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Kutcher's new 'Pop Fiction' attempts to play with reality

The Baltimore Sun

WHAT ARE we to make of Ashton Kutcher's new series, Pop Fiction? Kutcher, the creator of Punk'd - a show I dislike heartily - has now turned his trickery on the media, staging events with real celebrities (or faux celebs like Paris Hilton), fooling paparazzi and other press outlets.

Kutcher says, "We're having fun, but we want to say to people, 'Can you really believe everything you read and see?'"

Uh. Really? I'm shocked, shocked to discover that things aren't always what they appear to be.

I didn't believe Paris Hilton on Larry King, talking about changing her life, so why would her participation in a "real" stunt, change my outlook about the media, how it feeds off celebrity and how celebrity feeds off media?

After all, every star or pop culture idiot who collaborates with Kutcher is getting a great big load of free publicity. I don't believe everything I read, and I don't think the readers of the glossy mags, and those who watch the entertainment shows, believe they are getting any real deal.

The press corps often gives stars a snarky hard time when they are telling the truth. Are they going to turn up the heat, now that they know they might be the victims of a Kutcher prank?

If Ashton thinks he is going to quell the voracious paparazzi hordes by shaming them, he's got to be kidding. They'll be worse than ever. He and Demi Moore better steer clear of The Ivy.

I don't think Kutcher has done his fellow celebs a favor with this one. But then, maybe he wasn't trying to do a favor. Maybe it's just an actor wanting to put out a successful TV show and heighten his profile. After all, we can't believe everything we read and see, right?

Royal rundown

Flipping through the new Vanity Fair for April - the "Who Says Women Aren't Funny?" cover - I was very amused by an ad for a contest. "Be a Spoiled Royal! Win A $50,000 King's Ransom to a noble cause of your choice, an authentic English title and a luxury vacation."

The contest, the "King Me Sweepstakes" is linked to Showtime's big hit, The Tudors, which launches its second season in April. What amused me was the realistic painting, or retouched photo that illustrated the ad. (The kind of thing Radar magazine does so well!) There's Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII, standing behind Natalie Dormer, who plays the too-ambitious-for-her-own-good Anne Boleyn. She is shown in a deeply plunging neckline, with her long gown open, her legs exposed and curled up in a vampy sex-symbol pose. Not even the daring Mistress Anne would have shown herself off in such a fashion. It looks like the cover of a romance novel. Gave me a giggle.

And speaking of the The Tudors, I have to wonder if the success of this TV series had anything to do with dampening the box office of the big screen's The Other Boleyn Girl with Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman? This movie seemed a pretty good bet; the book by Philippa Gregory was a best-seller. Despite critical carping, I liked it. But I have to admit I'm a sucker for historical drama. Bana, so fine in Troy and Munich, made a compelling, virile and, when thwarted, cruel Henry.

Anyway, I eagerly anticipate the new season of The Tudors. Yet it means curtains for Anne, who held out giving Henry all of what he wanted until he married her. Then she couldn't seal her part of the deal - to bear him a son. She had a daughter. You know, Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.

Good for England, bad for Anne Boleyn.

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