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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Celebrity watch!

It’s only natural to be fascinated by Ashton Kutcher.

Most people around here know the basic facts: He was born in Cedar Rapids, grew up about halfway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and was “discovered” at a bar in Iowa City while he was going to the UI. Next thing you know, he’s modeling for Calvin Klein in Paris, he’s a TV star, and then he’s married to Demi Moore.

The marriage to Demi Moore really took it to the next level. Try to imagine Kutcher as a 14-year-old, sitting with a big tub of popcorn, watching “Indecent Proposal” at the old Carmike Cinemas in 1993.

“One day, that will be my wife,” Kutcher thinks to himself.

It’s remarkable that someone who was a teenager at Clear Creek Amana just 15 years ago is married to one of the most formerly-lusted-after women on Earth. It makes anything seem possible, and it — as well as his own hard-earned fame — makes Kutcher a favorite in this part of Eastern Iowa.

People watch for his return, and I am here to report that he is returning. On Dec. 12. He’s getting involved in flood relief, which is a serious need, particularly in Cedar Rapids.

So why does it feel vulgar and condescending for Kutcher and Mediacom to ask people to pay $10 for the chance to meet him before the Iowa premier of his new movie? Why does the premier of the movie have to have anything to do with a fundraiser for flooded small businesses?

Kutcher may have donated thousands of dollars to flood relief already. It’s extremely possible, even probable. There’s no way for most of us to know, and there’s no reason to go after the guy for getting involved in a somewhat clumsy attempt at helping flooded small business owners. But good gracious. I’d rather donate money straight to the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. I don’t want to pay admission for the chance to meet any human being. I pay actors by buying movie tickets, and I’ll pay flood victims by donating money to them.

And speaking of movie tickets, what kind of title is “Personal Effects” anyway?

Answer courtesy Fandango.com: Ashton Kutcher stars as a broken man who sets off on a vengeance-filled search for his sister’s murderer, only to fall into the arms of a gorgeous older woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) who may share the same torment in this romantic drama from Insight Studios. TV veteran David Hollander directs from his own script.

Hmmm. Well, tickets for the film’s premier, at the Englert Theater in Iowa City, are $15.

Shawn Johnson is also involved in the Mediacom fundraiser, and she’s actually charging $50. But there’s no raffle. Pay $50, and you get to meet the beaming young woman from West Des Moines. She’s younger than Kutcher, and seems like such a nice person, that I won’t get into any extended discussion here.

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