage?

Second of all -- people chose to invest their money with Madoff, without properly determining his methods. I don't think the puppies chose to be electrocuted. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a pit bull owner.)

Liz Kelly: I'm sorry, have you sat in on one of these chats before? I'm guessing not, because if you had you'd know that dismissing animals as acceptable victims of torture wouldn't get you anywhere here, except jumped on by pretty much everyone (including at least 40 lawyers).


Wake Forest, N.C.: A rip off? What is the point of making that comment? All the songs are ripoffs if you want to make that distinction. For crying out loud - Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears wrote the original song and Gary Jules covered it with a slowed down version. Doesn't mean Adam ripped it off.

Liz Kelly: You carm down, too.

The original question seemed to be lauding Adam for his take on the song. I was merely pointing out that his take was derivative.


Orlando, Fla.: Why has the "Click Here to Update or Press F5" line gone away? It was missing from Gene's chat on Tuesday too - I'm here enough to know to press F5, but I usually click when I get to the end...

washingtonpost.com: Sorry about that. If you, um, refresh, it should be back at the bottom of the page now.

Liz Kelly: It was just Paul trying to thwart me. Yet again.

I'd be careful. Pressing F5 may pop up a nudie of ScarJo now, for all we know.


Herndon, Va.: Re. Bai Ling - just an observation here Liz, but it seems to me that you are becoming like E! news or Perez Hilton. You tend to snark, until you meet the celebs, then you become a "friend" of the celebs. For us? We haven't met the celebs, so we'll continue to think that Bai is a whackadoodle. It's kind of fun.

Liz Kelly: That's ridonculous. Sometimes seeing a person as a rounded human being changes one's perspective. I'm sure you've had that experience, whether it be with a celebrity or a co-worker or a neighbor. We tend to deride what we don't understand. I understand Bai a bit more now. I've always maintained that she was a little wacky. I think my piece telegraphed the fact that talking to her didn't change that impression. But I do understand her a bit more now and the fact that she knows what she's doing.

As Fergie would say, where is the love, people?


Bai what?: I gotta say I was shocked SHOCKED when you said she was 42. I know she dresses younger (and kookier), but I thought at the most she was 30, probably 28. Hats off to the lady because whatever she's doing to keep herself looking like that, it's working.

washingtonpost.com: Word

Liz Kelly: Interestingly, her publicist wrote to say she is not 42 and asked if I could remove that line. However, the research still stands -- every reference to here age has her listed as being born in October 1966, which would make her 42.

When I asked what her real age is, then, I was told I'd get a call today by way of explanation. I'm still waiting. So the 42 remains.


Arlington, Va.: Swayze and photos - the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights guarantees the right to privacy or protects citizens from being offended. What is guaranteed is the right of a free press (yes, paparazzi can hide themselves behind the First Amendment). Like it or not, National Enquirer, and all of their ilk, are protected. Tasteless, yes. Repugnant, yes. Protected, yes.

This is how you stop them - don't buy their publications. More importantly, don't click on these Web links. How many of us click on these links and then say things like how horrible it is that the press are chasing them! Stop feeding the beast.

Swayze also felt compelled to appear on Barbara Walters to refute the "Swayze is dead" stories, but like a previous poster said, he had a choice and went public. Now the story is public.

I think he's very courageous and it's awful about the pictures (that I haven't seen). But Hollywood has always thrived on "are they dead yet?" stories and will continue to do so as a long as there is a market.

Liz Kelly: Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a free press. I've spent my life aspiring to be a working cog in that press. And The Enquirer is included under the protections others have fought for -- but that doesn't make them any less ooky.


Also in La La: and should sooo be working right now but whatevs.

"Los Angeles: America is awful at dying and death, especially here in La La Land.

Liz: But granting that your point is valid, the fact remains that Swayze can't possibly have authorized the release of these pictures."

This is the crux of the issue. I agree that we are terrible at dealing with aging and dying here in this country. (Don't know if it's any better in others.) But this isn't Michael Landon going on Carson just weeks before he died (yes, I'm that old) saying he's going to fight to the end. It's some kind of morbid death watch and it's beyond unsavory. I tend to fall on the side of celebs deserve some modicum of privacy anyway but Swayze is not out blogging or doing a reality show on his illness so I think this is way, way, way over the line.

Totally off-topic and 30 minutes early but I've been waiting a week to tell you and Jen that I cannot get "New Moon on Monday" out of my head. Please feed me something else!

Liz Kelly: Well, Scandal's "The Warrior" has been stuck in my head all week. Maybe PP (Producer Paul) can find a link to this most horrid of '80s videos.

And thanks for your thoughts on Swayze.


Vegas bound: Liz, My husband and I are heading to Vegas this weekend. Any insight on what club we should try to get into to have the best chance of running into celebrities? Not real celebrities necessarily- Benji Madden or people from "The Hills" would be fine.

Liz Kelly: Well, I haven't been there to confirm this, but you hear a lot about celebs -- and by celebs I mean those of the K-Fed variety -- hanging out at Pure Nightclub.

Any other ideas?


About Woody: I'm with Woody on this. Sure the having an affair and then marrying your stepdaughter is ick worthy, but he's put out some pretty good product lately.

Liz Kelly: I.... won't go there. We've already got two debates boiling in today's show.


Washington, D.C.: Re: Patrick Swayze

The problem is, how many of you that are outraged went ahead and looked at the photos? N.E.'s job is to sell and if you look at the photos then are you a hypocrite...

Liz Kelly: As many pointed out in the blog earlier this week, and that argument works when you're talking about clicking on a link. But this Enquirer cover is visible in every supermarket checkout aisle in the country. It's a little hard to miss.


Washington DC: I'm having a rough couple of weeks, to put it lightly. Do you have any pictures of your pets you can post? They are always so cute. Thanks.

Liz Kelly: Yes! Thank you for reminding me. I think we can all use a little animal therapy right now.


Andy bathing


Opie chillaxing


Page (in the foreground) walking with her sister



Washington, DC: I'm not a lawyer, but as a photographer, I know a little about infringement. If someone uses one of my images without my permission I would send them an invoice for something like 2-5 times what I would have charged them to use the image had they contacted me ahead of time. The idea is to discourage the "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission," concept. There needs to be real pain inflicted when someone infringes, or else there is no reason not to just go ahead and do it anyway, and I believe the law as it stands backs this up.

So that is what I think Woody Allen is doing. Not that he thinks his image is actually worth what he's asking for, but that because they didn't get (and from what he's saying-wouldn't have gotten) his permission ahead of time, there needs to be punishment, and $$ is the only punishment available. I think American Apparel sort of has a point dredging up his past, but their lawyers are being pretty dumb not just settling. I worked for a photographer who won against a company that infringed his photograph and he bankrupted them. Had they tried to work something out, I'm sure they could have come to an agreement.

Liz Kelly: Thanks for writing in, photog. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Swayze debate, too.


New Yorker, N,Y.: How is the octomom (R) doing, and how much does The Post have to pay now for using the word "octomom"?

washingtonpost.com: Can we call her the OchoMom?

Liz Kelly: Or Eightball?


Towson: Hey Liz! Can you please post a shout-out for me for my brother's film premiere happening tomorrow in Towson?? It's an East Coast surf movie - more information is here: Joyride.

I know this is unrelated but would it help it get posted if I told you that Bai Ling is in the movie and Hugh Jackman runs, shirtless, on the beach?? Thanks!

Liz Kelly: Consider it done. I'll ignore the fact that I was left off the guest list.


Geesh! Rawr snarly Fssss: Between the inevitable "they're just DOGS!" (because I can't care about more than one issue at a time) and "How can you like Bai Ling now Liz, you SELLOUT!!!" I think we need to now get into a much more idiotic debate:

Did Bret (SPOILER) make the right choice with Taya over Mindy?


Liz Kelly: Thank you for bringing us back to reality, even if it is just reality television.


Nosy Parker: I've heard that cosmetic surgeons-to-the-stars in the LA area have private entrances for high-profile patients, so they can void the gamut of lurking paps by not being publicly seen entering/exiting. Might not Patrick Swayze's oncologist, or other specialists in the region, also have private entrances to their offices, should a celeb wish to avoid the lens?

Liz Kelly: Yep, absolutely. Or perhaps he could wear one of those Nixon masks he wore in "Point Break."


Sad: Flickr is blocked at work.

Liz Kelly: Ding dang. Okay. From now on maybe I'll pub the pix to our own servers.


First Amendment Day: By some weird coincidence, today is First Amendment Day. (The journalism students are having a First Amendment Day bake sale in my building.) I'm all for a free press, but just because you have the photos (of Swayze or whoever) doesn't mean you have to use them. Having the freedom doesn't always include having good judgement.

Liz Kelly: Amen.

So where is this bake sale?


You Must Love Me...: Madonna is coming home again ! It's a great day to be an American!

Liz Kelly: Righto. Between Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow vacating the U.K., the Brits must really be relieved.


Gaithersburg, Md.: I'm against torturing and killing dogs, but Michael Vicks served his time. He should be given another chance just like anyone else. You people make it seem like because he tortured and killed dogs - he's condemned for life. You place more value on a dog's life than human beings.

washingtonpost.com: Can't I be against both? Is this a zero-sum game? I'm not saying Vick shouldn't have a show but Charles Manson should. Geesh.

Liz Kelly: Well said Paul.

I don't think you can put a formula on this. And begrudging Michael Vick a reality show is hardly placing animals' lives head of humans. It is begrudging someone who has proven himself to be morally ambiguous a spotlight. If he wants to change, I suggest he do it on his own time. Then we can talk.


Kal Penn?: Any word on how he's settling into Washington life and his new job? Have you and Mr. Liz invited him over for a drink? I'll bet he likes dogs.

Liz Kelly: Haven't heard much, though we do know he was on hand at Monday's White House Easter Egg Roll -- looking quite D.C. in a suit and a laminate hanging round his neck.


ATL: Were you shocked or gratified or both that Phil Spector was finally found guilty?

Liz Kelly: Hmm, neither. I felt that justice was served and moved on to the next story which was probably idiotic Hulk Hogan saying he understood how O.J. could have killed Nicole Brown.


washingtonpost.com: " Warrior " by Scandal

Liz Kelly: AHhh, here we are...


Bad Choice Brett: Taya was clearly on the show for her own self promotion. She mentioned countless times how she was missing an important shoot for the show and seemed to talk about her career nonstop. Mindy seemed way more sincere.

Liz Kelly: I'm sure self-promotion was far from Mindy's mind.


Re: Patrick Swayze: so why did you link the pictures in your blog then? if there was so much outrage, no need to show the pictures so people can see it unless you are trying to generate traffic...

Liz Kelly: Right. I thought about it and it just didn't feel right to be talking about the photos without giving people the option of deciding whether or not to view them. Also, as I mentioned above, at that point the pictures were viewable in every supermarket in the country. So it wasn't as if I was breaking news.


Photog in Washington, DC: I was avoiding the Swayze debate, Liz. In general I have very little respect for paparazzi (and kind of chuckled at the story of Lilo egging them), but restricting freedom of the press in any way also give me the heebie jeebies. Consider me firmly on the fence.

Liz Kelly: Probably a good place for you -- and many people in the press to be. One has to take the good with the bad, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. Well said.


He should be given another chance just like anyone else. : Does not equal he should be given a TV show. What he ought to do is fade into the background for a few years - do some community work, etc, and avoid the limelight. Hey, it worked for Britney.

Liz Kelly: Wait -- britney did community work?


LiLo Got the Quote Wrong: Oops. The last thing I sent did not have the complete quote. Here it is, along with Wiki Answers explanation:

"Unfortunately, I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle."

From ThinkExist.com and Brainyquotes.com

From WikiAnswers:

Marilyn Monroes historical importance fell into many catagories. She was the women that broke the strict view of American Puritanism. Not only was she just this gazed at sex symbol, she had very strong views on civil rights. Her films started to to follow this trend. In 1954 her movie came out The Seven Year Itch and it was the year that the Supreme Court decided in the Brown v. Board of Education and brouth the end to racially segregated education. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the back of the bus; that was the year that Monroe told 20th Century Fox that she was no longer going to play the role of the stereotyped "dumb blond". In one of her interviews she said "I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the remaining minority rights of the few earthbound stars."

Liz Kelly: Hmmmm, okay. Thank you.


Reston, Va.: Your favorite hour of the week? What does that make the 'Lost' Hour? :-)

Liz Kelly: My other favorite hour?

See you all back here next week. Thanks for today's discussion. This was good stuff.


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