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Hollywood North gets paranoid about paparazzi

“I will need to escort you down the block.”

She stayed with me until the halfway mark between Columbia and Manitoba St., by which point I suppose she had determined that I was not a TMZ photographer on the loose, and she passed me off to a younger colleague who was similarly clad in bright orange.

As I was hustled down the sidewalk, I surveyed the scene. On the backs of the director’s chairs were written the words “Caesar, Rise of the Apes.”

In the middle of the street, a garbage can had been overturned, with its contents strewn across the ground. Clearly, this was the work of hostile primates on a rampage.

Having ransacked the garbage, the apes must have been enticed by something in one of the regal old homes that line this part of 10th. On the opposite side to where I was walking, a camera crew was set up outside the windows of a house set back from the street on a hill.

Trying not to anger my handlers, I stood on my tip toes but couldn’t catch a glimpse of anything. No people in furry ape costumes and no movie stars either.

 At the end of the block, I spied a bright green taxi-cab with the words “San Francisco Taxi” emblazoned on the side.

Fast forward three hours and after a hot day in the sun, I was making my way back along 10th. The set didn’t look very different than it had in the morning – maybe somebody forgot to practise their lines the night before.

 I thought that I had escaped unnoticed this time but as I neared the end of the block, I ran into my old friend, Ms. Orange Vest, who called to someone behind me, “It’s ok, Renee, it’s the same girl, same camera.”

Apparently, Toronto is not the only place in Canada where the public can’t roam freely in public spaces.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the film industry. It certainly brings in a lot of revenue for Vancouver. But I also think that we should be able to enjoy our city’s tree-lined streets without being harassed or inconvenienced.

A Film Activity Permit will set you back $100 per day from city hall. The 2001 Planet of the Apes remake (the original film was made in 1968) cost $100 million and made $362 million worldwide. Caesar, the latest addition to the Apes franchise, is sure to be another goldmine in the box office.

But maybe the real problem here is not the film industry itself, but the paparazzi and the popularity of tabloids driven by our obsession with celebrity.

By the way, did I mention how disappointed I was to not have caught a glimpse of James Franco or Freida Pinto, who are both starring in the film? 

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