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    Jessica Learns Her ABC

    Any naysayers doubting the validity of the statement "blondes have more fun" should know that it has officially been proven true.

    However, it has been modified to "dumb blondes have more fun."

    Want proof? We give you Ms. Chicken of the Sea herself, Jessica Simpson, who has just been tapped to develop a new comedy with ABC.

    The huge success of Jessica and hubby Nick Lachey's MTV reality show, Newlyweds, expelled the pop star from the ranks of Britney wannabe and propelled her to new heights of stardom.

    "Everyone was always like, 'Who's Jessica Simpson? Oh, she's like Britney or Christina,' " the toothy-grinned songstress babbled in her recent Rolling Stone cover story. "It was so hard on me. Plus, I never had my own thing happening, so I felt like I had to do what they did, like, I had to show my stomach and dance. But that's not me."

    No, the Jessica we've all come to know and love (to ridicule) is someone else entirely. She's whiny, needy, incapable of accomplishing even the most simple of tasks on her own--yet she's undeniably funny.

    Whether we're laughing with her or at her doesn't really matter. When the Barbie-faced beauty makes innocent mistakes about the food on her plate, mistaking tuna for chicken and chicken for buffalo, it makes us feel better about ourselves. And ABC, for one, is not going to miss out on an opportunity to keep a good thing going.

    "Jessica has infectious energy and unmistakable star quality," said Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment. "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."

    Joe Simpson, Jessica's father and manager, is attached as co-executive producer of the project, which he sees as a boon for the product of his loins.

    "This deal is a great and logical next step for Jessica and the evolution of her career," Daddy Simpson said. "We're very happy to consider ABC part of our professional family, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with the network."

    The vacuous vixen is currently shooting the second season of Newlyweds with Lachey. She's also touring in support of her third album, In This Skin, which debuted at number 10 on Billboard's Top 200 list but slid quickly down the charts.

    Last month, Jessica signed a licensing deal with Signatures Network, Inc., and will soon be lending her name and image to everything from perfume to postcards, and yes, maybe even tuna.

    Jessica's not the only pretty young thing inking a network TV deal this week. Sixteen-year-old actor-singer Hilary Duff has signed a comedy pilot deal with CBS.

    Duff, former star of the Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire and the movie of the same name, is already a hot commodity with the preteen set; CBS will seek to increase her appeal with those of us old enough to drive.

    Apparently, Duff was a much sought-after talent after Lizzie McGuire wrapped production, with both NBC and Fox seeking to reel her in, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    The Tween Queen's upcoming vehicle will most likely be a domestic comedy, launching in the 2004-05 season. Her mother, Susan Duff, will executive produce.

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