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Choking Photographers -- The New Hollywood Hug

6/30/2006 4:04 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Woody HarrelsonHollywood is a tough town.  Just ask TMZ cameraman Josh Levine, who was choked late Thursday night by Woody Harrelson.

Levine was shooting video of someone who did not want to be videotaped.  Should Levine have turned his camera off?  Here's the deal.  The club is a Hollywood hot spot, and any celeb who goes there knows the game going in and out.  It's kind of like the famous Ivy restaurant on Robertson in L.A. -- it's all part of the meal.  Element is like night Ivy.

Should Levine have told Harrelson he was shooting him because he was sexy?  Well... we report, you decide.  The one thing I can tell you as a veteran TV reporter and lawyer, when people start touching my camera, it's a whole different Oprah.  Taking pictures in public places is one thing; assaulting someone is something else. Destroying someone's property and choking him is a crime, unless it's done in self-defense. 

It sure didn't look like self-defense to me.

So what will happen now?  If you judge the LAPD by the reaction from the two patrol officers who blew off Levine, the answer is nothing.  I'm hoping they're not representative of the department -- we'll see. 

2 COMMENTS

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1.

Withilca    

Levine provoked the incident. Woody asked him toplease leave him alone. Even tried sympathizing with him" Come on man give me a break" And the little bitch continued to harrass him.

Instead of intruding on people's privacy, why doesn't TMZ.com fix their messed up website so the words don't over lap . TMZ is a joke.

2983 days ago
2.

Mandy    

I agree that there never should have been violence involved, and there wouldn't been,but its idiots like Levine who need to BACK the hell off when they see a line has clearly been drawn. As a respectful "citizen" Levine should have stopped immediately, and walked his happy ass down the street.
You're Messin around with the big dogs and you're gonna get bit. What else is there to say. DUH!

2983 days ago
3.

Harry Minetree    

Come on! It's the old-time Weegee set up. One papparotgut goads and aggravates America's favorite activist actor while a second papparotgut captures the action on tape. Too bad the Woodman didn't have a hemp noose handy!

2982 days ago
4.

beth    

okay i understand that people trying to take photos of you with no respect to you at all would be really irratating but when you are a celebrity thats what happens and you sorta have to take the good with the bad and if you cant do that then you need to get out of the business or stay low key and stop going to these clubs and restuarants where you know they are going to be looking for you. they are just doing their job and yeah they can get ruthless at times but they are just trying to bet the competition.

Plus I am really tired of celebrities doing this stuff and geting away with it. if that were you or I we would be in jail right now. so if they want to be treated like everyone else then lets start treating them like everyone else and punish them when they doing something like beat the crap out of someone.

2982 days ago
5.

Jill    

Any lawyer viewing that taped video would see Woody Harrelson was intimidated , harrassed and sexually abused (calling him sexy and was definitely egged on as Woody calmly asked the photographer many times to stop bothering him!

As a retired Florida school teacher I fear this is why there is so much viloence in our world! Bullies ( like this photographer) are allowed to harrass people, make news , clog our courts and get by with it!

Woody, his wife and children are friends of my daughter. They helped her when she became seriously ill while living in Los Angeles. You don't ever hear the good things about celebrities. It is aways the trash that sells junk newpapers or now junk internet!
With all the major crime and corruption in the U.S., I wish you would spend you time, energy and zillions of dollars catching serious crime elements flooding into this country before it is too late.

Harrass, intimidate, threatened , incite anger, and abuse the felons, and known criminals in the U.S. before we get taken over.

PLEASE LEAVE WOODY HARRELSON ALONE. GET THIS JUNK OFF THE INTERNET AND QUIT USING TAXPAYERS MONEY FOR SUCH FRIVOLOUS STUFF. GET IN THE REAL WORLD AND FIGHT MAJOR CRIME.

YOU ARE WELCOME TO COME TO MY SMALL HOMETOWN OF LIVE OAK FLORIDA IN NORTH FLORIDA IF YOU WANT TO GET SOME GOOD STORIES ON CRIME, CORUPTION, SEX, PORNOGRAPHERS, CHILD, DOMESTIC AND ELDERLY ABUSERS: DRUG KINPINS, POLITICAL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION, DRUG ABUSERS,AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, CON ARTISTS, PSYCHOPATHIC CAREGIVERS. YOU COULD GET ENOUGH STORIES FOR A YEAR WITHIN A 20 MILE RADIUS.

PLEASE MAKE A GOOD DIFFERENCE AND QUIT INCITING PEOPLE TO BECOME ANGRY. THERE ARE MORE MAJOR LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS TO GET ANGY ABOUT IN THE US.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED

2982 days ago
6.

John    

People - When you voluntarily visit a website (TMZ) for entertainment, it seems a bit hypocritical to then denounce the people that run the website as scumbags.

2982 days ago
7.

Jill    

THIS IS NOT ENTERTAINMENT BY ANY MEANS AND I DID NOT VOLUNTARILY COME TO THIS WEBSITE! I AM AGAIN STANDING UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT IN THIS COUNTRY! SETTING UP A CELEBRITY OR ANYONE IS A CRIME!
STOP BULLIES AND STOP PEOPLE WHO SEE LAWSUITS AS A WAY TO MAKE MONEY. THIS IS A SCARY TREND IN THE U.S.

2982 days ago
8.

JayMee    

In response to Woody H's choking a photographer I say...

Good! I wish some one would choke the crap out of those parasites!

Further since when did being a celebrity rob you of your constitutional rights?

FYI there really ARE good and professional, courteous photographers.

International paparazzi should have to pass security clearances and ratify standadrds of practice that do not infringe on rights of American Citizenry. Especially our celbrities which really are public servants.

I really liked the idea a couple celebrities have had to have their OWN cams to record these losers who can't get a real job.

They have no talents of their own except being jerks and weasles, so perhaps by annoying celebrities they can fullfill their jealous, parasitical, stalker instincts.

Too bad common decency has been taking such a bad beating. I wish a plague on those that deserve it.

2982 days ago
9.

Jill    

Celebrities deserve to have their right to privacy . Why do they have to live in a fishbowl?

2982 days ago
10.

Ryan    

All I wanted to do was check what time a movie was playing in my neighborhood at moviefone.com, I get blurb that says “Woody Harleson attacks cameraman.” I watched both of the videos as well as this “hard hitting” editorial by Harvey Levin and it really symbolizes all that is wrong with the lowest common denominator in pop culture.

Cameraman (Josh Levine), TMZ, and AOL are the instigators here – Woody Harleson and the rest of sane America are the victims. Josh Levine’s attitude and behavior are despicable as is this website for so disingenuously trying to represent the opinions and interests of the American public.

I wish Harvey Levin could just go back to making his other great contribution to culture, the show “Celebrity Justice,” now that had some true relevance and importance. Hah!

If Josh Levine and Harvey Levin are making a living pilfering this crap on us, then somedays I think the terrorists are winning.

2982 days ago
11.

Annie    

What happened to photogs being professional? They are a bunch of vultures. I wonder how they sleep at night...

2982 days ago
12.

Irving Schwartz    

These celebs that don't want theur picture taken should carry these little squirt guns filled with black paint and let them have fun squirting the photogs as they leave the bar; would be a fun way to burn off those extra calories AND get some cardio in chasing those jerks down the street....Latex paint only or there would be lawsuits for laundry bills and that would only make more money for those Goldstein and Horowitz attorneys.

2981 days ago
13.

AncientOne    

Violence is violence, I hate to say. While it's true the photographer could have used some personal judgement on at least backing off, physical violence should NEVER be used but only as a last resort. I'm not against Woody calling this guy all kinds of bad names and stuff but he crossed the line when he physically attacked this young man. I've seen and heard both sides of the popparrazzi stories (Did I spell that right?) but nothing can condone the kind of physical attack that Mr. Harrelson inflicted on this person. This is where lawsuits come in very handy and hurray for cameras that catch the awful side of truth sometimes.
I know we're all human and want to be left alone but you can't have your cake and eat it, too. When you decide "Hey, I want to be a star" you have to take the bad with the good and getting video taped and photographed comes with the territory. It's been that way forever...or at least as long as Hollywoods' existed. So let the young man go, Mr. Harrelson...you asked for it and these guys can also be your friend when it comes to popularity. Just make sure it's not the wrong kind.

2981 days ago
14.

Min Burns    

Harrelson asked PLEASE and Levine provoked the incident. I heard the audio and it's clear that the intent of this photographer was to irritate Harrelson and it worked.
Hey, it's the normal thing to do when encroached upon by someone else, you respond and Harrelson had even asked politely and said PLEASE but this jerk denied him his request and provoked the attack.
Had it been me, I'd have done the same with the camera. I don't know if I'd have choked the guy or not but I'd definitely have broken his camera to make it end there at least with that particular camera.
It's time the paparazzi take responsibility for their actions! When you violate a person's space, you're going to get a negative response. That's just a given and it doesn't take an Einstein to figure that one out.
Look at what running from the paparazzi did to Princess Diana. I think that pretty much covers what can happen to both parties when the paparazzi go too far.

2981 days ago
15.

Anna Karo    

I am not aware of any statute that makes it illegal to photograph a "celebrity"
the term "celebrity" may be overbroad even undefinable. Surely, here we
must agree that the presence of Woody while somewhat interesting certainly
does not rise to the level of "celebrity". I think we should all acknowledge that
there are statutes that prohibit the behavior presented in the tape. Here, Choking is an assault one that it appears will be addressed in the civil courts since the
police were too busy too address the criminal behavior of Woody on Thursday
nite. Unless the choking was in self defense it is a crime. Woody from the tape
appears to be the aggressor walking what appears to be maybe 15-20 feet
toward the smaller framed cameraman and grabbing his neck. I think the
body guard later placed his hands on the cameraman in the tape.

Now the choke hold may be a reasonable and frequent activity in the Woody
household but it prohibited by law on the street.

2981 days ago
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