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That 'Punk'd' Guy Gets Plenty Busy

October 4, 2004 12:00 AM

Ashton Kutcher, 26, who recently returned as Michael Kelso on Fox's "That '70s Show," continues running a cottage industry of goofy hidden-camera gimmick shows. His newest is "You've Got a Friend," based on a British comedy series. It premieres Oct. 24 as part of the male-oriented Sunday Stew block on MTV, the network where he also was renewed last week for three more seasons (24 episodes) of "Punk'd," his other "Candid Camera"-style show. Mr. Kutcher and partner Jason Goldberg aren't sharing details of "Friend," but a press release quotes Mr. Kutcher as saying: "For $15,000, would you give the creators of `Punk'd' 48 hours of your time to mess with your life?" Under their Katalyst Films banner, which has an overall development deal at 20th Century Fox TV, they have a six-episode order for an as-yet-untitled reality series for The WB, which is fast-tracked for airing later this season. Sources described it as a makeover/dating show in which a beauty is matched with a geek who gets made over. A reality show for Spike TV features William Shatner, who punk'd a whole town in Iowa. There is also a hidden-camera show in development for ABC aimed at late-night. And Katalyst has a blind script commitment at Fox Broadcasting. Kutcher, a former model from Iowa, also has several movies coming up, including the interracial comedy "Guess Who," in which he marries the daughter of a character played by Bernie Mac; the animated "Open Season" for Sony; and upcoming "The Regulators," a cop action comedy at Disney. His lastest film was "Butterfly Effect."



-ALEX BEN BLOCK



'Good Day' Gossip

When Jillian Barberie was suddenly dropped from Fox's "Good Day Live" earlier this year, a press release insisted she left to pursue other opportunities in daytime. She and her publicist stuck to that story for months afterward. However, last week in an on-air phone call to radio shock jock Howard Stern, Ms. Barberie admitted she had been fired from the national version of the show, as had her co-host Dorothy Lucey, though both continue on the local show in Southern California, "Good Day L.A." Ms. Barberie can also be seen on Fox's pro football coverage and has a new gig doing style items for "The Best Damn Sports Show Period." Twentieth TV replaced them in late August as Steve Edwards' sidekicks on "Good Day Live" with Arthel Neville and Debbie Matenopoulos. Apparently, it isn't an easy job. Ms. Matenopoulos recently managed to knock herself out while demonstrating how to fall into a stunt airbag. What are the casting requirements for that show, anyway?



-JAMES HIBBERD



Courting Stupidity

Add this to the America's Dumbest Criminals file. Court TV was in Miami last month searching for contestants for its new reality series "The Chase." The series, scheduled for launch in April, features professional trackers who chase people pretending to be fugitives as they try to win prizes by not getting caught. But one aspiring contestant wasn't playing around. He called attention to himself by showing up to the audition drunk and disorderly. Court TV staffers called the police, who checked him out using the information sheet he filled out for the network. It turned out he was a real fugitive and was arrested. Maybe he'll still get to appear on TV-on "Cops."



-JON LAFAYETTE