Clooney leads celebrity fightback against 'stalker' site

Celebrities always complain about invasions of privacy, so when the gossip website Gawker allowed fans to post sightings of their favourite stars on a street map of Manhattan, it was bound to cause a stir.

Actors, models and their publicists screamed that “Gawker Stalker” could lead to real stalking. But one of Hollywood’s biggest names has taken the battle back to the stalkers, with plans to sabotage the whole website.

George Clooney, Hollywood’s current liberal beau, has hatched a plot to destroy Gawker Stalker by posting a flood of fake celebrity sightings, sending any deranged fans on futile quests around New York while their targets sleep easy.

“A couple of hundred conflicting sightings and this website are worthless. That’s the fun of it,” Clooney wrote in an e-mail to celebrity publicists that was leaked to The New York Post.
Clooney’s spokesperson, Stan Rosenfield, said he knew of several sightings on the site of celebrities who were currently abroad.

However, Clooney’s plans are unlikely to upset the people behind Gawker, whose website has become a must-read for tens of thousands of Manhattanites. The prospect of a showdown with Clooney appears to have only whetted Gawker‘s appetite for a fight: its editors said they were holding a competition for the first person to e-mail them a picture of Clooney in New York. Of course, they gave specific instructions on how to find him.

“He’s staying at the Peninsula and filming around Midtown. He’s teasing and testing us, and we will not look away. We love him too much to ignore him,” their statement said.

Gawker Stalker’s website contains a detailed street map of Manhattan that allows members of the public to post a celebrity sighting with a time and place. Recent sightings include Julia Roberts, Glenn Close, Scarlett Johansson ... and Clooney himself.

The site also allows spotters to post a comment, such as one person who described seeing Cate Blanchett dining at a Brooklyn bistro, adding: “She looked simply sophisticated in a black sweater, grey skirt and funky fishnettish tights. But, really, when does she not?”

Gawker editor Jessica Coen said there had been an overreaction to the dangers posed by the website. “Our spies are just regular people ... people that are excited to see someone they like. Our readers are, for the most part, a very educated, well-meaning bunch,” she added.

However, for some publicists the site is far from a joke. They believe the website puts their clients at risk of attack, or at least makes the task of those seeking to harm them much easier. “I have two words: ‘Rebecca Schaeffer’,” said Rosenfield, referring to the 21-year-old television star who was killed in California in 1989 by an obsessed fan.—Guardian Unlimited Â

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