Originally created 01/17/04

Ashton Kutcher promises he's not 'punking' MTV fans

LOS ANGELES -- Ashton Kutcher knows he's the boy who cried "Punk'd!" - but he promises that his MTV practical joke show is really and truly finished.

Despite the understandable public skepticism, Kutcher says he's NOT playing one of his signature pranks on fans.

He really is all punk'd out.

"I've become the boy who cried wolf," he acknowledged to The Associated Press while offering some assurance that his decision to end the show after two seasons isn't just another hoax.

"Let's put it this way," he said. "I'm getting ready to start shooting two movies, I'm still working on 'That '70s Show,' I'm producing two other shows for MTV and creating a one-hour drama pilot for Fox ... I don't have the time."

That won't leave much time for making monkeys out of his celebrity pals with tricks such as moving fake hillbilly relatives onto the grounds of their mansions (like he did to "Newlyweds" stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, who helped play the joke on her husband) or stealing a $200,000-plus automobile (the fate that befell "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz).

Fans who feel they will be unable to survive without a fresh dose of "Punk'd" can get their fix Tuesday when the first season of the prank show comes out on DVD.

The two-disc set includes previously unseen footage and extended scenes of pranks on stars including Justin Timberlake, who thought his home and possessions had been seized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Kutcher said he started the show by springing jokes on pals he knew would be willing to let him highlight their gullibility on national television. Then it became a status symbol for young stars to be the victim of a "Punk'd" gag.

"People were really skeptical about this show in its first season," Kutcher said. "What I always said was, 'You don't look like a fool, you look like a human being.' It's humanizing. It brings you back down to a relatable level."

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