by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith
With the success of his MTV reality show "Punk'd," Ashton Kutcher
now reigns as the Prankster of Love. At least, that's the title Rolling Stone bestowed on the 25-year-old, who -- among other things -- got Justin Timberlake
to believe the government was seizing his possessions due to a $900,000 back tax debt while the "Punk'd" camera rolled.Who knows, maybe with his reported romance with Demi Moore
, Ashton is "punking" us all.
Though he's kicking it up many notches by sharing his celebrity skewering practical jokes with the MTV audience, in fact, Ashton is upholding a great Tinseltown tradition. Practical jokes -- by the famed, on the famed -- have been a staple in Hollywood as long as there's been a Hollywood. After all, what else do you do when you're rich, privileged, creative and powerful enough to indulge in silly, sometimes funny, and often cruel behavior, once you've done everything else you could for kicks?
Robert Redford and Paul Newman have done it to each other for decades. On one occasion, Newman had a wrecked car crushed and compressed into a solid mass and deposited on Redford's front lawn. Redford, in turn, had a commode delivered to Newman's front door.
-- who is getting an awful lot of attention as a potential Republican candidate for California Governor -- hasn't been above passing out exploding cigars, awakening a co-worker from a nap by pouring ice water on his crotch, or plying a teetotaler friend with tequila until she vomited.
It's hard to imagine that anyone has been more of a practical joker than George Clooney. He's cancelled friends' airline and/or hotel reservations. He took a photo from an "ER" cast member's stag party and had it blown up into a billboard shortly before the wedding. During his "ER" days, he rigged a fake "body" in surgery with a whoopie cushion, set to go off when his castmates operated, and spiked a glass of orange juice a costar had to drink in a scene -- with Tabasco.
Mel Gibson has rivaled Clooney as king of the practical joke with such stunts as rigging a soundstage ceiling full of feathers so that they poured out in the middle of action -- presenting Julia Roberts with a stuffed rat, and lastly, pretending to stalk Helen Hunt during "What Woman Want" shooting.
Freddie Prinze Jr., has certainly been doing his bit to keep the practical joke tradition alive. He filled the shoes of "Down to You" co-star Julia Stiles with toothpaste.
And, when he was making "Boys and Girls" with Claire Forlani, he showed up at her door one night, dressed in black, hood over his head -- pretending to be a serial killer.
Matthew Perry attached an "I'M GAY AND PROUD OF IT" bumper sticker to the car of Matt LeBlanc.
And then there's the "Charmed" troupe. When Rose McGowan joined the team, co-stars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs "pantsed" her, stole her clothes and locked her in a trailer naked. On another occasion, her coworkers hid a pig's foot in Combs' Dodge truck. She didn't discover it until it was in a smelly, advanced state of decay.
And so it goes. Privileged people acting like naughty children -- because they want to and more importantly, because they can get away with it.