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De Niro drama

You lookin' at me?

blog by S.J. Velasquez  • 

Yesterday, my co-worker Kathryn enthusiastically posted a blog entry about the apparent Robert De Niro sighting in Buffalo.

De Niro, she said, was caught shopping at Room, the hip home furnishings joint on Hertel Avenue. Seemed legit enough. There was photo evidence, and reputable local sources were verifying the sightings on Facebook. We were wrong, though ... maybe. We think we’re wrong. We can’t prove it.

Pictured in the now-notorious photograph are the De Niro Doppelganger and Buffalo style maven Erin Habes. Habes—in good fun—posted the pic online, and it soon began circulating the social network scene.

By Monday morning, the picture was all over the Internet, and we re-posted it. I tweeted the link to Kathryn’s blog entry, and a few tweeps responded rapidly, letting us know that fellow local web writers at Buffalo Rising had dismissed the De Niro double as that—a fake.

This is where things went weird, and we got sleuth-y!

Kathryn went back to Facebook to find the original post and its description. Nothing. Everything was deleted. The image was gone from Room’s Facebook wall and—seemingly—every other wall. We managed find the reposted picture, along with comments from believers and doubters. One woman claimed the lookalike was her friend’s dad. Buffalo Rising contributor Bluedevil insisted, “We’re familiar with the gentleman in the photo and he’s not Robert De Niro.”

Convinced we were gullible goofs, we called Room to confirm the sighting was a hoax. Confirmed. Not Robert De Niro.

We relayed the sad truth, letting our Twitter followers know that we’d made a call to room to confirm. @musicbrainbooks reminded us that we probably should’ve confirmed the info in the first place. Oh, it hurt. But it was true, so true.


Can you blame us for wanting to believe? Sigh. The evidence was convincing enough, and nobody had revealed the lookalike’s true identity ... that is, if he was not, in fact, De Niro ...

WHO was this guy? Could it actually have been De Niro, pretending not to be himself, going along for good fun? We scoured the net for clues, finding that the real De Niro had been in New York City on Thursday to promote his new film “New Year’s Eve.” Then we went to IMDB to see if he might be in the WNY area scouting set locations. Stretching, we tried connecting his pre-production film “Comedians” with Buffalo. We thought maybe—jusssst maybe!— he was in WNY with co-star Kristen Wiig, a Western New Yorker from the outskirts of Rochester.

Now we truly believed there could be some giant coverup. We figured we’d go right to the source—Habes, the woman with De Niro’s double in the picture. Habes said the mystery man was not De Niro, at least not that she knew of. The man had walked into the store with a woman, and the two were checking out furniture. Habes said she spotted him from her office and immediately saw the resemblance. “I kept looking,” she said, amazed at the man’s mannerisms which seemed to mimic that of De Niro. After a little gawking and wondering, Habes approached the man and asked, “Do you know who you look like?” He was extremely flattered, she said, and the man responded in a way that suggested he got this comment quite often.

Habes asked if Not-De Niro would pose for a photo with her, and he happily obliged, even “made the De Niro face,” Habes said, laughing. The resemblance was so striking, she admitted, that she went home Saturday night and watched “Meet the Fockers,” starring the real De Niro.

Habes and I had a good chuckle over the De Niro drama, and I asked the mysterious non-celeb’s name. “I don’t know who he is,” she said, “he didn’t leave any info.”

SAY WHATTTT? We—the Buffalo.com team—had been so close to accepting the faux De Niro story. Still suspicious, Kathryn made a call to E! News correspondent—and Hamburg’s own!—Ken Baker.

“I think it looks like him,” Baker said initially. “Wow, this is really funny.”

Baker took a moment to gather his thoughts and take a good look at the De Niro doppelganger.

“The truth though is that [De Niro] has been a lot thinner lately,” Baker, now suspect of the man’s identity, admitted. “But man, that really does look like him. I don’t think … well … yeah, he’s just been a lot thinner lately.”

Baker also added that the man in the photo had hair a little too white, and he expects De Niro would be photographed in pricier apparel. And, as much as we hate to agree with him, Baker concluded, “If there’s no common sense reason why he would be in Buffalo, then it probably wasn’t him.”

What do you think? Convincing lookalike? If you know this man, please let us know his true identity. We’d love to meet him.

TAGGED: celebrities, celebrity sightings, e, erin habes, gossip, hertel ave, ken baker, robert de niro, room buffalo

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  1. John Mullins December 13, 2011 @ 5:00pm

    You know the strangest thing? In your side by side pictures, the doppelganger even has the same two moles on his face as the real DeNiro (one just above the side of his mouth, the other on the left side of his cheek on the same side) pictured to the right. That’s a very strange coincidence.

    John Mullins's avatar
  2. Ben Tsujimoto December 14, 2011 @ 10:52am

    VERY STRANGE INDEED. I am still suspicious.

    Ben Tsujimoto's avatar
  3. Julie Strefeler February 03, 2012 @ 2:05am

    That’s Vinnie Lepera, a Buffalo legend!

    Julie Strefeler's avatar