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    "Newlyweds" Nick Goes Solo

    Nick Lachey's getting out of the house.

    Jessica Simpson's terribly patient hubby, who watched his terribly blonde spouse blossom into a multimedia maven, will exercise his own star muscle, snagging a role in an ABC sitcom pilot, the trade papers report.

    The could-be show stars Bound bod Gina Gershon as the titular smoking maternal unit who vexes her more uptight teen daughter. For now, the show's called Hot Mom, presumably because Gilmore Girls was taken.

    Lachey will play the Gershon brood's boarder who's also a struggling actor.

    The series is not a lock for fall. But both Lachey and Simpson have a history--a good one--with ABC.

    Last fall, the Mrs. inked a solo sitcom deal with the Alphabet net. (The show's currently in development.) And on April 11, the two will make like Sonny and Cher and headline their own ABC variety hour, titled appropriately enough The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour.

    The Lacheys just wrapped the second season of their MTV reality series. A new season is set to debut in June.

    Simpson has been the breakout star of Newlyweds, parlaying her inability to cope with simple household tasks, concepts or meals into a hit album (In This Skin), a Super Bowl ad for Pizza Hut, a photo op at Chicken of the Sea headquarters, a personal-product line, and feature-film possibilities, including a Dukes of Hazzard project that once was viewed as a perfect fit for pop rival Britney Spears.

    Lachey, meanwhile, has done a guest spot on I'm with Her, the little-watched ABC sitcom about a regular guy living with a super-famous wife.

    The 30-year-old former boybander also released a solo album (actually named SoulO) that nobody bought, and pretended to be Tom Jones for the purposes of a February episode of American Dreams.

    In a recent People magazine, Lachey appeared to be ready to branch out, talking up the possibility of a some-day run for mayor of Cincinnati, where he grew up. The job, once held by TV talker Jerry Springer, "would be an interesting role to play," he said.

    A couple of other actors finding interesting, or at least paying, roles to play this TV pilot season are Jenny McCarthy and The Sopranos' Drea de Matteo.

    The trade papers say McCarthy, sort of the Jessica Simpson of her day on MTV's Singled Out, has been tapped to headline The Bad Girl's Guide, a possible sitcom for UPN, while De Matteo has won the plum job of Joey Tribbiani's sister on NBC's Friends spinoff, Joey.

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