E! Breathes Life Into Simple Life

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Paris and Nicole are moving to cable. The new season of their Bunim-Murray-produced reality show, The Simple Life, will run on E! Entertainment Television.

Fox premiered the series in December 2003. It followed with Simple Life: Road Trip in June 2004 and Simple Life: Interns in January 2005.
Ten new half-hour episodes of The Simple Life: Till Death Do Us Part will premiere on E! in spring 2006. The series will take on a homemaking theme for its new batch of episodes, with celebrity co-stars Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie taking turns as stand-in wives and mothers for families to determine which is best at performing the matrimonial duties.

Beginning in January 2006, E! will also be able to re-run The Simple Life’s first three installments, picking up the rights to its 36-episode library from Twentieth Century Fox Television.

E! made a move for The Simple Life’s library about a year ago, and has been positioning itself as a home for new episodes since Fox decided not to pick up a new season, said E! Networks President & CEO Ted Harbert. The network will likely strip rerun episodes in one or multiple time slots on its schedule. New episodes will anchor a night in prime, either at 10 p.m., when E! usually premieres its bigger shows, or at 9 p.m. to tap into Simple’s younger fan base, Harbert said.The show’s star factor makes it a logical match for E!, as the network’s executives have concentrated on solidifying their brand’s celebrity focus recently; that could explain why the show did not end up on Fox’s own cable network for reality programming, the nascent Fox Reality channel.

The series’ future has been in doubt for the past several months as celebrity glossies have covered a falling out between Hilton and Richie, and speculated as to whether they would collaborate on a new season of their show.

In a recent appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live, Richie said she and Hilton were scheduled to begin filming season three, although they do not speak. (Richie has also published a book of fiction loosely based on her life and celebrity “friends.”

New episodes are currently in production under Bunim-Murray. Hilton and Richie will tape their visits to the LA-area homes separately, and each episode will feature coverage of both.

“We’re not going to cheat this and suggest they’re together when they’re not,” Harbert said. “Through the magic of editing, the comedy will come out.”

E! averaged 398,000 total viewers during prime in October, down 1% from last year.

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