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The Next Episode in Their MTV Romance

Singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey give viewers a glimpse inside their first year of married life in 'Newlyweds.'

August 17, 2003|Jacqueline Cutler | Special to The Times

The first year of marriage is typically fraught with moments of discovery.

She learns, perhaps when a check bounces, that he has never written in a checkbook register. He learns that she considers a quick chat with her best friend to be anything under an hour. It's that first year when they learn how to live together as a couple.

Of course, most folks do that privately. Some celebrities, however, have conducted so much of their lives in the public eye it seems natural for them to continue.

Singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have an unusually public love affair. Their courtship, breakup and reconciliation were well documented. And their wedding was part of an NBC special in January about celebrity weddings.

So what's left? Well, the marriage, and for a day-to-day chronicle of their new life, tune in to MTV's "Newlyweds," kicking off Tuesday.

The singers, who wed in October, say they remain very much in love, and their easy affections with each other make this seem more genuine than some celeb pairings. There are cameras following the couple, but Lachey says they drew the line at the bedroom and the bathroom.

Aside from that, is anything taboo?

"I guess the only thing that would be private is anything negative we have to say about another celebrity," Simpson says. "Unless we have a couple of glasses of wine, and then we are in trouble. I have bit my tongue a couple of times."

Simpson acknowledges that she is "not going to have any enemies over it."

The only footage MTV made available for this story was a six-minute clip showing the couple in their natural habitat. Some of this was video from the wedding, showing a beautiful bride in a Vera Wang gown and a smitten groom as they kiss.

Simpson wrote, "I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding," a book about planning her wedding, for which she has done considerable promotion. Now the couple is promoting their individual albums, both of which are scheduled to be released the same day the MTV show debuts. His, "SoulO," marks his first effort without pop group 98 Degrees; hers, her third, is "In This Skin."

Given this vast amount of publicity, why would they want more?

"Nick and I just talked about it and immediately said yes," Simpson says from a Hollywood hotel room before a news conference. "The power of MTV is unbelievable. And it is great for our careers because of the publicity that we will be getting. And Nick and I are good people. There wasn't going to be anything we had to hide that would ruin our careers. Nick and I are a great example of true love. My whole career I have tried to be a positive role model for young girls and for brides. People really expect celebrity marriages to fail. This is a great way to point out that we are completely in love, and you won't hear any rumors."

Simpson had declared her intention to remain a virgin until her wedding night, and so she became a bride who could wear white in the most traditional sense. "And it really meant something," she says of sex. "That's a great adjustment for us, and it's a different world, and it takes you to a different level of love. And we love each other passionately, and that gave us something to look forward to." She stops herself there and giggles.

Naturally, since they have yet to celebrate their first anniversary, they are still at the stage where each finds the other's household foibles cute.

Simpson admits she is sloppy and that her husband is neat. "The towel comes off my body and stays on the floor," she says. "I have always been taken care of my whole life. My mom always cleaned up after me and made our beds. She is a supermom. Then I lived by myself, and I hired a housekeeper to come in three times a week and do laundry and pick up after me."

She describes Lachey as "taking on the woman role and I take on the sloppy male role. He has done laundry since third grade and even irons his undershirts." It wasn't until the couple went on "Oprah" that Simpson and Winfrey persuaded him to hire a maid for their home, Simpson says.

When Lachey got on the phone, he downplayed that he needed cajoling. "Jessica gives me a bad rap," he says. "I had no problem [with a maid]. I just didn't want a complete stranger in my home."

Having been in the spotlight since 98 Degrees began playing to squealing teens in the summer of '97, Lachey says he is accustomed to fame. "We have been in the spotlight, but never to the degree it is now, with your life constantly being taped," he says. "It is not nearly as intrusive as I expected it would be. You kind of get used to them being there. I forget they are even there."

In the MTV clip, they are shown doing what many couples do: lounging on the couch, watching the tube and eating. There is one exchange in which she says, "Is this chicken or is this fish? I know it's tuna but it says Chicken of the Sea." Lachey looks at her as if her spaceship just landed. "Chicken of the Sea is a brand," he explains evenly.

In another scene, viewers learn Simpson can belch like a foghorn. On another day, she watches him watching young women audition for his video.

In yet another scene, this time on a boat, their sculpted bodies embrace, with the blue sea as a background, picturesque enough for a Polo ad. Simpson acknowledges she definitely wants children, and one can imagine how attractive the offspring will be. That, however, will likely be another installment in the video library of their lives.

"Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica" premieres at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Jacqueline Cutler writes for Tribune Media Services.

Cover photograph by MTV.

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