Lachey, Simpson Start Acting Special

updated 03/23/2004 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 03/23/2004 12:54PM

With some wags already likening them to the vaunted Sonny and Cher, "Newlyweds" stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are preparing for their own one-hour, one-shot variety show to air on April 11, to be called -- quite obviously -- "The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour."

Lachey, 30, and Simpson, 23, hosted "Saturday Night Live" this season, which allowed them to strut their stuff in scripted sketches in addition to songs.

For their primetime ABC special, they will host such guests as Jewel, Babyface, Kenny Rogers, Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench (Lachey's Cincinnati hometown hero) and such vintage '70s TV names as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Mr. T, according to published reports.

Lachey and Babyface will perform a duet of Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life," and Simpson and Jewel will sing "Who Will Save Your Soul," reports the Associated Press.

MTV News reports that the special will be produced by Jessica's father, Joe Simpson, who also produces "Newlyweds," and Joel Gallen, a veteran MTV Movie Awards producer whose credits also include several Super Bowl halftime shows.

Besides the special, both Lachey and Simpson are developing sitcoms for ABC.

And in other eye-catching TV news, Tuesday brings the finale of UPN's highly rated "America's Next Top Model 2," with the finalists Yoanna House, 23, a babysitter from Jacksonville, Fla., Mercedes Scelba-Shorte, 21, a waitress from Valencia, Calif.; and Shandi Sullivan, 21, a drug-store clerk from Kansas City, Mo.

The winner, decided by show producer-judge Tyra Banks and others, will land a modeling contract.

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