Who says unscripted drama doesn't make for good television?
Life was anything but simple on Friday morning for Paris Hilton, who, along with the rest of the free world, is awaiting word on whether her get out of jail (relatively) free card is about to be revoked.
And while the day's main act—the hearing to determine whether Hilton will be taken off house arrest and returned to jail, and whether the seemingly starstruck sheriff's department will be held in contempt of court—has just begun, the opening number has been almost as captivating.
Last night, at the behest of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer scheduled a 9 a.m. hearing to ascertain the hows and whys—mostly whys—of Hilton's reassignment by Sheriff Lee Baca, ordering Hilton to appear to face the court. But about 7:45 a.m., a court spokesman made the surprise announcement that Hilton was literally going to phone in her testimony.
And Judge Sauer was none too pleased.
With the judge staring on, a courthouse showdown took place between the lead prosecutor, Assistant City Attorney Dan Jeffries, who claimed he was never informed of Hilton's MIA status, and the Sheriff's Department, which claimed it had the authority to transfer Hilton and refused to go fetch her. A peeved Sauer wasn't buying it, and ordered the sheriff to retrieve Hilton from her West Hollywood home and deliver her to the courthouse, where the hearing was reset for noon.
About 45 minutes later, a marked patrol car arrived at the gated home, where pandemonium was in full swing. Paparazzi and TV news camera crews jockeyed for position around the home, while helicopters filmed from above. Los Angeles police were dispatched to the scene to attempt to thin the crowd by only allowing credentialed media to cover the abode.
The 26-year-old eventually emerged in sweats. She tearfully embraced family members before being handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car. Parents Kathy and Rick Hilton exited the home on the heels of their daughter, admitting they were powerless as to their daughter's fate.
"It is what it is, and it's in God's hands now," Kathy Hilton told reporters.
And then the show went on the road—literally—much to the chagrin of KNBC's Robert Kovacik.
The local Los Angeles TV reporter was one of dozens stationed outside Hilton's home. With reporters climbing over each other—and the squad car—to get a money shot of the departing heiress, Kovacik seemed to have been jostled by fellow reporters into the path of the black-and-white. He was clipped by the car and said he hurt his back and knees.
He was en route to the hospital about the same time Hilton, and the remaining, uninjured media contingent shadowing her, arrived at the courthouse.