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
International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…