Her casting made headlines, and the show's launch prompted countless articles, billboards and commercials setting her up as the show's star — but now, producers of the "Melrose Place" remake have announced that [artist id="1241636"]Ashlee Simpson-Wentz[/artist] will be leaving the series, and claim that it was their plan all along.
"We always knew that this murder mystery would end in episode 12," executive producer Todd Slavkin told Entertainment Weekly, explaining the exit of Ashlee and co-star Colin Egglesfield while referring to a plotline that has connected their characters during the ongoing first season. "And we always knew that [Ashlee's] character of Violet would be instrumental in that as a suspect, and [Colin's character of] Augie as well. And once that murder mystery was solved, she would go on her way. That was the original plan going into the development of the show."
As a result, Wentz and Egglesfield are off "Melrose" barely six weeks after the first episode of the series aired. But as the producers make plans to tie up their "Who Killed Sydney?" plotline with episodes that will air through January, skeptical fans are already suspecting that the firings are an attempt to shake up the program, which launched to low ratings that have continued to erode.
"Well, I understand that perspective," Slavkin told told EW. "None of us foresaw the ratings; there's nothing we can do about that. All we can do is write and produce the best show we know how. It's fine to speculate, but in the end there was always a plan."
Simpson said in a statement, "Having the chance to play Violet on 'Melrose Place' has been a thrill. Although I always knew her story would come to a final, insanely unpredictable end, playing a creepy, unstable character was something I always wanted to do, so I jumped at the chance. Thanks to the CW and the entire cast and crew of 'Melrose Place' for allowing me this opportunity!"
Although Ashlee apparently knew she was on the show for only 12 episodes, she didn't mention it in any of of the numerous interviews she'd given since her casting last March as Violet Foster.
"They're total professionals and they took it like professionals," Slavkin said of how Wentz and her co-star took the news. "When you go into a show you never know what's going to evolve and what the possibilities are. But because they knew ahead of time [that leaving was a possibility], it wasn't a complete shock."