Paparazzi Pandemonium

For the photographers who recently swarmed over Miami Beach, J.Lo isn't a celebrity, she's a meal ticket

Not everyone at the Waverly, home to its own share of self-styled divas, was quite as enthusiastic as Greeff. Several residents who poked their heads inside their gym that evening were curtly informed that a "private party" was in session and loudly told to leave by Lopez's bodyguards. One resident says he came face to face with a large gentleman clad in a Miami Beach Police Department shirt -- who jumped up off an overhead shoulder-press machine to physically escort him out the door.

As word spread, the next evening saw several Waverly gym regulars (who have been known to include -- when his editor unchains him from his desk -- a huffing, puffing, Stairmastering Kulchur) wage a flanking maneuver. When Lopez arrived with a flock of gal pals in tow, this defiant group staged an act of fashionista civil disobedience and refused to dismount their treadmills. Lopez quickly turned tail, in a manner of speaking. She hasn't returned since.

Detective Hernandez says he is investigating this claim of an illegally moonlighting Beach police officer, though he voices his own suspicions: "Some of her security people may think they're police officers."

With teams of photographers stalking J.Lo, the picture price has dropped, but it's still lucrative enough to draw a crowd
With teams of photographers stalking J.Lo, the picture price has dropped, but it's still lucrative enough to draw a crowd

Fortunately security cameras inside the Waverly's gym captured footage of Lopez's entire workout there. (Note to Lopez bodyguards: According to several people who've watched the digital recording, next time you're trying to block Lopez's sweaty, ahem, assets from prying eyes, remember to drape a towel over both of the gym's cameras.)

As for Lopez, her representative at the New York-based Dan Klores Associates publicity firm denies both the use of police personnel and any display of fake police identification. It's still unclear why someone willing to spend $160,000 on her wedding flowers alone would need to requisition a condo's private gym for her fitness regimen. But Lopez's rep is more upset by Kulchur's terminology in describing her Waverly workout: "You need to stop using the word entourage! Jennifer Lopez does not have an entourage! She just has a lot of friends. "

"Jennifer Lopez is still money in the bank," says the head of one large photo agency, "but because so many people are involved now, the checks you're depositing are getting smaller. If you have three or four teams competing with each other [for photos], it's not only harder to get an exclusive, it's harder to get a good price."

Case in point: the 2001 photos of Lopez and then-paramour Chris Judd (for those keeping score, that's post-Puffy and pre-Affleck), snapped while the two floated blissfully in the Delano Hotel's pool. The agency head says he was able to broker a $50,000 sale for those pictures. Last month, however, as newspapers clamored for images to run with their J.Lo wedding-bell-blues headlines, pictures of a bikini-clad Lopez frolicking in the ocean off Miami Beach fetched only $4500. Not that the demand for such pics has lessened since 2001 -- five different British tabloids ponied up that purchase fee.

Yet flip open your copy of that week's Star and you'll see virtually identical photos under a banner that screams, "Exclusive." Page through competitors Us Weekly, People, and In Touch Weekly and again you'll spy some of the same supposedly "exclusive" photos.

"They were double-dealing," the agency head snipes of the paparazzi in question, two men shooting for the Los Angeles-based X17 agency, and reportedly violating their contract with the Star. "When you break your word, it knocks the whole business. Your bargaining strength disappears."

If true, the only folks more upset than Star's Bonnie Fuller was a Miami-based team of photographers also on hand as Lopez took a dip in the ocean. Though this trio were able to sell their own similar pictures overseas, their lead photographer feels "if we had all worked together, we could've made so much more money." Instead, he says, the X17 boys saturated the market by hawking their shots to every interested publication. "Those pictures would've been worth $100,000. But people get greedy and they shoot themselves in the foot. "

The X17 agency head dismisses such accusations as nothing more than sour grapes from his competitors, but he agrees that with so many shutterbugs trailing Lopez, it's impossible to get a good price for anyone's shots. For him, the key is to stay one step ahead of the pack -- as when his agency had the first photos of Hollywood's current hookup du jour, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, hand-in-hand in Beverly Hills. "Nobody believed they were really a couple until they saw those pictures. Then they had to come to us and pay our price" -- nearly $50,000, he says --"instead of the other way around."

Of course there's always next time. And given Lopez's annual ritual of celebrity uncoupling, future lucrative opportunities seem assured. In August 2002, for example, pictures of a fully clothed Lopez and Affleck garnered $75,000 from People, simply because the two were captured reading a copy of Us Weekly with themselves on the cover. A People spokeswoman argued that the excessive price was warranted, telling the New York Post they came as part of a set, and "we're not responsible for the way these photo packages are put together." But to most observers, People seemed desperate to keep the photos from archrival Us Weekly, which would no doubt have used them for self-promotion.

"J.Lo shouldn't do movies anymore," the bikini-ogling Miami photographer adds. "She'll get the same amount of publicity from just letting us photograph her. People would much rather look at a picture of her walking on the beach than sit through two hours of Maid in Manhattan or Gigli. "

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