Will the real Ashton Kutcher (search) please stand up?
No, not the stoner dude, Michael Kelso, he’s left behind after seven seasons on Fox’s “That 70’s Show (search).” Not the merry prankster he still plays on a show he created, MTV’s “Punk’d (search).” Not even the movie star and paramour of Demi Moore.
No, the real Ashton Kutcher, 27, a confessed workaholic, may be emerging only now: One smart guy who is determined to become a Hollywood force.
Kutcher is executive producing yet another reality comedy series, called “Beauty and the Geek (search),” premiering Wednesday night on the WB. It’s a kinder, gentler spin on NBC’s “Average Joe.” Kinder, because it isn’t a dating show, but more of a social experiment with a $250,000 payoff.
The seven babes and seven Mensa-level geeks, paired off as partners, have to coach each other as they face challenges such as spelling bees and dance routines.
But it’s far gentler than "Joe," because the goal is not to humiliate, but, in the words of Kutcher’s producing partner, Jason Goldberg, "to celebrate their differences. I never thought that anybody on this show would connect. I was wrong."
More than one couple, says Goldberg, walk away in love. Which is amazing, when you consider that one of the beauties can’t answer the question, "Which state is east of West Virginia?" And one of the guys draws a complete blank when asked, "What is the dance move made famous by Madonna that is also the name of a magazine?"
So why did Kutcher want to make "Geek" his next show? "I would say that in our lives, we’ve been the geek," says Goldberg. "That was a big reason. We were outsiders."
For the record, Kutcher wasn’t an outsider for long. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, five minutes before his fraternal twin brother, Michael, who was diagnosed at age 13 with cardiomyopathy. The deadly disease eats away at the heart muscles. Michael survived with a heart transplant.
Before being discovered by a modeling agent, Ashton was studying biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa so he could pursue a cure for his brother’s disease.
Is there a guiding philosophy for this mogul-in-the-making’s company? Goldberg says something that makes you think Kutcher is still trying to make his brother — and others — feel better. "It’s great to laugh. We feel that we can heal through comedy."