When I arrived outside Katie Holmes’ apartment building on 7th Avenue and 24th Street in New York on Tuesday, 12 days after the actress announced her divorce from Tom Cruise and one day after the divorce was finalized, about a dozen paparazzi lined the sidewalk. Holmes had recently been inside the building’s ground-floor Whole Foods, which she has visited numerous times in the past two weeks. But the photographers didn’t expect a photo out of it. Nearly every lingering photographer seemed to have figured out that Holmes has a way of getting into the store from inside her swanky apartment building, The Chelsea Mercantile at 252 7th Avenue.
Enter Whole Foods with a camera, and you’ll encounter a burly security guard at the entrance making it clear that photographers looking to photograph Holmes are unwelcome. (BuzzFeed’s photographer was asked to put a lens cap on his camera when we entered the store. “Absolutely no photos allowed,” the guard said. “And no, I cannot answer any questions.”)
So photographers must wait outside for a street shot in the open air. She’s gone outside almost every day post-divorce filing so far, so why should she stop now?
The New York Daily News published a photo of Holmes inside the Whole Foods, but Carmen Valdes, the owner of Photo Image Press who was staking out the block, said it was almost certainly arranged. “The newspaper probably called her publicist, to make a set-up shot. They do that,” she explained. “It was definitely arranged. If any of us were to just go inside, we’d get called out.”
Though the masses might perceive the paparazzi as at odds with their celebrity subjects and their publicists, the photographers outside Holmes’ apartment tell a different story. Most wouldn’t sneak inside the grocery store incognito to snap photos of Holmes, Valdes reasoned, because they wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of Holmes’ “people.” Other photographers on the scene didn’t want to even share their names, for fear that revealing any information they might have about Holmes’s situation to press could damage their reputations. Most refused to be quoted whatsoever.
Though the scene outside the building was mostly tame during the hour I was there, neighborhood residents have been complaining about the paparazzi’s presence on Twitter.
Police have made some attempts to control the group of photographers — they’ve been asked to stand behind a barricade at times, and one photographer said his car was towed because he had an invalid press pass in the window — but Valdes said New York cops tend to leave paparazzi alone. “That’s the beauty of New York City,” she said. “If this was LA, we would be arrested for loitering or God knows what. LA doesn’t play, they’re for real.”
Photos: Michael Schmidt / BuzzFeed