Punk'd is an American hidden camera-practical joke reality television series that first aired on MTV in 2003. It was created by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, with Kutcher serving as producer and host. It bears 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. New episodes hosted by King Bach and DeStorm Power air on BET.
History and format
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.
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. Several actors, like Jill Wagner, Masi Oka, B.J. Novak, Caitlyn Taylor Love, Dax Shepard, and Carlos McCullers II were accomplices in the pranks.
The series finale aired on MTV on May 29, 2007 and culminated in early June with the Punk'd Awards. The revived series was hosted by different celebrity guests each week.
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. After a five-year hiatus, the series was revived with a March 29, 2012 premiere. 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, the guests included: Tyler, the Creator, Justin Bieber, Bam Margera, Hayden Panettiere, Lucy Hale, Nick Cannon, Dax Shepard, Miley Cyrus, Heather Morris, Kellan Lutz, Daniel Tosh, and Mac Miller. Ashton Kutcher made a returning appearance on an episode where he got to punk again.
The ninth season ended on June 7, 2012.
On May 25, 2013, Katalyst Media stated that a tenth season was in development. At their 2015 upfronts, BET announced that they will be rebooting the series for their network. Katalyst has since closed, but Goldberg has returned as executive producer with a revival of the Katalyst banner without Kutcher. The reboot is tailored for the network's audience and goes behind the scenes of many pranks. The reboot premiered on August 18, 2015.
To promote the series, BET announced the return of BET: Uncut, a block for uncut music videos, on August 11, 2015. In reality, after a reveal and introduction from new hosts, King Bach and DeStorm Power, BET aired highlights from past segments of the series as well as previews for their series.
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