Is `Punk’d’ Being Punked?

Dec 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Are the media about to get “Punk’d,” or has Ashton Kutcher’s hit MTV series simply made industry executives paranoid? Last week, Ashton Kutcher abruptly canceled plans for a third season of the celebrity prank show, despite strong ratings. Mr. Kutcher, who is also a star of “That ’70s Show,” said he wanted to leave audiences wanting more. MTV Exec VP of Series, Music and Movie Development Lois Curren seemed to confirm the move, despite already having ordered another season of the series. “Punk’d” became the 9 p.m. anchor for MTV’s “Sunday Stew,” a new two-hour block of programming targeting teen boys that debuted in the fall. “Punk’d,” with a 2.9 rating, was second only to Spike’s WWE wrestling among the 12 to 34 demographic on cable last week. That hasn’t kept executives from speculating on the future of the show. One rival cable honcho noted, “If I believed for one second he was truly done with MTV, I would be all over his agents for a shot at the series. I don’t care what it would cost. MTV would have to be crazy to let it go.” MTV posted a notice on its Web site last week that the show would return in March. That has since been replaced with word there will not be a third season. Mr. Kutcher’s reps could not be reached for comment.