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Is 'Dell dude' Steven done for?

By Jeordan Legon

Actor Ben Curtis plays the
Actor Ben Curtis plays the "Steven" character.

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(CNN) -- Dude, are you getting canned?

Dell Computer said its blond-haired surfer dude pitchman "Steven," played by actor Ben Curtis, will be taking a break despite helping to increase sales for the company since the campaign went on air two years ago.

Dell already has started airing less dude-centric ads that feature a group of eager interns. The company refused to say whether Steven is just taking a breather or whether the campaign is a goner.

"This does not mean the end of Dell's association with the Steven character," Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman said. "We're just trying new things, looking at alternatives."

Kaufman said Steven ads are still airing around the country.

"Whether or not they'll run long into the future I can't say right now," he said.

Not so good news for the many fans of the "Dude" ads, which have developed a strong cult following. NBC's "Saturday Night Live" spoofed the character. His admirers posted Ben Curtis trivia on Web sites. And bulletin boards buzzed anytime Dell released a new commercial featuring the laid-back spokesman.

How 'dude' got his start

Curtis, 21, was a struggling drama student from New York when he beat out more than 100 others for the chance to be in the Dell commercial.

In the commercials, he plays a goofball who harangues friends and family to buy Dell computers. The debut ad was one of Curtis' favorites. In it, Steven talks into the camera and tells his dad why he should buy him a Dell -- stressing loads of free accessories and his dad's love for a bargain. In other commercials, Steven persuaded friends' parents to buy their kids Dells, closing with the catch phrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell."

Curtis took the public adoration in stride and during an interview with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times in January, he seemed fine with the idea of retiring the campaign.

"This has made me more humble in a way," he told the newspaper. "I'm more aware of not letting it go to my head. Sometimes, it would be nice to just be a theater major. But this is an awesome opportunity. I work as hard as I can. If it works, great. And if they're done using me, they'll stop and we'll move on."

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