Paparazzi agency X17 has been linked to the beating of a rival photographer and reportedly hires ex gang members, but its owner said at NYU today that we should all thank X17 paps for protecting our precious celebrities. X17's Francois Regis Navarre "suggested that a pack of paparazzi may have been able to prevent John Lennon's murder in 1980; [wife Brandy] Navarre said photos of partying starlets have sometimes spurred their families to get professional help," Ad Age reported. Funny that paparazzi king Francois is now so concerned with everyone's safety; it was only last week that he said, after being informed police were close to taking three of his photographers into custody in connection with the beating, "whatever they do on their own is their own business." The X17 freelance paps had allegedly told their victim, "you should not be here - only X17 gets these shots." Here's X17's justification for being so bloody aggressive:

"We're trying to get the shots before they go into rehab," said Brandy Navarre...

"We don't have to send 500 faxes and deal with a publicist," Ms. Navarre said. "We just go out there and do it."

But Bonnie Fuller, editorial director of American Media and former editor of Us Weekly, probably described the appeal of the approach most directly. "It's invigorating," she said.

The NYU panel was sponsored by the Atlantic.

[Ad Age]