May 24, 2004 08:00 AM

Jessica, the proposed ABC sitcom that was to spotlight the ditzy personality of Newlyweds favorite Jessica Simpson — as imagined by a writing staff assembled from Frasier, Spin City and 8 Simple Rules – will not be on the network’s fall schedule, or on any schedule, The New York Times reports.

“She was actually the best thing on it,” said one ABC executive, who asked not to be identified. “It was a valiant effort, but at the end of the day everyone seemed to think it wasn’t the best use of her talent.”

Jessica’s father, Joe Simpson, who is also her manager, refused to speak about the show, but reportedly agreed with the network decision to pull the plug.

The problem seemed to be that although the concept for the show was strong, with Simpson, 23, playing a TV interviewer who aspires to be Diane Sawyer, the execution was anything but. Real celebrities played themselves as the Simpson character interviewed subjects.

The Times also reports that Joe Simpson apparently had second thoughts about locking his multitalented daughter, who will launch a live convert tour next month, into the weekly TV grind.

Previously announced sitcoms to have starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and John Stamos also didn’t make the fall schedule.

Variety, meanwhile, reports that Transylvania, the proposed NBC spinoff of the vampire adventure movie Van Helsing (starring Hugh Jackman), will not rise to life any night on the network.

The trade paper suggests that the ultimately disappointing box office of Van Helsing – which opened like a bat out of hell its first weekend but then took its time reaching the $100-million mark at the box office – was a factor in the decision, a claim disputed by NBC Universal entertainment president Jeff Zucker.

“We just want to make sure it has the right network home,” he said, adding that the show is being shopped around.

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