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How Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis hooked up

LOUISVILLE KY - MAY 04:  AshtKutcher attends Maxim Derby Eve With Bulleit BourbMellwood Arts   Entertainment Center May

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Ashton Kutcher attends Maxim Derby Eve With Bulleit Bourbon at Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center on May 4, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images for Bulleit Bourbon)

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Updated: September 4, 2012 6:16AM

It may have taken a long, long time but it’s clear the decades-old friendship between former “That ’70s Show” co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis finally has morphed into a full-fledged romance.

Apparently, it was Kunis along with a number of other Kutcher chums who reached out to the actor as his marriage to Demi Moore was collapsing.

“Mila basically was just one of several people who gave Ashton a shoulder to cry on — so to speak,’’ said a good Hollywood source, close to both stars. “Mila is a wonderful listener and, since she had been friends of Ashton’s — and also Demi’s — for such a long time, she had a lot of insight into their issues and problems.”

According to that source and others with knowledge of the developing romance, Kutcher and Kunis realized they shared a lot in common — including a strong attraction for each other.

“Probably something they both had stifled for a long, long time,” said a good friend of Kunis’.

The couple’s escape to Bali seems to have clinched the deal, and everyone expects them to “go public” (beyond the paparazzi shots we’ve seen of them kissing) in the very near future.

Happily, it also appears that Moore has begun to move on from her deep depression over losing Kutcher. The actress again is dating — and again it’s a younger man: New Zealand actor Martin Henderson. But he’s only 12 years younger, as opposed to the 15-year gap Moore shared with Kutcher.

More good news: Thanks to some good mediation led by ex-husband Bruce Willis, Moore and their daughters Rumer, Tallulah and Scout have largely reconciled.

JACKSON UPDATE: As expected, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff on Thursday restored Katherine Jackson as guardian of her grandchildren, Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson — saying she had done a “wonderful job” in caring for Michael Jackson’s children since his death. However, the judge also confirmed Katherine’s grandson T.J. Jackson as co-guardian, to share in the care of the three minor children.

Now we know another reason LaToya Jackson has wisely avoided the family crises of the past few weeks. She’s been busy prepping “Life With LaToya,” her reality show that will debut next year on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

VIVA, TONY! As the legendary Tony Bennett celebrates his 86th birthday Friday, the singer — who returns to Ravinia for his umpteenth sold-out concert Aug. 18 — is excited about his third duets-themed CD, being released Oct. 23. This time it’s an homage to some of the best Latin singers in the world, with “Tony Bennett: Viva Duets” featuring his pairings with such stars as Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Gloria Estefan, Miguel Bose and Vincente Fernandez.

BOOK BEAT : While Barbara Cook was in town recently to perform at Ravinia and be honored (along with Our Town’s Mike Nussbaum) at the 60th annual Sarah Siddons Awards, the Broadway musical legend told me she is working on her memoir with noted New York Times writer and critic Charles Isherwood.

“The only problem, is finding time to get it done,” Cook said with a laugh.

Chicago author Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, who recently published her 20th anthology of stories, will perform a number of them at “This Much Is True,” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark in Andersonville.

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