The Lohan Industry

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This Times story on the reciprocal gossip rag business was a good Sunday read, mostly because of nuggets like this


A self-described "celebrity privacy rights" advocacy group, Stoparazzi, wants more assertive laws. In interviews with ABC's "Nightline" and others, the group's president, Terry Ahern, has denounced public employees who leak private information. 

During an interview with The Times, Mr. Ahern criticized Web sites that offer money for story tips. "Every one of these Web sites says 'Cash for information,' " he said. "You're enticing people to steal." 

Yet a phone number listed on Stoparazzi's Web site was the same number listed on Hollywoodtip.com, which declares: "We pay CA$H for Valid, Accurate, Usable Tips on Celebrities." California state records show that the company that owns Hollywoodtip, P.S.S. Inc., is owned by Mr. Ahern. 

Several people familiar with Mr. Ahern's operation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he sold photos and information about celebrities to major distribution agencies under several names. They said they believed he created Stoparazzi to gain the confidence of marketable stars. 

One of those people shared financial records detailing tens of thousands of dollars paid to P.S.S. for tips on celebrities. Mr. Ahern denied selling celebrity information and said the tips Web site was started by a partner he would not name. "The site is up, but it is never used," he said in an interview. "I forgot we even had it." (The site went dead after the interview.) 

He said he did have a photography business, Gorgeous Shots, which works with celebrities to ensure "every shot is gorgeous." Those raising questions about him, he said, were rankled by Stoparazzi's mission because "they don't like people trying to fight for celebrities' rights to privacy."

The story largely focuses on Michael Lohan's burgeoning brokering business in which he solicits cash for himself, or others, from the press in return for interviews, embarrassing voicemails or other info. It's a good, slightly disturbing, piece.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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