Ashton and Demi: Is It the Real Thing?

updated 06/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/2003 11:00AM

So now that PEOPLE has outed the May-December relationship of Ashton Kutcher, 25, and Demi Moore, 40, it's time for their "friends" to chime in.

With this high-profile friendship taking place in Hollywood, some observers think there's less going on here than meets the eye, the magazine reports in its current cover story.

For instance, an acquaintance of Kutcher's -- sounding hurt by the star's coziness with his new high-powered pals -- suggests the romance "might be part of Ashton's plan to move up from the B-list to the A-list."

Kutcher, currently scoring big with MTV's "Punk'd" (in which he embarrasses his celeb pals with outrageous pranks), and his chum-around-town Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs are working overtime to drum up interest in what they call Rat Pack 2003.

Combs (whom Kutcher met in February at the NBA All-Star Game) is Frank; Kutcher is "Dino, baby."

Asked at an MTV Movie Awards pre-party if a Rat Pack member is dating Moore, Kutcher shook his head and sighed, "Aw, man, you can't ask that. That goes against everything that (Rat Pack 2003) is about."

Other pals aren't as taciturn. "His friends all say, 'She's hot,' and they would date her too if they could," says one buddy. "But I think it's more appropriate for Ashton to be dating Demi's oldest daughter."

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