People might accuse Jessica Simpson of being a dumb blonde, but no one's going to make more fun of her than herself on her ABC sitcom-in-the-works. The concept? She'll play a pop-culture phenomenon — named Jessica Sampson.
"It's like reality-meets-script, kind of like how 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' was done," the singer explained, "but not as much, because there's more script than that. But a lot of it will be just seeing how much of a fool I can make of myself. I don't mind. Laugh at yourself, you know?"
In the yet-to-be-titled series, Simpson's character — a single version of herself — signs on to a prime-time TV newsmagazine to work as an on-air reporter, much to the dismay of the hardworking female producer. Throughout the course of the show, her character would interview a slew of subjects, mostly famous athletes, actors, musicians and politicians, some of whom would be played by themselves in cameo spots or guest roles. Think Murphy Brown crossed with Jiminy Glick, where the interview blunders are more entertaining than the real thing.
"It's like a '20/20'-type of interviewing situation," Simpson said, "and I'm just a mess. In the thing, I don't know anything about athletes or sports or [about] the governor I'm interviewing or whatever. It's going to be really cute. The pilot is adorable."
Since it's also an office ensemble, Simpson's co-stars will carry much of the show as well. Gregory Harrison ("Falcon Crest") will play Brett Harte, the fictitious program's anchor. Other characters would include the show's neurotic producer, Holly, played by Ali Hillis ("Undressed"); her free-spirited assistant, Amanda, portrayed by Aimee Garcia ("All About the Andersons"); Joe, a jealous co-anchor played by Johnathan McClain; Mike, an infatuated camera guy portrayed by Brad Rowe ("Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss"); and Dan Hall, an unspecified character played by Bryan Callen of "Mad TV."
Just as her character is dependent on her ficticious crew to keep the show from becoming a disaster, Simpson recognizes that the people behind the scenes on the all-too-real sitcom are just as necessary to keep it afloat. She had nothing but high praise for them.
"The writers are awesome, from great comedies and sitcoms," Simpson raved. The writers' credits include "Frasier," "Spin City" and "8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter." The director, Gil Junger, has worked on the movie "10 Things I Hate About You" and sitcoms such as "Ellen," "Dharma & Greg" and "Hope & Faith." "We just really fell in love with him," Simpson said of Junger. "He's awesome, he's done amazing work lately. It's just really talented people involved."
That includes Simpson's father, Joe. He'll take on the role of executive producer, just like he does on "Newlyweds." "He's been on every casting call, read every script, sent me every script," she said. "He's been really great at throwing out things about my personality to put into Jessica Sampson. My poor dad, he never gets to sleep."
Neither does she these days, what with her never-ending list of projects, which includes upcoming movies and books in addition to her current work in music and television (see "Jessica, Britney May 'Duke' It Out Over Short Shorts" "Nick, Jessica Offering Camera-Free Relationship Advice" and "Mr. T, Jewel To Appear On 'Nick & Jessica Variety Hour"). But it's precisely because she felt overworked that the sitcom appealed to her, she said. In a sense, it allowed her to take a break.
"In the pilot, I just get really fed up with the music industry and touring, and I just want to be in one place," she explained, "and it's actually kind of why I did the show in the first place. I want to be in L.A., I want to be home and learn how to do my laundry. I just want to be at home for a little bit. I'll still do music and everything, but it would nice to be home. So it's kind of the same as my character, who takes a break, too."
The pilot tapes April 7 in Los Angeles. ABC should know by mid-May if it's picked up as a series.
In other Jessica news, the premiere of "Making the Video" featuring Simpson's clip for "Take My Breath Away" has been moved to April 13 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT (see "Jessica Simpson Goes From 'Top Gun' To Loved One With 'Breath' ").
For a full-length feature on Jessica Simpson, check out "Jessica Simpson: The Innocent."