The Toronto Film Festival Hoax

In September, 2000 movie stars from around the world had gathered at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the opening gala, on September 7th, they were pulling up in their chauffeured limousines and parading down the red carpet into the event, to the applause and cheers of the waiting fans and paparazzi.

One limousine pulled up, and out stepped Patrick Brannigan. Fans immediately called out his name, and photographers asked him to turn so that they could take his picture. The security crew pushed people back to allow him to walk into the festival.

However, as Brannigan walked down the red carpet, he apparently became disoriented. He started walking backwards and then lurched into the crowd, as if fainting.

At that point, the security realized that they had no idea who this man was, so they hauled him to his feet and pushed him out into the street.

It turned out that Brannigan's grand parade down the red carpet was a publicity stunt pulled off by a local web entertainment company, "Patrick Brannigan" was actually not a real star at all. He was an obscure actor (real name Ken Leonard) who had appeared in a few of their web movies. The fans and photographers who called out Brannigan's name were other employees of the company.

Amazingly enough, Trailervision had perpetrated the same hoax the year before when they had smuggled people into the event simply by having fake paparazzi scream out their names as they stepped out of limousines.

Albert Nerenberg, a director at Trailervision, commented that, "We just think it's sad that so much of the intrigue and glamour [of the festival] comes from the fact it's all about excluding people. To me that's fair comment for send up and the public appears to agree."

Trailervision planned to use footage of the event in an upcoming movie (Trailervision: The Movie) which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London, England on October 20, 2000.

  • "Hollywood Glitterati Hoaxed Again," PR Newswire, September 12, 2000.