Tabloid watchers got a glimpse of the future when paparazzi, gathered for the wedding last week of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky, unveiled more high-tech tricks of the trade than anything used to cover the gulf war. The day before the Oct. 6 ceremony, crafty photographers learned the walkie-talkie frequencies used by Taylor’s elite security team by using a 007-type homing device. During the event, one guest allegedly smuggled in a camera with fiber- optic lenses as small as hatpins. Shutterbugs dangling from helicopters above the scene wielded Leicas kept steady by hand-held gyroscopes. And that sky diver who landed just feet away from the bride and groom? He was wearing a videocam helmet.
The Taylor nuptials brought dozens of reporters from news agencies from around the world to Michael Jackson’s ranch near Santa Barbara. ”This isn’t a wedding — this is a commercial for Liz’s new perfume and Michael’s new album,” said one National Enquirer employee, who was covering the event with an entourage of six. The Enquirer ran its operation out of a Ramada Inn; competitors at the Globe pitched their tent — literally — at a nearby vineyard, complete with a makeshift heliport, a mobile darkroom, and a gourmet buffet.
But for all the technology and manpower, there just wasn’t much film or copy to ship home. One veteran paparazzo, who’d hired a squad of three helicopters, got only one ”money shot” — a glimpse of Liz and Larry walking out of the wedding gazebo. At day’s end, the photographer was seen pocketing additional cash by selling $20 T-shirts printed with the all-too-true message: ”I survived Liz Taylor’s 8th Wedding and Media Circus.”