Nick, Jessica Change Their Mind, Will Do Sonny & Cher Song

'Newlyweds' pair plan to cheese it up on their variety show.

If Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were ever worried they couldn’t be “Newlyweds” forever, they’ve found a whole host of opportunities to keep the cameras on their every move. The couple’s first variety special airs Sunday, and Simpson’s just shot a sitcom pilot, while Lachey’s about to shoot one as well.

Simpson and Lachey mocked the idea of having their own variety show when they hosted “Saturday Night Live” in January, and they’ve even snickered at the idea of doing a Sonny & Cher cover as a duet, because it would be too “cheesy” (see “Jessica And Nick Plan Duets Album, Say No To Sonny And Cher” ).

Yet that’s precisely what they’ll be doing Sunday night when ABC airs the first of several proposed variety shows from the couple. Not only will they be doing an homage to the ’70s variety show mainstays when they cover “I Got You Babe” at the close of the show, but Simpson and Lachey plan to milk the cheese factor as much as possible.

  Photos from ‘The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour’



“It’s going to be a lot like our ‘SNL,’ ” Simpson said, “but there’s going to be more music and cheese variety fun and stuff I think all ages would adore and love. The fun stuff is mocking ourselves or being funny or acting stupid.”

“To be honest, I don’t know if it’s like Sonny & Cher because I’ve never seen Sonny & Cher,” Lachey said. “I made a conscious effort to not watch them before we did ours, because I just wanted ours to be who we are, whatever we wanted it to be and whatever came out. I didn’t want to re-create Sonny & Cher, but we do ‘I Got You Babe’ as a kind of throwback parallel thing. The whole thing is just tongue-in-cheek.”

Starting with the opening bit, in which Simpson and Lachey promise to steer clear of showcasing their talents on the show. “You already know we can sing and dance, so we’re going to be doing some other stuff,” Simpson says as the couple walks onstage.

“Like cooking, painting, sculpting, mathematics,” Lachey says.

“And you don’t want to miss out on me doing some pole vaulting,” Simpson adds. “But we give you our word that there’s absolutely, positively …” They pause and then break into song: “There’s not going to be any singing or dancing on this show!”

Then, to the tune of “One” from “A Chorus Line,” they’re joined by a troupe of dancers as they alter the lyrics to match the circumstances of the show, making other soon-to-be-broken promises, such as, “And there will be no random walk-ons by celebrities.”

Cue Jewel, who walks onstage, singing the next lyric.

The rest of the program follows in much of the same manner, as the cable couple echoes classic weekly variety shows, bringing out a cross section of celebs from the worlds of music, comedy and sports for sketches and musical numbers (see “Mr. T, Jewel To Appear On ‘Nick & Jessica Variety Hour’ “ ).

“This is just a one-time show,” Simpson said, “but it’s something we’d love to do five times a year, kind of a Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie [Osmond] thing, but make it really updated and only do it sporadically, not every week where people are like, ‘Enough already!’ ”

Instead, what both Simpson and Lachey hope to do every week are their respective sitcoms for ABC. Simpson shot her pilot Wednesday (see “Starring Jessica Simpson As … Jessica Sampson” ), and Lachey will shoot his during the first week of May.

While Simpson plays a fictionalized version of herself, her husband is taking on the role of a struggling actor who does errands for Gina Gershon’s character to pay the rent (see “Nick Lachey’s New Job? Errand Boy For ‘Hot Mamma’ Gina Gershon” ).

Lachey prepared for the role by … playing an another actor. He recently shot a guest spot on the ABC sitcom “I’m With Her,” which airs April 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, playing an already successful actor who’s a bit too vain for his own good. Lachey’s character is set up on a blind date with fellow movie star Alex Young (the sitcom’s star, Teri Polo).

Both Simpson and Lachey will find out in mid-May if their pilots will be picked up. In the meantime, their variety special airs Sunday on ABC at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and Simpson’s video for “Take My Breath Away” premieres Tuesday at 6:30 P.M. ET/PT on “Making the Video.”