As the drama surrounding Paris Hilton's and Nicole Richie's lives reaches a fever pitch offscreen, their shared onscreen dilemmas have become all but obsolete.
E! has opted not to renew The Simple Life, announcing Monday that the finale of the show's latest season, The Simple Life Goes to Camp, will also mark the end of the shenanigan-laced series with the two celebutantes. (E! Online is a division of E! Networks.)
"The Simple Life has been a wonderful addition to the E! Schedule for two years and we will always be grateful to Paris and Nicole for their hard work and graciousness," E! said in a statement.
The news comes as the longtime pals have faced their own legal woes.
Hilton is now entering her sixth week as a free woman, after serving 23 days behind bars for violating probation on an alcohol-related reckless driving charge. The heiress has rebranded herself as a changed woman, volunteering at children's hospitals and making as many appearances at charitable functions as at the Hollywood clubs—which, it must be said, she has not completely forsaken.
Richie, meanwhile, is smack in the middle of her own legal nightmare, having pleaded guilty last Friday to driving under the influence of drugs following a wrong-way trip on a Los Angeles freeway last December. She was sentenced to 96 hours in jail, three years' probation, alcohol-education classes and fines.
Richie has until Sept. 28 to serve her time. By then, it should be known definitively whether the 25-year-old is expecting her first child with Good Charlotte boyfriend and courtroom stalwart Joel Madden. Richie has not publicly confirmed rampant reports of her pregnancy, which show no signs of abating as she continues to make public appearances in excessively baggy clothes or covered by a body pillow.
In comparison, the biggest scrape the girls found themselves in during The Simple Life Goes to Camp was attempting to hide the contents of a fat camp's refrigerator.
While E! has pulled the plug on The Simple Life, series producer Twentieth Century Fox refuses to say the franchise is a goner. The company is apparently holding out hope another network may pick it up for another go-round, in the same way E! did in 2005 after Fox dropped the show. However, any new incarnation would not feature Hilton and Richie.
Conceived as a fish-out-of-water "reality sitcom," The Simple Life debuted in 2003 and was an instant hit, establishing its stars as bona fide Hollywood players. The first season featured Hilton and Richie as inept farmhands in Arkansas.
The second season, subtitled Road Trip, featured the two pals on an RV, tooling around the country to jobs on a ranch, nudist colony and, ironically enough, as deputy sheriffs working in a jail. That was followed by Interns, in which they traveled by Greyhound bus to various internships, including at a mortuary, fire station and zoo.
Faced with declining ratings and growing behind-the-scenes tension between Hilton and Richie, Fox canceled the show in 2005; a month later, E! announced plans to air a fourth, 10-episode season, 'Til Death Do Us Part.
The season was an exercise in editing as much as programming. By the season's start, Richie and Hilton were in a full-blown public feud, refusing to appear in scenes with each other. Despite specuation that Hilton party sidekick Kimberly Stewart might replace Richie in the show, execs opted to head into production with Hilton and Richie performing their scenes solo.
In October 2006, they called a truce in time to begin production on the current season of The Simple Life.
But the season wasn't without its hiccups. Aside from their various legal melodramas, Richie was briefly hospitalized in March for dehydration, after falling ill on the set.
On the series-ending installment of the reality show, airing Sunday, the duo will be at drama camp, enlisting the help of celebrity counselor Sally Kirkland. After casting and rehearsing an original production, the trio costars in a performance, with Kirkland taking on the role of Richie papa Lionel.
Perhaps the experience inspired Hilton, who just confirmed she has begun rehearsals for Repo! The Genetic Opera, a musical thriller that begins filming next month in Toronto. After that, she's due to begin work on her sophomore album.