Why does Hollywood need a special party-crasher law?

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Why does Hollywood need a special party-crasher law?

Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 03:06AM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Good thing California doesn't have real problems. 

Forget crime or budget deficits or health care. What the state really needs is a new law targeting people who sneak into Hollywood awards shows. 

That's exactly what California lawmakers will begin debating when they return from summer vacation today. The SAG-backed measure, AB451, would expand the state's definition of trespassing to include "the intentional, unapproved entry into an event clearly advertised as off-limits to the general public." First-time offenders could face up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Sure, a tougher trespass law would add a nice arrow to the quiver of awards show security forces, helping to deter the gate-crashers who look at Hollywood's red carpets and velvet ropes and see a fun challenge. And SAG has characterized the bill as necessary to remedy a safety issue. "Trespassing by its very nature puts people at risk," the guild told the AP in a statement. "Illegal entry poses a threat to security and we feel that all event sponsors should have the full force of the law behind them in providing for the safety of their guests."

But is a new law really necessary? The various awards groups have been pretty effective at keeping unwanted guests out. And those who have successfully crashed haven't yet kidnapped Jon Hamm or caused the proceedings to grind to a screeching halt. We can think of a bunch of other more pressing Hollywood issues for the bill's author, Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), to throw his weight behind, like keeping film and TV production in California.  

More than likely, SAG is just peeved at people like Scott Weiss, the notorious party crasher who snuck into the 2008 SAG Awards, among others, then participated in a documentary (called "Crasher," of course) exposing flaws in the security systems. Weiss, who is now "retired," tells the AP he has showed the doc to awards show reps to help them, and he's against the proposed law.

The bill is expected to wind its way to a Senate floor vote sometime this month.        

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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