So: Will Diana Ross be appearing on reality TV? What about Tracee? Mr. Ross would not say for sure. The show is currently being edited, and, he joked, some people “might not make the cut.”
“My mom and dad are definitely on it,” Ms. Simpson said cheerfully.
Ms. Simpson’s parents were heavily involved in her first show, which premiered on MTV on June 16, 2004. Her father was an executive producer, and her mother, Tina Simpson, made frequent appearances to teach her daughter the important lessons of adulthood, like how to use a mop. The show aired in the time slot directly following “Newlyweds,” and each sister regularly appeared on the other’s program.
Though “The Ashlee Simpson Show” was launched as a follow-up to the successful “Newlyweds,” it mostly served to establish Ashlee as a distinct character from Jessica, who at the time was famous for proclaiming to be a virgin before her wedding day and for her lovably ditsy struggle to embrace domestic life. (“Is this chicken what I have, or is this fish?” she famously remarked on “Newlyweds,” in reference to a can of Chicken of the Sea tuna.)
During the first season of her show, Ashlee dyed her hair dark brown, made out with boys (including Mr. Cabrera, who happened to be a client of Mr. Simpson’s, too) and scrawled pop-punk songs about “living in the shadow” of her sister in her notebook. During a recording-studio scene in which she “wrote” a song about growing up with Jessica, she described the concept to her older, schlubby male producer: “I’ve been wanting to write a song about being in the shadow, and I always felt like I was sort of like stuck in the shadow, but I think it’d be cool if it was like, coming out of the shadow, don’t you think?”
“Right,” said the producer, strumming an acoustic guitar and staring into the middle distance.
The program was both a successful vehicle for Ms. Simpson — many of her songs featured on the show, “Shadow” included, made their way to the Billboard Hot 100 — and a brilliant display of the silliness involved in star-making. In another scene, Ms. Simpson went to visit Geffen Records’ then-president Jordan Schur along with her ever-present dad, Joe. Discouraged by the slow progress of making her album, Ashlee, wearing a bright aqua tank top, slunk into an oversized arm chair in Schur’s office. Mr. Schur reminded her of his vision for her music in baldly comical record-executive-speak. “I feel you’re one part pop, one part rock, and then you’re one part Ashlee,” he said. “I mean, there’s something very unique about you.”
“The Ashlee Simpson Show” also brought viewers behind the scenes of dramatic events in Ms. Simpson’s life, like the “Saturday Night Live” lip-syncing incident. In the fall of 2004, she appeared on the late-night show to perform two hits from her first album. She played the first song, “Pieces of Me,” without a hitch, but when she returned the stage to perform the second, a backing track of her singing “Pieces of Me” rang out, while she held the mic by her side. Panicked, Ms. Simpson danced awkwardly for a few seconds (she later described it as a “hoedown”) and ran off the stage. NBC quickly cut to a commercial, but the damage was done: News outlets replayed the embarrassing moment for days.