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Jessica Simpson is moving from reality to scripted comedy.
Universal Television and Electus will co-produce the pilot presentation based on a pitch developed by Robin and Nick Bakay that’s inspired by Simpson’s colorful life. Nick Bakay, whose credits include Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Zookeeper and ‘Til Death, will pen the script and executive produce alongside Electus’ Ben Silverman and Simpson’s father/manager, Joe Simpson. Electus’ Jimmy Fox will co-exec produce.
“We are thrilled to team up with the multitalented Jessica Simpson to bring this new sitcom to life on NBC as she is truly a modern-day Lucy with incredible comedic chops,” Electus founder and chairman Silverman said. “From running a fashion empire to wrangling her public image as a new mom, we see Jessica’s character approach a variety of ‘everyday’ circumstances that will get audiences laughing out loud.”
Added Simpson: “I am so excited to work with Ben and NBC again, this time on a scripted comedy. I often find myself thinking that no one could ever make up the things that actually happen in my life, so between the real-life elements and a great team of writers, I think we’ll have people laughing.”
Simpson’s life largely has been spent in the public eye, auditioning (unsuccessfully) for The Mickey Mouse Club at age 12 and later signing with Tommy Mottola and Columbia Records at 16. At 19, her first studio album reached No. 25 on the Billboard 200 as the label helped market the singer using her “virgin” appeal with Simpson publicly stating that she would remain abstinent until marriage.
The singer’s marriage to former 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey was documented in MTV’s Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, which ran for three seasons on the network (they later divorced). Since then, Simpson ha’s released a handful of albums and appeared on several TV specials and in 2010 landed Jessica Simpson’s The Price of Beauty and in 2012 became one of the mentors on NBC/Electus’ Fashion Star.
NBC’s semi-autobiographical entry marks Simpson’s second attempt at scripted comedy. In 2004, ABC ordered a pilot titled Jessica, which starred the singer-actress as a pop star-turned-TV news anchor, but it was not picked up to series.
Simpson’s new vehicle marks the latest semi-autobiographical project set up this development season. Thus far, efforts from Adam F. Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan and Joe Port/Joe Wiseman already landed pilot orders at ABC, CBS and NBC, respectively.
For Electus, the project marks the latest high-profile project. The Silverman-fronted producer also has projects including the NBC summer unscripted series Get Out Alive, starring Bear Grylls; TNT’s unscripted entry The Hero, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; and CMT’s new show with former Dog the Bounty Hunter star Duane Chapman. The second season of its Fashion Star, with mentors/fashion designers Simpson, Nicole Richie and designer John Varvatos, premieres March 8.
Simpson’s acting credits include the features Employee of the Month and The Dukes of Hazzard and small-screen appearances on Entourage and That 70’s Show.
Weight Watchers spokeswoman Simpson, who is expecting her second child with fiance Eric Johnson, is repped by her father, and law firm Myman Abel. Nick Bakay, whose credits also include The King of Queens and a leading voice role in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, is with APA, CESD and Morris Yorn.
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