Actor Sam Worthington punched paparazzi photographer, Sheng Li, in the face in New York and has been charged with assault. Li is alleged to have triggered the altercation by kicking Lara Bingle, whom Worthington described as his wife, in the shins leaving a visible bruise.
Worthington stars in the movie Avatar and the upcoming Schwarzenegger flick, Sabotage.
The altercation took place at 5:30 p.m. in Greenwich Village at Cubbyhole bar. Worthington was heard saying, “You kicked my wife” during the scuffle. Worthington and Bingle have been dating since September of last year but have been spotted wearing wedding rings as of late.
Lieutenant John Grimple of the NYPD spoke to Australian radio host Denis Walter, saying, “He (Worthington) was charged with assault and he was given a desk appearance ticket. He was released from the precinct and has a court date of February 26th.” For his part, Li was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.
This incident comes on the heels of Alec Baldwin’s 5,000 word essay in New York Magazine entitled I Give Up, in which he discusses his own paparazzi problems and his decision to leave public life.
Baldwin has famously been labeled a homophobe for calling a paparazzi reporter a “toxic little queen” after the reporter accused his wife, Hilaria, of tweeting during the funeral of James Gandolfini. Baldwin fervently denies he’s homophobic and is clear that he resents the accusation. He resents the paparazzi as well and says he once had aspirations to run for office in New York City to, among other things, “Change the paparazzi law.”
After the public outburst, Baldwin found himself on the cover of tabloids and gossip pages, and his reputation had become damaged to the point where he was fired from his MSNBC talk show, Up Late, just weeks after it debuted. Baldwin isn’t afraid to name names in his essay, calling out MSNBC head, Phil Griffin, for his decision to sack him and also CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for demanding Baldwin be “vilified” for his comments. He then goes on to take a new shot at his old nemesis, Harvey Levin, founder of TMZ.
The Baldwin/Levin feud dates back to the release of a private voicemail message left by the actor in 2007 to his young daughter, Ireland, in which he called her a “rude, thoughtless, little pig.” Baldwin claims Levin has done more harm to Ireland than he ever could have and offered another salvo to the gossip news king, saying Levin is, “This kind of cretinous barnacle on the press” and laments saying, “Now I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible.”
It’s hard to think of the gossip news industry as much more than slimy, but it’s sensational and attractive as America remains thoroughly enamored with celebrity culture. As such, celebrity is stricken with teams of professional stalkers whose numbers are commensurate with the stalked’s stardom. Some celebrities can roll with the intrusion and even turn interactions with the paparazzi to their advantage by remaining personable while others just flat out flee. The ones who get our attention most though are the few who confront these paparazzi, especially the action stars who use their fists like Sam Worthington.
Baldwin though may have figured out the only way to sever the paparazzi parasites from the celebrity host and it’s a drastic one: disappear… if you can.
By Matt Stinson