Kutcher pulls plug on 'Punk'd'

Saturday, December 13, 2003

— Ashton Kutcher says the joke is no longer on him -- he announced Friday that he was pulling out of the MTV prank show, "Punk'd," after two seasons.

His representatives swear it's not a trick, but anything the prankster Kutcher says must be taken with a bit of skepticism.

The last new episode featuring Kutcher, star of "That '70s Show," is set to air Sunday, where the victim of a practical joke will be singer Beyonce Knowles.

"We have had an incredible time doing the show and have decided to stick with the old adage of 'leave 'em wanting more' and that's how we feel with the show," said Kutcher, 25, who stars in and co-produces the series.

"Punk'd" is a version of the old "Candid Camera" that preys on young celebrities. Among Kutcher's victims: singer Nick Lachey, who thought his wife, Jessica Simpson, had allowed her hillbilly relatives to move their trailer onto his mansion estate, and Justin Timberlake, who was moved to panic when he thought all his belongings had been seized because he owed $900,000 in back taxes.

"Today is a sad day for MTV, but probably a happy day for Hollywood. Celebrities can rest a little easier knowing that the Punkings have ceased," said Lois Curren, an MTV executive in charge of series development.

It's possible the announcement is a trick aimed at duping new prank victims. A page on MTV's Web site that promotes Sunday's season finale pledges: "But don't worry, the new season starts in March."