In this celebrity-obsessed time, where even the seemingly most innocent home visit by a UPS delivery-person, handyman, or allegedly discreet escort specializing in pirate-themed bondage can result in a humiliating four-page, cameraphone-photo spread in Life & Style spotlighting the appalling tackiness of an actor's window treatments, an image-conscious famous person's best friend is the nondisclosure agreement, the first legal line of defense against preventable privacy violations. The LAT today risks third degree burns by getting too close to the sizzle of Hollywood's hottest legal document:
"It's the information age, and information is power," says Peter Dunham, an interior designer based in West Hollywood who is often privy to VIP secrets through his work for celebrities. Dunham says requests for nondisclosure agreements have become so prevalent, he's had to add a boilerplate in his contracts stating that he and his staff will keep their lips sealed on every detail, be it the celebrity's address, her budget, the kind of flowers she prefers in the foyer or the intimate details of what lies in her closets.
"I don't even want to know things about my celebrity clients for fear it will slip through my mouth accidentally," he says.
One A-list film director, whose name he can't reveal, was so concerned about privacy that Dunham wasn't even allowed to take the standard "before" pictures of the home for planning purposes. The director, whom Dunham recognized at first sight, also insisted on meeting under a pseudonym. Dunham's philosophy: "If you're going to pay me, I'll call you whatever you like." [...]
"Any plumber or gardener can use a cellphone camera to film a husband and wife fighting, or a child having a tantrum, or a client getting out of a shower, and then download it anonymously to YouTube," says Paul Nicholas Boylan, an attorney in Davis, Calif., who specializes in nondisclosure agreements. "In a world like this, it makes sense that a contract to fix a sink or mow the lawn would contain a confidentiality agreement."
It's not hard to envision a very near future in which even the most ironclad of NDAs are seen as insufficient to adequately protect the privacy of celebrities, and increasingly paranoid measures become de rigueur for anyone who requires even the most routine of in-home services performed. Soon, the repair of a clogged toilet will necessitate a plumber being picked up by an intermediary in a Cerritos Costco parking lot, where he'll be blindfolded, tossed in the back of a van, and beaten with bamboo rods on the soles of his feet until he promises to never disclose to the media the client's inability to remember that the master bathroom's commode can't handle the strain of eliminating her feminine hygiene products. Then, and only then, will he be driven to the celebrity's Bel Air mansion to complete the repair, once all reasonable fears of a DESPERATE HOUSWIFE TAMPON-IN-CRAPPER SHOCKER! cover story have been dispelled.