VIDEO: Thousands tricked by Brett Cohen’s fake celeb stunt in Times Square

Cohen estimates he posed for about 300 photos with people who thought he was a celebrity.

Judging from the crowd of frenzied fans surrounding Brett Cohen in Times Square, you’d assume he was the star of Hollywood’s latest blockbuster.

But 21-year-old Brett Cohen isn’t an actor. Nor is he a musician, an athlete or a model. Brett Cohen is a prankster — and on the night of July 27, he duped thousands of people into thinking he was a huge celebrity.

Cohen, a media management student at SUNY New Paltz and a Long Island native, planned the fake celebrity stunt with a group of friends just to see if they could pull it off. They recruited two bodyguards with ads on Craigslist, planted paparazzi-style photographers and personal assistants. Cohen, though, had to make sure he looked the part. He donned a collared shirt, jeans, tinted sunglasses and spiked hair.

“I was going for a Tom Cruise kind of look,” Cohen, who posted the video online Wednesday, told Metro.

He entered NBC on 50th Street and exited at 49th Street to a small crowd of people who gathered after his “assistants” told them a big celebrity was about to exit. Cohen said his crew did not plant any fans and all the reactions seen in the video are real. His “assistants” were instructed not to tell people anything about him or why he was famous.

“The crowds grew on every block,” Cohen said. “People would praise my work. They’d say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it. I’m such a big fan.’ Only one guy said, ‘I don’t know who you are.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know you who are either.’ And that was it.”

Cohen’s co-producer, Edward Sturm, was part of a camera crew interviewing fans in the crowd. Some people said they recognized Cohen from “Spider-Man.” Others said they’d heard his music and thought he had a bright future.

In one group of excited teenaged fans, a girl can be heard saying, “This is the best day of my life! I love him!”

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Cohen laughed. “It makes a point about culture and how people are so obsessed with celebrity.”

The prank continued for several blocks until one of Cohen’s bodyguards ushered the crew into a hotel bar. The crowd eventually dissipated. At the end of the video, Cohen is seen walking to the subway as if nothing had happened.

“The most interesting thing I’ve learned was how a video platform like this is the best way to showcase comedy,” Cohen said. “I’ve tried a lot of different platforms, and it did take a lot of talent to pretend the whole thing was normal.”

Cohen estimates he posed for about 300 photos that night. He said the crowd was a mix of tourists and New Yorkers.

“People are so obsessed with fame. It’s not a theory. It’s a fact,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether they are really famous or not — people want to take a picture and they will put it on Twitter and Instagram in the hopes that their friends will know who it is.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.