August 03, 2004 12:00 PM

Wednesday is the finale of the eight-episode Ashlee Simpson Show on MTV, but word is circulating that Jessica Simpson’s little sister may be back for a second season.

Ashlee averaged 2.9 million viewers a week, nearly the 3.5-million figure achieved by MTV’s Newlyweds, starring her sister and brother-in-law Nick Lachey. In even more desirable demographics, Ashlee nabbed 2.1 million viewers among MTV’s core group of 12-34 year-olds, compared to 2.5 million who tuned into Newlyweds.

MTV has declined comment on the show’s prospects for a second season, but TV reporters say its return is likely.

All told, it’s been a very good two weeks for the 19-year-old brunette. Her debut, Autobiography, debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart after moving more than 398,000 copies in the week ended July 25.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” Simpson said in a statement. “I’m so excited for what’s happened and what’s to come. I am so thankful for everyone’s support.”

Ashlee co-wrote the 12 tracks on her first album, including debut single, “Pieces of Me.” (The track hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Top 40 radio airplay chart.) Autobiography also includes Simpson’s ballad “Shadow,” which tells of her decision to step out of her older sister’s shadow and carve out her own musical and acting niche.

“She is making her own shadows now. It took a lot for Ashlee to make this record and step outside of expectations,” said Ashlee’s mom, Tina Simpson, in a statement released through her younger daughter’s label, Geffen.

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