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Revived series title card
|Format||Comedy reality, candid camera|
|Created by||Ashton Kutcher|
|Starring||Ashton Kutcher (2003–07)|
Celebrity guest hosts (2012)
|Theme music composer||Elizabeth Miller|
Brian Friedman (Theme)
Ricky Friedman (Theme)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||67 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jason Stuffings|
David R. Franzke
Lois Clark Curren
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original run||Original series:|
March 17, 2003 – May 5, 2007
March 29, 2012 – June 7, 2012
Punk'd is an American hidden camera-practical joke reality television series that first aired on MTV in 2003 and was created by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, and produced and hosted by Ashton Kutcher. It bore a resemblance to both the classic hidden camera show Candid Camera and to TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes, which also featured pranks on celebrities. Being "punk'd" referred to being the victim of such a prank.
The series finale aired on MTV on May 29, 2007. The series culminated in early June with the Punk'd Awards.
After a five-year hiatus, the series was revived with a March 29, 2012 premiere. The revived series was hosted by different celebrity guests each week.
History and format
Original series title card (2003–05)
Originally, Ashton Kutcher and MTV were developing a series called Harassment, a hidden camera show which would feature pranks on regular people. However, a January 2002 prank involving a fake dead body at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas backfired and the couple who were targets of the prank sued Kutcher, MTV and the hotel for $10 million. The concept was later retooled to involve celebrities instead. Pranks would be set at a variety of locations, public and private. The show's first prank was set at singer Justin Timberlake's home, where he was led to believe that government agents were seizing his home and valuables because of unpaid income taxes. The prank was named by Time magazine as #3 in their list of 32 Epic Moments in Reality-TV History. Furthermore, Ashton Kutcher's prank on Justin Timberlake was Ashton Kutcher's first prank of the show and there was a celebrity scandal that led Timberlake to stop smoking marijuana after the prank. During the prank Timberlake was high according to Starplus Online Kutcher would sometimes use real-life current events as elements in his pranks, as when he punked tennis player Andy Roddick, who was scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show, by convincing him that his automobile was trapped by the Los Angeles mudslides. Kutcher sometimes sets his pranks where his targets work, such as on the sets of movies, TV shows, and music videos. As one example, Kutcher pulled a prank on The Rock, who was filming the movie Be Cool, by convincing him that his trailer was destroyed. As another example, Kutcher punk'd Kanye West by convincing him that he could not shoot his music video for "Jesus Walks" on Sundays without a permit. Kutcher has also done holiday-themed pranks, as when he punk'd Beyoncé Knowles into thinking she knocked over a 50-foot (15 m) Christmas Tree, or when he pulled a prank on Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz into thinking he derailed a train at a Christmas festival. After the joke progresses to a point, usually with the celebrity having become angry or frustrated at the outrageousness of the situation, Kutcher or one of the actors will announce to the surprised victim that they just had a practical joke played on them, usually with use of the catchphrase, "You just got punk'd!", or by revealing a large sign or banner to that effect. Each half-hour episode usually features three pranks.
A frequent segment during the first two seasons was a Punk'd cast member pretending to interview celebrities at red carpet events, only to mock them instead. This segment closely copies what originated on The Howard Stern Show in the 1980s, when Stern and his writers began sending interns (most notably Stuttering John Melendez) to ask celebrities embarrassing questions on the red carpet. During the first season then-fifteen-year-old Ryan Pinkston posed as a reporter from a children's television program, and would insult the celebrities. During season two, the producers then chose a foreign interviewer accompanied by her interpreter who would then ask inane questions to the guests.
In October 2010, New York Magazine revealed that Punk'd was being revived with Justin Bieber replacing Kutcher as the host; however it stated that Kutcher would remain as executive producer. The first episode of the ninth season, featuring Bieber as a guest host, was filmed in late August 2011. On December 31, 2011, MTV confirmed that the series would be revived in 2012, and that a different celebrity guest host would be featured each episode, so far the guests have included; Tyler, the Creator, Justin Bieber, Bam Margera, Hayden Panettiere, Lucy Hale, Nick Cannon, Dax Shepard, Miley Cyrus, Heather Morris, Kellan Lutz, and Mac Miller. Ashton Kutcher made a returning appearance on an episode where he got to punk again.
Failed and unattempted "punks"
While the pranks most of the time are successful, some actually have failed.
- In December 2003, Kutcher attempted to "punk" the ex -WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg by having a truck run over an exact replica of his prized motorcycle, but the stunt went wrong when the truck clearly missed the bike. When the bike spontaneously exploded without any visible reason, Goldberg realized what was going on, and asked, "Who do I get to kill first?" as Kutcher revealed himself, knowing the joke had failed. It aired on the season 2 finale.
- Michael Vartan and Pamela Anderson both deny ever being fooled. Anderson's punk involved convincing her that a porn movie was being shot in her back garden. She explained that she realized it was a prank when she confronted a nude model on the premises.
- Kutcher has claimed that he himself is "unpunkable". In the very first season, Kutcher was tricked into walking through the metal detector repeatedly at MTV Studios and repeatedly strip-searched and patted down. Later on down the line, his crew attempted to punk him using Britney Spears, but Kutcher got wise to the plot and convinced Spears to help him turn the tables on his own crew.
- During his interview of Kutcher for Interview, actor Brad Pitt advised Kutcher not to prank his Ocean's Eleven co-star George Clooney, a notorious expert prankster himself. Pitt told Kutcher, "Don't do it. Don't ever go near it. Clooney will kill you and everything you love. I know it's tempting, but don't do it."
- Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has stated that she does not wish to be Punk'd, and is so paranoid that she often assumes she is being Punk'd whenever any suspicious or out of the ordinary mishap occurs. For example, if a valet were to give her the wrong car when leaving a restaurant, which Kutcher's crew members did to Simon Cowell during the Season 5 Premiere.
- In the March 2012 series revival premiere, celebrity host Justin Bieber attempted to punk professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek by creating a staged argument between a man and woman near his table at a restaurant. Following the argument, Dyrdek immediately stated "Are we on Punk'd? Cause that shit is fake as fuck." The prank was then canceled and the same prank was later successfully performed by Bieber and Dyrdek on musician Sean Kingston.
- On May 24, 2012, Heather Morris tried "punking" Joe Jonas by arriving at a house and helping "burglars" rob the house. When Joe and his friend Ashley Benson arrived, one of the "burglars" asks him to carry a TV into a white van. Later, Joe walks into the house and sees two "victims" tied up: a man tied to a fridge and a woman tied on the floor. Joe and his friend walk in. Joe with a smirk on his face. A "security guard" comes in and asks for information and asks what Joe's name was and Joe replies, "Tom Cruise". Again with a smirk. The Security Guard asks what Joe's e-mail address was and Joe types in "Nice try, Home Boy". Finally, The "Security Guard" asks, "What are you doing here?" Joe Jonas simply replies, "I came to this house to get Punk'd and you guys did a pretty good job". The whole crew are speechless. Joe and his friend leaves and says to his friend, "I knew it was a reality show because I saw a hidden camera in the van and I knew something was sketchy." Heather Morris and the crew pulls the plug on this failed Punk'd attempt.
- On June 7, 2012, Mac Miller attempted to punk fellow Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa by having his friend help "rob" a marijuana clinic without Wiz's knowledge. After being questioned by the "police", Wiz starts smirking and laughing, prompting nervousness from Miller and the rest of the crew. Khalifa then went to his car to call his fiancée to say that he was being Punk'd. Miller and crew came out, realizing the prank had failed. Later that same night, Miller attempted to punk actor Neil Patrick Harris by putting a bear in his car and saying that it was Harris's fault, because he had left food in his car after signs told him specifically not to. The prank went through, but while it was going on, Harris didn't seem to be scared at all. After Miller and the crew came out to tell him that he had been Punk'd, Neil revealed that he knew all along, and that he was just playing them. Mac Miller is the only celebrity guest host in history to have two pranks fail in the same night.
Controversy and conflict
- Alias star Michael Vartan reportedly refused to sign the release after being punked by Kutcher, preventing the prank from airing. However, Vartan denies ever being punked, and claims that the story was completely false.
- Scrubs star Zach Braff was involved in a prank with teenagers vandalizing his car. Braff was so furious that he proceeded to, in his own words, "pummel" a 12-year-old.
Celebrities who have been Punk'd
Reruns began airing on TV Guide Channel in 2009 and PMC (with Persian dubbing) on November 20, 2010.
- An Icelandic version of the show, Tekinn, hosted by Auðunn Blöndal, premiered on Sirkus TV in fall 2006.
- A Norwegian version, Lurt av Karlsen hosted by Jan Fredrik Karlsen, premiered on TV2 4. March 2010.
- A Hong Kong version, Whatever Things!, was hosted by Edison Chen, in which he pranked famous Asian artists like Vanness Wu.
- A Dutch version, Gotcha was hosted by Georgina Verbaan for the first season and Tatum Dagelet for the second.
- An Arab version called الكاميرا الخفية (The Hidden Camera).
- An Indian version called MTV Bakra was initiated by Cyrus Broacha airing from 1997.
- In Iraq there was a show, Put Him in Bucca, where fake bombs were planted in celebrities cars and they were threatened with death and prison.
- In Romania there is a show broadcast and produced by Intact Media Group, who run host TV station Antena 1. It is called "Plasa de stele" (A trap for stars) and it has been broadcast for over 2 years. It is hosted by Dan Negru
- In the Philippines a version of the show called "Victim" was a short lived Prank show pranking celebrities the host was Actor/Model/VJ/Fitness Guru/singer Carlos Agassi the show lasted for one season and in one year in 2003-2004 on ABS-CBN and re-aired on sister networks Studio 23 and MTV Philippines (Now MTV Asia)
- In Japan the show is called ドッキリ パニックフェイス (Surprise Panic Face) where famous comedians and celebrities are punk'd.
- In Canada the show is broadcast on MuchMusic.
- ^ "Punk'd: Is Ashton Kutcher Really Calling It Quits?", TVSeriesFinale.com, March 27, 2007
- ^ Keveney, Bill (2012-03-26). "'Punk'd' returns with Ashton Kutcher behind the scenes – USATODAY.com". usatoday.com. http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/story/2012-03-25/punkd-ashton-kutcher-justin-bieber/53777190/1. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- ^ "Couple sue over TV corpse 'prank'". BBC. 2002-06-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2042466.stm. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- ^ Webley, Kayla. "32 Epic Moments in Reality-TV History: 3. Punk'd: Justin Timberlake Cries", Time magazine, accessed April 8, 2011.
- ^ Starplus. (2011, June 14). Retrieved from Justin Timberlake 'Was Stoned' While Being Punk'd By Ashton Kutcher: http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2011/06/14/justin_timberlake_was_stoned_while_bei
- ^ EGOS & IDS; Tough-to-Ask Questions Are Getting Easier to Ask, The New York Times, July 5, 1992, accessed May 28, 2009.
- ^ Soriano, Cesar G. "MTV prankster Pinkston is a wee bit popular", USA Today, July 13, 2003
- ^ "MTV Bringing Back Punk’d, With Host Justin Bieber", New York Magazine, October 5, 2010, accessed October 11, 2010.
- ^ MTV's Hit Series "Punk'd," The Pop Culture Phenomenon, Returns on Monday, March 19, for an All-New Season, Featuring Bigger Laughs and More Shocking Surprises from Your Favorite Stars
- ^ MTV’S HIT SERIES “PUNK’D,” THE POP CULTURE PHENOMENON, RETURNS ON MONDAY, MARCH 19, FOR AN ALL-NEW SEASON, FEATURING BIGGER LAUGHS AND MORE SHOCKING SURPRISES FROM YOUR FAVORITE STARS
- ^ "PAMELA REFUSES TO BE PUNK'D"; contactmusic.com; May 2, 2004.
- ^ "Brad Pitt Warns Ashton Kutcher 'Don't Punk George Clooney'", celebrityspider.com, March 22, 2005.
- ^ "Ellen DeGeneres Refuses to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher"; celebrityspider.com; October 4, 2005
- ^ "Kutcher's Punk'd Prank Leaves Vartan Unimpressed", Hollywood.com, April 10, 2005
- ^ "Zach Braff Beat Up Kid During 'Punk'd' Stunt"; starpulse.com; September 14, 2006.