I was doing a corporate event shoot at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel for the makers of Chapstick, Advil, NyQuil, Robitussin and so forth, a company now named Pfizer, who later purchased Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. This monster company had rented two thirds of one of three most expensive hotels in Beverly Hills for a week, and was paying me several thousand dollars a day document their sales meeting with representatives from more than 60 countries. So I was wearing a tag around my neck that said “Official Photographer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and was allowed to shoot anything and anywhere in the hotel.
On about the third day of the shoot, I had a three hour break between scheduled events I needed to photograph. One of the pharmaceutical employees came running into the dining room where I was eating and announced to everyone “They are having an Academy Awards Pre-Party here at the hotel today, and I just saw Will Smith get out of an SUV and come in. My food was dumped in the trash on my way out the door.
I am wearing a “Official Photographer” badge and carrying ten thousand dollars worth of cameras, and I walked into the celebrity parties of a lifetime. I photograph Forest Whittier, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith in the first 30 minutes and many others from viewpoints and angles envied by every Paparazzi there lined up behind the red cushioned chained off area. I was walking around freely in the valet parking area of the Beverly Hills Hilton, taking pictures of the stars as they exited Limos, Hummers and Range Rovers. I was thrilled to speak to Steven Spielberg and greet him by name, and have him say hello back. There were security guards from the hotel, and body guards for each star, but when they saw my badge, they left me alone. Until . . .
Eddie Murphy arrived in a black SUV, and a valet stepped up to open his door. I was less than five feet from his back door, and as Mr. Murphy got out of the SUV, he stumbled and fell on me, smelling of liquor, while stepping on my foot and knocking me to the ground. I am taking what were sadly blurry pictures of Eddie as he fell on top of me, but one of his bodyguards stuck his butt in my face, and pushed me away with his backside.