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Simpson’s new reality: a sitcom

Singer/housewife signs deal with ABC to star in ’04 series
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

Pop singer turned reality TV star Jessica Simpson has now set her sights on scripted television.

Simpson has inked a development deal with ABC to star in a comedy series project for the network targeted for fall 2004, which will be executive produced by Ted Harbert and the singer’s father-manager, Joe Simpson.

“Jessica has infectious energy and unmistakable star quality,” ABC entertainment president Susan Lyne said. “She also has a built-in fan base in both music and television, which is a great jumping-off point for us. We’re looking forward to developing the ideal showcase for her considerable talents.”

No studio or writer are attached to the project, whose concept is yet to be determined. Sources said that talks are under way for 20th Century Fox TV, where Harbert is based, to possibly come on board to produce.

A spokesman for 20th TV declined comment.

The news about 23-year-old Simpson’s deal with ABC comes on the heels of CBS signing a comedy pilot deal with 16-year-old actress-singer Hilary Duff as part of the major networks’ stepped-up efforts to attract younger viewers.

Harbert said Simpson’s project drew strong interest from all networks.

“She was delightful in a room, she was charming and poised and funny, and the networks responded, but ABC’s been wonderful through this,” he said. “We think Jessica exudes that all-Amercian charm that I think ABC identifies themselves with, and, in our mind, it is a perfect fit that can go on any of their comedy nights.”

Joe Simpson called the deal with ABC “a great and logical next step for Jessica and the evolution of her career.”

Jessica Simpson made a splash with her 1999 album, “Sweet Kisses.” While her follow-up albums, “Irresistible” and, most recently, “In This Skin,” didn’t match the success of her debut, Simpson recently found success on the small screen with “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica,” her reality series for MTV with husband Nick Lachey.

After a high-rated first season, the show was recently picked up by the cable network for a second season.

Simpson’s acting experience includes a recurring role on the Fox comedy “That ’70s Show.”