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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Ashlee Simpson

Aired October 22, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(MUSIC)
RYAN SEACREST, HOST: Tonight, Ashlee Simpson. Singer, actress, superstar at age 21. Oh, and by the way, she's Jessica Simpson's younger sister, too. We will cover it all: the tabloids, surviving her "Saturday Night Live" lip-synch scandal, sister Jessica, and much more, with Ashlee Simpson, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. It's Ryan Seacrest in for Larry King, tonight. Let's start off with our first guest of the evening, the 21-year-old Ashlee Simpson.

Good to see you.

ASHLEE SIMPSON, ENTERTAINER: Good to see you.

SEACREST: And happy belated birthday.

A. SIMPSON: Thank you. I'm 21.

SEACREST: How does it feel? Do you feel different?

A. SIMPSON: A little bit, because now I can go to dinner and order a glass of wine. So I feel like an adult sometimes.

SEACREST: You're dressing like an adult, too.

A. SIMPSON: Yes, some days.

SEACREST: You changed your hair color?

A. SIMPSON: I did. Now I'm blonde.

SEACREST: Yes, is that what happens when you get older? You're supposed to change the color of it? Because mine will change naturally as I get older.

Let's start off tonight with a sensitive subject. This is about a year ago, probably the most difficult night in your professional career on "Saturday Night Live." For those who don't know, basically, you were performing and a track played of a different song. And then, the report came out the next day, "Ashlee Simpson lip syncs."

A. SIMPSON: Right.

SEACREST: What did happen that night? A. SIMPSON: Oh boy, that night. Yes, actually, it was cool, because I just went back on "SNL," so I totally did kind of reminisce that whole experience. I lost my voice, and I was a new artist, and I'd never actually had to do something like that before, but I did use the track.

And we never rehearsed it or anything, and the wrong button was pressed. And it was my fault for losing my voice and not taking care of myself. But the button was pressed, and the wrong song was played.

SEACREST: And at that moment, you're on live television. Most people just panic.

A. SIMPSON: Right.

SEACREST: What went through your mind in that instance?

A. SIMPSON: I don't think I knew what to do. And I guess I decided to do the hoedown. And it's just like an embarrassing moment where I watch myself and I'm like, "Oh, I did the hoedown?" I was just so nervous, I didn't know what to do, and I was just like, "Do I just keep on going?" It was really, really embarrassing.

SEACREST: And so you come off stage, and who's the first person that you see? And what did they say to you?

A. SIMPSON: I came offstage, and just seeing everybody's face, everybody was like, "Oh my." So I just went to the bathroom and cried for a second. I saw my mom and dad, and I was like, "Hold on one second. I'm going to cry." I just kind of cried for a second, and my dad was like, "OK, baby, pull yourself together. You have to put your head up and go back out there."

SEACREST: Were you surprised that -- I mean, obviously, when something like that happens with a star, it's going to be played out in the media. Were you surprised that it continued to replay, that clip, over and over again. I mean, weeks later, months later, and still now, you're promoting this new album and we're talking about it.

A. SIMPSON: Right. I really was surprised. I mean, I knew that people were going to talk about it. I knew that people were going to talk about it, I knew it was embarrassing, and I knew it was a big deal. But did I think that it was going to be this thing that followed me for, you know, the next years to come? I guarantee you, 25 years from now, I'll be known as the girl that lip synced on "SNL." But, you know, it was a weird thing. Not fun.

SEACREST: So you get through that. Then you're out in public again at the Orange Bowl, and another night that's, I guess you'd say, not fun.

A. SIMPSON: Yes, exactly.

SEACREST: What happened that afternoon?

A. SIMPSON: That afternoon, actually, everything was good, going fine. I'd never performed in a stadium before, either. I don't really -- you know, the whole halftime show itself, and I was the last one, and maybe all the boos were at me.

SEACREST: Because when you're watching at home, you see Ashlee Simpson come out and you hear boos.

A. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: You know, I thought, "Oh, gosh." You feel bad at that point. You're like, "Is she going to go through this again?"

A. SIMPSON: It was awful. You know, actually what did happen though was all of the monitors went out. And if you watch the show, none of us sounded good. None of us had it. I heard Kelly Clarkson singing, and all of a sudden, it's like crackling in my ears. And it happened to hear, it happened to -- all our ears were like (inaudible). I was like, "Oh, no. Here we go."

SEACREST: Was there ever a point, after all this happened to you, that you thought, "OK, I've had it. I just want to give up. I just want to run away and I want to give up with this singing career."

A. SIMPSON: Well, I mean, again, after the Orange Bowl, I went to my room, dropped to the floor, and started crying again. But there's something in me, and knowing, like, I had my family, and I really love doing what I do, that, like, picks myself up. And it's kind of, if anything, been good for me that I went through those things, because I feel stronger as an artist now. I don't feel like I want to give up. There's moments where I want to break down and cry, but not give up.

SEACREST: Well, many artists who have huge singles and albums have lived through some serious tragedies in order to come up with those compelling lyrics. I mean, clearly, this now, this instance, has become the inspiration, the catalyst, to your new CD. Talk about writing some of these songs and having to relive all of that, and why you wanted to share the experience all over again through your songs.

A. SIMPSON: Well, it was actually great to write about it, because writing for me is like a release. It's like, you know, I'm writing my songs, but it's like my journal, my diary. And that was something this year that was the hardest thing that I went through this year.

And I wrote this song on my record called, "Catch My Fall," and that's, you know, a pretty weak song. And usually when I write, I, like, write with some sort of strength, like I want to get out of this situation. And that song, you know, the lyrics are pretty weak and pretty sad because I was weak and sad at moments.

But I also wrote songs about overcoming it and about, you know, getting myself together and finding my, like, inner strength, which is cool because it's kind of helped me come into my own as an adult. Well, kind of an adult.

SEACREST: You're an adult. You're responsible for your actions. A. SIMPSON: Exactly.

SEACREST: What would the album have been about if this hadn't happened to you? Because this is called "I Am Me." "I Am Me."

A. SIMPSON: Yes, exactly. You know, it is love songs and stuff like that on there, so it probably would have been more so about, and whatever life experiences I ended up go through if I didn't go through that.

SEACREST: Well, you have a sister that's been successful in music, and she's been through a lot. Did you call on her for advice? Did you lean on her? And was she supportive? What did she say?

A. SIMPSON: She's a doll. I mean, Orange Bowl, she was there. And she was like, "Baby, you did good. You worked through it, even though you couldn't hear and whatever." And she's -- you know, I've seen her go through it, and people one day love her and the next day, you know, they turn their backs on her, or whatever. And she is such a positive role model. So, yes, she's definitely helped me get through it.

SEACREST: I know you sing live. I've seen you perform many times. You performed for me for the radio show that we do. A lot of artists are accused of lip syncing. How common is it? For somebody who's not in the business, are many of the artists on the charts faking it?

A. SIMPSON: No, I mean, I think there's definitely times when somebody might lose their voice and have to do that. And maybe in the middle of their show, they do. But, yes, there's a lot of artists that I think you would be surprised that have done that or do that.

SEACREST: Do you want to name any names?

A. SIMPSON: No, absolutely not. But I can promise you and guarantee you, after that situation, you will never hear me do that.

SEACREST: But you went back on "SNL," as you said. You wanted to go back and face your fears. What was that night like? It just happened, you get back on that stage. What were people saying before you went out live in front of the audience?

A. SIMPSON: It was actually amazing. Everybody was just, like, so loving and so supportive. And when I went, you know, everybody at "SNL," they were just like, "Go do it." So, before I went on stage, I definitely had the butterflies and everything, but I feel like I went through so much this year that I had to have that confidence that time. I had to really, you know, be like, "Here I am. I get the second chance to do this again." And, you know, we all fall on our face, and it's OK to be a failure, but I got the second chance to stand up there and...

SEACREST: A story of overcoming.

A. SIMPSON: Yes, exactly. SEACREST: And did you approach them, or did they want you to come back? How did that come together?

A. SIMPSON: I had been wanting to do it, you know, since my last incident. But they approached me to do it that week, so I was so excited it when I heard it.

SEACREST: How did you prepare differently?

A. SIMPSON: I tried to keep calm. I was just like, "OK." And I didn't take the star room. They have like a star room where -- it's like the cool green room. I was like, "I want something that does not look nice. Like another day on the road." You know, just something to make me feel really calm. And I had my family and my band.

SEACREST: So the next day, you woke up, and you felt like, "OK, I did it. It's hopefully over."

A. SIMPSON: Yes, after the first song. I mean, if you see it, I sing my first song, and I'm like, "I did it!" like a little kid. But it just felt so good. Right after that I felt really nice. Like, finally!

SEACREST: She sings, she acts, she does it all. And we'll be right back. More with Ashlee Simpson after the break. Stay with us.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: We're back with Ashlee Simpson, singer, actress, sister of Jessica. The album is called "I Am Me," which is in stories now. "Autobiography" was the first one.

How is this different? For your fans who have listened to the first album, how is this different?

A. SIMPSON: Well, you know, obviously, I've been through different life experiences. But I went back and I worked with the producer I worked with on the first record, John Shanks. He's a dear friend.

SEACREST: He's pretty famous in the producing world, isn't he?

A. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: Who has he worked with?

A. SIMPSON: Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge.

SEACREST: Well known artists.

A. SIMPSON: Yes, really, really great artists. And, you know, there's just something comforting about him. I can go in there and talk about everything, and we just, you know, have a really good process. But the record, you know, it's obviously about the situations that I've gone through that are a little different. But musically, too, we tried new sounds and whatnot. There are some songs on there -- I have a song called "Burning Up," and I actually tried to do something a little different. But you can hear, also, musically where I'm grilling and trying to change and whatnot.

SEACREST: Do you feel like you have to counter-program Jessica because you're competing for the same spots on the charts, Ashlee? And now, you have both have blonde hair. Do you feel like you have to be different? I mean, I know you are.

A. SIMPSON: No, I don't. Actually, when it comes to music, hearing melodies and all that kind of stuff, we have really different ideas and different sounds. So I'm never concerned, really, about our music going up against each other.

SEACREST: I have to ask you about a song that, by the way, is very popular right now. It's getting a lot of airplay on the radio around the country. I play it every morning on KIIS-FM here in Los Angeles. It's called "Boyfriend."

A. SIMPSON: Right.

SEACREST: There are rumors that this song has to do with Lindsay Lohan and Wilmer Valderrama.

A. SIMPSON: Right.

SEACREST: All right, two very famous people in the class of Hollywood. What can you tell us about the song and about its association with those people?

A. SIMPSON: The song is basically the whole idea of, like, "I didn't steal your boyfriend." And it's very junior high, high school, college, and whatnot, the situation. And it's me kind of making fun of something I went through. As far as saying who the song I wrote it about, or whatever, I'm not doing that with this record because I don't have the reality show.

SEACREST: But this could be your reality show today.

A. SIMPSON: That's to your imagination.

SEACREST: But when you hear the song, is there anybody that you picture, specifically? Like when you say, "I didn't steal your boyfriend," who would you picture in your head? I know who I picture.

A. SIMPSON: I mean, honestly, it's just more of like me saying something to, you know...

SEACREST: Are you nervous that that song becomes more and more popular, and somebody might react to it, or might say something about it, or say something to the press to the song and try and stir the fire a little bit, if you will?

A. SIMPSON: No, I mean, I think that it's not about anyone in particular. It's a situation we've all gone through. SEACREST: You grin every time you say that. And then you look up.

A. SIMPSON: Well, I'll just keep grinning and looking up. But, you know, no, I'm not nervous about that. When I write, I write to have fun. And that song is really kind of poking fun of the situation.

SEACREST: Well, let's -- because these albums are very personal, let's talk about your personal life for a second. You've obviously been with Ryan Cabrera, you guys dated, you guys are friends. You guys are not together anymore, right?

A. SIMPSON: No.

SEACREST: What about with Wilmer? You dated him too, didn't you?

A. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: And are you with him?

A. SIMPSON: No.

SEACREST: All right. Well, what's your status? There are a lot of people that want to know.

A. SIMPSON: I'm single. Honestly, I've been on the road and traveling a lot, and I haven't really, you know, had the time to date anybody or anything. Well, I just haven't met anybody special.

SEACREST: What sort of person do you look for?

A. SIMPSON: I think that's the thing. I don't want to date a celebrity. I want to date a normal person. So I'm looking for a normal person.

SEACREST: Well, let's talk about that. Why do you think that celebrities end up together? I mean, they date, they get married, many times, most often, they get divorced sooner rather than later. Why is it such a difficult thing to do? I mean, they're just people like everybody else. Why is it so tough for them?

A. SIMPSON: I think celebrities, you know -- I think they're seen, like, at the same parties, and they all hang out, and have this group of friends and that group of friends. And then they end up, you know, dating. You're in the same world. I think that it's hard for people to last because everybody's watching you, and I think that that just happens.

SEACREST: Do you pay attention to what the media says? It's impossible to avoid it. You can't say you don't see or hear about it because it's just impossible, and there's so many celebrity magazines out. I mean the "US Weekly," "People," the OK magazines of the world. They put out pictures and they look -- there are practically no words anymore. It's almost all pictures. A. SIMPSON: Right. Yes, which is why you can't believe what you read. You see pictures, but you can -- you know, I can take a picture with anybody and you could make a story of that.

SEACREST: Do you react? Do you get frustrated?

A. SIMPSON: You know, I get frustrated when it's something that's untrue. I was like, "Oh, why would they write that?" But really, you know, now with my family, we're like learning to not look at the magazines.

SEACREST: Well, you're all over them. Your family, you're all over them. Joe Simpson is going to be here in a little bit, and we'll talk to how he deals with that. I mean, here's your dad, who is also your manager. That's an interesting duo, couple of roles.

A. SIMPSON: It is.

SEACREST: How does he separate the two roles? And how is the line not crossed? Because he's clearly going to be extra passionate about his daughters as a manager.

A. SIMPSON: Well, actually, he does a great job at that, being able to stand there and be my manager, and be Mr. Tough Guy, which is sometimes funny, to see my dad doing that, because then he'll hang up and be like, "Hi, baby. How are you?" You know, so sweet and loving as my father, but can turn it on, too, which is great.

SEACREST: So there's total trust there?

A. SIMPSON: Absolutely.

SEACREST: Yes, and how much of Joe's idea and Joe's take on things is part of what has come out on your albums and part of who you are? I know that he's extremely caring, loving, but he's also pretty headstrong, and he has an opinion about everything.

A. SIMPSON: Oh, absolutely.

SEACREST: And he knows how this business works. How much of your success is his strategy?

A. SIMPSON: You know, I do what I do. I'm an artist, and I go in the studio and make my music. And then I'll give it to my dad and he does what he does. And he does, you know, the press, and figuring out shows and whatnot. When it comes to my artistic freedom, he doesn't, like, step on my toes or anything.

You'll hear him say, probably, later that I don't like that. So he definitely, you know, doesn't have anything to do with the artistic side unless I go to him and say, "Dad, you know, can you help me with this?" Because he is really smart and intelligent and has great ideas.

SEACREST: Yes, he's been highlighting his hair like you, too. We're going to see in just a few. More with Ashlee Simpson when we come back. Stay with us.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: Welcome back, my name is Ryan Seacrest, in for Larry King, tonight. Our first guest, Ashlee Simpson, is with us, who is not only a singer, but an actress. Her album, "I Am Me," in stores now.

Let's talk about the acting for a second. You played Cecilia on TV's "7th Heaven," and played Clea in the 2005 film "Undiscovered." Are you going to pursue more movies and television roles?

A. SIMPSON: I would love to. I love acting. Whenever I first moved to L.A., I wanted to be an actress. And, you know, I went on all the auditions and whatnot. So doing "7th Heaven" was great, and being on a TV show. And the movie was a fun learning process, so hopefully, you know, in the near future, I'll go back to that.

SEACREST: How do you balance it, though? That's what's interesting. I know we were talking before we went on the air about the touring and the promo and the fact that you have several different careers, you're wearing all the hats of being a musician and also an actress. How do you find time to balance it and focus and be good at it?

A. SIMPSON: It's actually nice because I'll do my album, I'll focus on that, I'll go on tour, and really put my all into that. But sometimes it's nice to take a break and go do something else that I love as well, because you put yourself in a different headset and you really, you know, get focused on acting.

I don't like to do both of them at the same time, but to be able to switch is great, because then it's like -- when I'm done with the movie, I'm like, "Oh, I miss being on tour," you know?

SEACREST: Yes, it's like having a whole different life, right?

A. SIMPSON: It kind of keeps everything fresh, yes.

SEACREST: And you had some fun in Las Vegas. I saw the reports. You did a 21st birthday celebration that was also an MTV special?

A. SIMPSON: Right, yes.

SEACREST: All right, so what happened that the -- was it the Hard Rock Cafe? Where were you?

A. SIMPSON: We were at the...

SEACREST: One of the hotels, right?

A. SIMPSON: Which hotel were we at?

SEACREST: It was such a good night, you can't remember which hotel you were at.

A. SIMPSON: I don't know. Caesar's!

SEACREST: It was Caesar's. Thanks, Joe. Wait your turn, please. So you were at Caesar's?

A. SIMPSON: Caesar's, yes.

SEACREST: So tell us about the night you went there.

A. SIMPSON: I'm not a big Vegas person, but Caesar's was...

SEACREST: Well, you weren't because you weren't 21, but now you will be.

A. SIMPSON: Maybe I will be now. It was a blast, though. I actually performed on my birthday, which was fun.

SEACREST: You had to work a little bit.

A. SIMPSON: It wasn't working too hard. I mean, it was fun, actually, because I wasn't allowed to be in a club, I wasn't allowed to do anything until 12:00.

SEACREST: Well of course, Ashlee. It was your first time seeing a bar and what a beer looks like.

A. SIMPSON: I had two big guys following me everywhere to make sure that I did not go anywhere until 12:00.

SEACREST: Who was on the guest list that night?

A. SIMPSON: Who all came that night? Just a bunch of my close friends. I didn't do anything, you know -- I don't like those parties that are big celebrity parties. Just my close friends.

SEACREST: But tell me about the gift your sister gave you.

A. SIMPSON: It was pretty amazing. She got me a Rolex watch. It's chrome heart and it has diamonds on it.

SEACREST: Estimated value would be a lot, right?

A. SIMPSON: A lot.

SEACREST: OK. Let's try and have some fun with a little word association. Wouldn't you say that the circle you're in is pretty small? I mean, Hollywood is a small town.

A. SIMPSON: Absolutely.

SEACREST: I'm going to throw out some people that you may or may not run into on a regular basis, and just whatever word pops into your mind first, throw out, OK?

A. SIMPSON: Oh, no.

SEACREST: This is easy, Simpson. It's easy. A. SIMPSON: Uh oh, I'm going to get in trouble.

SEACREST: Nicole Richie.

A. SIMPSON: Very sweet.

SEACREST: Yes?

A. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: OK. That was nice. Paris Hilton?

A. SIMPSON: I don't know her that well.

SEACREST: Do you want to?

A. SIMPSON: She seems nice.

SEACREST: Why is she famous? All right, we'll move on. Britney Spears.

A. SIMPSON: I like Britney, actually. I respect her.

SEACREST: Have you seen the baby?

A. SIMPSON: No.

SEACREST: What do you think of Kevin Federline, her husband? All right, let's see. Christina Aguilera.

A. SIMPSON: She's got a great voice.

SEACREST: Where has she been?

A. SIMPSON: I don't know, with her fiance maybe. Having a life.

SEACREST: Is she putting out an album, do you know?

A. SIMPSON: I don't know, I'd love to hear an album.

SEACREST: Do you study and watch when an artist is working on an album so you can time the release of yours?

A. SIMPSON: No, I mean, maybe...

SEACREST: Because you don't want Britney, Christina, Ashlee, Jessica, all out in the marketplace at the exact same time, trying to sell records.

A. SIMPSON: No, I mean, I think that for me, I just came back and named my record, that it would have probably came out a lot later, but I got done with it fine.

SEACREST: All right, one more on the list.

A. SIMPSON: All right. SEACREST: Nick Lachey.

A. SIMPSON: I think of football every time I see him. And, you know, brother to me.

SEACREST: Does he help you through? I mean, we talked about some of the tough times you lived through earlier in the show, tonight. Was he really supportive? He's an artist as well. Did he call you and give you advice?

A. SIMPSON: Absolutely. I mean, he's one of those people -- he's obviously older than I am.

SEACREST: Much, much, much older, I think.

A. SIMPSON: Not a lot, but you know what I mean? In a way that he can give me good advice and just kind of like a big brother. So if anything, he just was loving and supporting.

SEACREST: Are you a competitive person?

A. SIMPSON: Yes, I am.

SEACREST: How competitive?

A. SIMPSON: I'm pretty competitive.

SEACREST: You like to win.

A. SIMPSON: I do like to win.

SEACREST: And how does that work, that competitive spirit, within the Simpson family? You're got Joe competitive, Jessica competitive, Ashlee competitive. How does that work at the dinner table?

A. SIMPSON: Well, they're usually like, "Ashlee, shut up," because I have always something to say. But usually we're fighting for who gets to talk. But, you know, it works fine, you know. And I think that being competitive and having that spirit in a good way is a good thing, because it helps you succeed. I'm sure you're competitive.

SEACREST: I'm very competitive. I hear the real person behind all of this that makes it work isn't Joe, it's Tina, your mother. She really runs a tight ship, is that right?

A. SIMPSON: She definitely is a hard worker.

SEACREST: And she puts you in your place when you guys get out of line, right?

A. SIMPSON: She does. Oh my gosh. If I get out of line, my mom will put me in my place like that. And I listen to her.

SEACREST: And you should. We should always listen to our moms. I do. Hi, Tonnie (ph). We'll be right back with Joe Simpson after the break. Stay with us on CNN.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: Back with Ashlee Simpson, singer and actress, and now joining us tonight is her dad-ager, Joe Simpson, that is, father and manager, wearing two hats.

That's got to be a tough gig, Joe.

JOE SIMPSON, FATHER AND MANAGER OF ASHLEE SIMPSON: You know, it's exciting. Sometimes, it's tough.

SEACREST: It's been tough recently, hasn't it, though?

J. SIMPSON: Absolutely.

SEACREST: Let me ask you, before we get into everything else, what is the status of Nick and Jessica? There are rumors everywhere that the two are splitting up and they get divorced.

J. SIMPSON: Well, all I know is that that's news to me. They're still together, they're together at their house right now. They just got back from Italy where they were taking their anniversary vacation. They spent time together, they had romantic dinners. Nick rented some museum place and had an orchestra and had, you know, an opera singer sing. And they had candlelight dinner. Sounds like a divorce to me, I don't know.

SEACREST: So where do these rumors come from, then?

J. SIMPSON: Well, they come from the fact that Jessica and Nick sell magazines.

SEACREST: Well, look at the cover of "US Weekly."

J. SIMPSON: There you go.

SEACREST: I've got the cover of "US Weekly" right here. Jessica Simpson, it says "Sleeping Away From Home." Is that true?

J. SIMPSON: Well, I can tell you that if Nick's out of town, Jessica is sleeping away from home, because she does not spend the night by herself. She's a scaredy cat.

A. SIMPSON: Me too.

(CROSSTALK)

J. SIMPSON: So if Nick is out, she is not at the house.

SEACREST: If he's away, she won't stay at the house?

J. SIMPSON: Not unless someone is spending the night with her.

SEACREST: Are they still living together?

J. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: I've got to put you on the spot, Joe, because, I mean, this story really is everywhere. And you know, I do the radio show in the morning, and every time I come in, there's another story about Nick and a girl that he hung out with on one night, or a girl that he took home or took him home. I mean, there are all these rumors. There's no truth to it at all?

J. SIMPSON: No. They are together, they love each other. Do they fight? Absolutely.

SEACREST: Have they been in a fight recently?

J. SIMPSON: Have they been in a fight? You know, I was in a fight with my wife yesterday. You know, I've been married 27 years. Has there ever been a day that said, "I'm divorcing you and leaving"? A bunch of them in 27 years. But that doesn't mean...

SEACREST: Nick says that?

J. SIMPSON: Well, I don't know. I'm not at their house.

SEACREST: Do you know -- has he said that?

J. SIMPSON: I have no idea. The honest answer to that is, although everyone thinks I know everything going on in their house...

SEACREST: Read the magazine.

A. SIMPSON: You don't know the fights that go on at their...

SEACREST: If you read the magazines, you are the godfather, because the reports say that you've orchestrated the trip for photographers to take pictures of Nick and Jessica to make it look as if they're happy. That you paid for the trip, that you're planning to announce the separation, but you want to wait, I mean, that you're doing all of this.

J. SIMPSON: Those stories have to be written by someone who doesn't children, and doesn't have girl children, because if I could be so lucky as to even tell them what to wear, I would be privileged. My children do what they do, and they do not ask permission. They allow me to manage and help them in their career. Their personal life, they are very clear about, is their own, and they control it.

SEACREST: But, with Nick and Jessica, their personal life is the reason many of us know them, because of "The Newlyweds" show.

J. SIMPSON: Sure, absolutely.

SEACREST: And they're doing another episode, or another full season?

J. SIMPSON: They are never doing another episode that I know of.

SEACREST: There's a story that they were going to do a pilot for another season.

J. SIMPSON: The only reason they did the two extras past the one is because we were under contract and we had no choice.

SEACREST: Was that, in hindsight -- letting cameras into their house. Was that, in your mind, a mistake? Especially when you look at the cover of these magazines?

J. SIMPSON: No. I think it was a great moment for them. It was a great moment for American to see who Jessica really was. We felt like that people saw her beauty, or people listened to her voice, but they never got to see her heart. And for me, that show gave America the opportunity to see this girl's heart. And for me, that was beautiful.

These are a result of being a popular movie star or singer, and it happens. The more popular you get, the more magazine covers like that you have. If you look at every top actress, actor, in America, they land on covers with those same kinds of stories. You know, they don't have as long a run as we do, but I guess that means that the kids are pretty popular. And in that case, you know, it's part of our deal.

Every job has good and bad things, things that you love about it, things that you hate about it. We hate that about this job, but we can't stop it. If we could, count on it. That's where I would become a godfather. I would have people eliminated, if that was possible.

But, you know, you can't. You just have to go -- it's very sad. It's very sad for me as a father to know that the stories that are printed are just simply not truth, and there's nothing I can do about it.

A. SIMPSON: And unfair.

SEACREST: What do you try and do about it? You say there's nothing you can do.

J. SIMPSON: We've tried it all. We tried it all. They said, "Well, if you'll just go meet with the editor of "US Weekly" and present your case, then they'll treat you differently." So I went and met with editor of "US Weekly" and said, "Why are you crucifying my children?" And, you know, she said, "Well, if you'll just work with us and give us access to your children, then all these magazines will go away."

So we did that. It worked for a couple weeks, and then the same magazine came back. And, you know, now they're out to see what they can do. They've included me, now. So I get to be a part of the party. And it's because, you know, they believe that if they can put enough pressure on you that you'll buckle and that you'll give them what they want.

SEACREST: We're going to take a break and come back with Ashlee Simpson and Joe Simpson, you used to be a minister in Texas. Now manages some multi-million dollar careers. We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: Back with Ashlee Simpson and her father and manager, Joe Simpson on CNN.

Ashlee was talking earlier about how you are the father and also the manager, and how you know when to stop pushing the envelope. It's got to be a very difficult dynamic. When she went through this debacle on "Saturday Night Live," what was the first thing that you said to her when she came running off that stage?

J. SIMPSON: I think she just said it a while ago. I said, "Baby, you know, you've got to pull yourself together. Moments like these are defining moments in your career. You can lay down and cry, and you can be sad about the spilt milk that's happened, or you can pull yourself together, hold your head up high, say, 'I made a mistake,' and go forward."

SEACREST: And, you know, I've been through situations before, just in life. You're growing up and your parents will say something like that and you think, "Yes, Dad, I don't want to hear it. You know, I screwed up. People are going to know about it. I'm going to see the clip, I'm going to read the headlines tomorrow."

A. SIMPSON: Right.

SEACREST: Did you ever have that thought? Just, "Leave me alone. Go away. I don't want to hear it."

A. SIMPSON: Not at that moment. At that moment, I was looking for something to give me strength. So that did help me. There are moments where I don't want to hear it, but that was not one.

SEACREST: Did he recommend you just take a trip and get away?

A. SIMPSON: No. He recommended that I got out there and kept on working, and I'm so glad that I did. And I went on tour. And, you know, for me, it was important, not to prove to the world, but to prove to my fans that that was just a mess up, and I failed, and I messed up that day. But I wanted to prove to them that, you know, they could come to my show and have a good time.

SEACREST: Joe, when you wake up and you see the papers the next day, do you take it personally?

J. SIMPSON: Of course. You know I'm a father first, and that's my baby. And, you know, the sad part for you is there's really no win in this situation. People ask you what happened, but they don't really want to know what happened because if you say what's happened, then they're saying, "You're just making excuses."

So it's a tough thing for me to advise Ashlee in this moment, to say, you know, "Tell the truth." Because here's a kid who's 20 years old, who's just starting in the music career, and in that moment, she had absolutely no control. A kid pushed the wrong button, didn't reset pro (ph) tools to the next song. That was not her fault.

(CROSSTALK)

J. SIMPSON: The technology, yes. It's how you -- all the other instruments and the vocals that are there. He didn't do it. He made a mistake, not on purpose.

SEACREST: Did you fire him?

J. SIMPSON: No, he still plays. He's still our kid today. We love him.

A. SIMPSON: I also made a joke out of it. I wrote the song "Autobiography," I changed the words. A whole joke, and, you know, I didn't want him to feel bad because I feel like we were in it together. It was me and him. So this time, whenever we did "SNL," we held hands and walking out, we were like (inaudible)

J. SIMPSON: So you have that moment, you have that thing that this child had to take the responsibility for something wasn't really her responsibility. What a great life lesson, because that's the way life is. I wish I was only responsible for my behavior. I wish I was only responsible for my mistakes, but I'm not. I'm responsible for everything going on in my business, and she is too.

SEACREST: When you told him, Ashlee, that you were going to do this album about that experience, what was his first reaction?

A. SIMPSON: I think, you know, the whole point of the record is, you know, I am me. Like, no matter my highs, my lows, who I date, this, whatever, this is who I am. Like imperfect, here I am. And I think that he likes the idea of that, didn't you?

J. SIMPSON: Yes, I think that's what makes that girl special.

SEACREST: But your job as manager is damage control. Were you concerned that, by this album being about that experience, that you were going to have to sit through these questions all over again and have her go through this and relive this over and over again while you were promoting it?

J. SIMPSON: I think the only time you worry is if you have something to hide. And what we try to teach our children is, you know what? Step up, take responsibility, tell the truth, and you never have to look back. If what you say is true, you don't have to worry about what anyone else says because it'll never come back and bite you.

It's when you begin to portray yourself as something you're not that you have to deal with all of those problems later on. You may get away with it a minute, but later, they're going to come back. And this girl has always been what you see is what you get. I've told her to pull it back a lot, "Baby, you don't have to tell everybody everything at once. You don't have to be all those things."

SEACREST: Anything after this show tonight? Are you available then?

J. SIMPSON: Jessica, I've always had to push and go, "Go be more, tell more." Ashlee I've had to pull back and go...

A. SIMPSON: They were always like, "What do we not know about you, there's got to be" -- and I'm like, "Well, I don't know."

J. SIMPSON: She tells it -- you know, she doesn't like it, she'll say, "You know what? I don't like it." And I've tried to teach her, to go, "Well, maybe we don't have to tell them we don't like them."

SEACREST: How different is this life now compared to being a minister back in Texas? How many years ago was that?

J. SIMPSON: Seven and a half.

SEACREST: Only 7 1/2 years ago, and now reports of you making anywhere form $5 to $10 million as the manager, and the daughters making millions and millions of dollars. Talk about the difference in that lifestyle, and how do you know what you're doing?

I mean, you weren't trained to be a manager. You weren't trained to be in this business. I know you're producing movies, you're writing, you're in charge of these careers. You may have an album coming out, for all I know. How do you know that you're making the most educated and right decisions?

J. SIMPSON: Well, you know, this is an instinct business. I think that I have -- I was a therapist before this. I worked with kids for 22 years, and worked with adolescents that had been abused. A lot of that role has run into that business. I'm still working with kids. They live at our house, they come to our house. My artists are basically kids. So, you know, I'm still doing that.

I think that this business is about knowing the instincts of who people are, finding that which is good in them, finding that which is special in them, that stands out, and bringing that forward to the public. I think that's what makes a great manager, the ability to not say, "Well, this is how everyone else does it." You have to look at the individual and say, "What are your special gifts, what are your special qualities," and then build them a career around those things.

And again, when you do that, you never have to back up. Because if people like those things, we win. If we don't, then we won't. But at this point, people like -- I mean, that's what they like about the girls. They are who they are. You know, they make mistakes, they fail.

To me, I wanted the girls to be in this business to be role models. To say to me -- I think what a great example Ashlee is in this record, to say, "Look, all of us have that dream of waking up in our classroom and being naked, and what's everybody going to think?"

SEACREST: Some dream naked, but... J. SIMPSON: Well, you know -- I'm not going to talk about -- but anyways, we have that fear, and yet here is a girl that woke up naked in front of the entire world, and she had to make some decisions. And what a great example to kids to say, "Look, you don't have to fold. You don't have to roll over and, you know, give up on life and commit suicide and go all away," even though she went through all those emotions.

That you can get up, you can pick it up, you can prove to the world, you know what? Failure doesn't destroy you. The unwillingness to get back up and try again, that's destructive.

SEACREST: More of the naked truth at the Simpson place right after this. Stay with us.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: Welcome back. Ashlee Simpson and Joe Simpson, her father and manager, with us this evening. Thank you guys for hanging out with me, I appreciate it. Thank you, Larry, for letting me sit in for you tonight.

Ashlee, we were talking about the fact that the album is in stores, "I Am Me." How involved is Joe when you're putting together this album? At what stage does he come in and really start working with you?

A. SIMPSON: He doesn't, you know, do the studio parts. I play him songs after I do it, though. When I'm actually in the studio, I like it to be just the people that are working on the record. But then, you know, we'll have a little listening party, and he'll come in and, you know, check the songs out. He'll say if he likes something or doesn't like something.

SEACREST: What is -- because, you know, when you're an artist in this business, you put your emotions out on that record, and people know a lot about you. And what's interesting is that you're feeling that emotion when you write the song, that that emotion lives forever every time that song is played.

A. SIMPSON: And every time I play them, I always go back to it. I'm like, "It's great."

SEACREST: What is most difficult, now that you've achieved this level of fame, about being famous and being in this business?

A. SIMPSON: I say this in all honestly. I really don't have a difficult life. I don't have to deal with paparazzi as bad as my sister does.

SEACREST: But you do. I've seen them follow you.

A. SIMPSON: Yes, but I think I just don't pay attention to it because I have a fun thing, I get to go on tour, and everything. Such wonderful people around me that every day is fun. It's not like I'm like, "Oh, this is so hard." You know, it is hard when you work hard, but at the end of the day, you finish your day and you're like, "God, I'm blessed to have lived this day."

SEACREST: Is it all it's cracked up to be?

A. SIMPSON: I think that people look at being a celebrity different than being an artist. When you really are an artist, it's really a lot of work, everyday working your butt off and playing shows. And it's fun work, but it really is hard.

SEACREST: There seems to be a bit of a paradigm shift here in Hollywood. There are a lot of people -- or there are a handful of people who are famous that you can't quite figure out why.

A. SIMPSON: What do you do?

SEACREST: Right? I mean, it's always good to have something that backs it up. What advice do you have for young people who do what you do, who want to be here? I mean, every day, more and more people move to Hollywood because they want to pursue the dream. What do you say to those young people?

A. SIMPSON: I say do it, and work on your music, and work on -- you know, for me, work on being a better writer, work on your voice, work on -- I still do every day. I do voice lessons every single day. And just work on your craft. You know, if you want to be an actress, try schools, read books, you know, whatever that may be. But don't come here to just be a celebrity.

SEACREST: Joe, as a parent, did you ever feel like you pushed the girls too hard?

J. SIMPSON: No, actually never. These girls are self-motivated. I feel like I always try to simply provide the opportunity for them to dream the dreams they had. I came from a very poor family, and I had all of these dreams, and I had no way to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. And so I had to take other career paths.

Tina and I, together as a couple, for our children, whatever the sacrifice was, to help them get to those dreams, we were willing to do it. And there's not greater blessing for a parent than to watch your child achieve their dream. You know, when Ashlee stood up two Saturday nights ago on "SNL," it was, for me, a very scary moment. I was praying with all that I had.

(CROSSTALK)

J. SIMPSON: Because I knew that if she delivered, she had redeemed herself. If she failed, it was over. We were in the deeper whole than we ever started out with, so that was a very, very tough moment.

SEACREST: It's high risk, high return. It was do or die that night, huh?

J. SIMPSON: But I knew it was the only way for her to put these demons and ghosts away. To face them, to walk through them. And her face at the end of that song, I wish that the cameras would have been behind the scenes when she got out with her band, and they were all like hugging each other. She was in the middle, and they were all just hugging around her and crying.

And the "SNL" people were all crying, and we were all standing there. John Shanks was there, her producer. And, you know, that's what this is about, because that was her dream. To be able to go back to the world and say, "You think I'm this, but you're wrong. You think I can't sing. You think I was a fake. Not true."

SEACREST: You've definitely had to grow up in the last year or so, haven't you?

A. SIMPSON: Yes.

SEACREST: Stay with us, we'll be right back with Ashlee Simpson and Joe Simpson.

(BREAK)

SEACREST: Back with Ashlee Simpson and Joe Simpson this evening.

Ashlee, are you a spiritual person?

A. SIMPSON: Yes, absolutely. My spirituality is, you know, I believe in God, and I believe that there are a lot of things that I couldn't do without God.

SEACREST: Joe, former Baptist minister. Some religious people are critical of your daughters' public images. What do you have to say to those people?

J. SIMPSON: Well, when I was a minister, they were still critical of my daughters' images when they were in the church. My girls always wore the shortest shorts or the littlest bikinis. And although the magazines say I have the power to change that, the truth is, they were going to wear what they were going to wear, and I was holding on. I think they're the same girls.

My belief, what I know and have said about God, is I believe that the most important thing to God is what's in a man's heart, and not what is on the outside. And I've tried to teach that to the girls. He looks at the heart, and I think that the heart of these girls are special, and they're the same. And I think he looks on them and is proud of who they are.

SEACREST: You talk about people being critical of what they were wearing. I know that you've gotten up and seen that Blackwell list of the worst dressed, and I think I've probably been on it, too. But I think that you and Jessica have been on that list. Do you care about that stuff?

A. SIMPSON: Oh, no.

SEACREST: Does it matter? Does it affect the way that you get ready, and what you put on when you do a show? A. SIMPSON: No. I mean, honestly, I never match. In my day-to- day life, I wear whatever I feel like wearing, and always have. My mom used to try to dress me when I was younger, and instead, I'd be like, "No, this doesn't fit me. It's too tight." And I would wear tutus and my snow boots, whatever I want to wear.

J. SIMPSON: They still have those same fights today, by the way.

A. SIMPSON: Yes. My sister's more put together with her clothes than I am on my day-to-day life. I kind of just dress very free and whatever I feel like putting on.

SEACREST: You certainly have the means to pick out whatever you guys want now.

A. SIMPSON: Oh, I have a huge closet. My closet is 1,300 square feet, so I have a lot of clothes.

SEACREST: You're 21. We talked tonight about all the things you've been through and how quickly you've grown up. What's next for you? What do you want to do in the next three years, ten years?

A. SIMPSON: I mean, for me, I hope to continue to make music, and each album, I feel like I grow, and I feel like, you know, writing music and whatnot, I grow as an artist. So I hope to do that and movies and be able to, you know, do good work. That's all.

SEACREST: Well, people love to call in and request your song on my radio show. So congratulations on the success of it. Ashlee Simpson, "I Am Me" in stores.

Joe, always a pleasure.

J. SIMPSON: Absolutely.

SEACREST: Thanks for hanging out with me tonight. Stay tuned, right here on CNN for more news around the clock. And thank you, Larry, for letting me sit in. Good night.

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