By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 13, 2004 03:14 PM

“Nick & Jessica,” ABC’s variety special starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, was a ratings hit Easter Sunday with 11.4 million viewers, a healthy number for a holiday night, say reports.

As a result, the “Newlyweds” stars will be back for Christmas, with ABC asking for a year-end holiday edition. And the network is now talking about making the show a quarterly event.

According to New York’s Daily News, ABC executives initially touted “Nick & Jessica” as a one-shot homage to the ’70s variety show hosted by Sonny and Cher — and even dug up such vintage names as Kenny Rogers, the Muppets, Mr. T. and the car from Knight Rider, as well as Jewel.

Lachey and Simpson’s show generated some 3 million more sets of eyeballs than ABC’s usual 9 p.m. program, “Alias.”

Meanwhile, ABC also has Lachey, 30, and Simpson, 23, on tap for their own sitcom pilots aimed for this fall, though no final scheduling has been announced.

Lachey is due to costar with Gina Gershon in “Hot Mama,” in which she plays a single mom and wedding planner. Simpson’s series has yet to find a name, but her character will be that of a morning news correspondent.