When it comes to Paris Hilton, nothing is simple. Take the conference-call interview she's scheduled to do with Nicole Richie to promote The Simple Life 2 (debuting Wednesday on Fox). The L.A.-based Richie has agreed to talk with TV Guide Online at 10 pm — in order to accommodate Hilton, who's on a 17-hour time difference in Australia. But when the hotel heiress gets on the line, she puts her stiletto down. "I want to do the interview by myself," Hilton pouts. "My publicist didn't tell you? I want to do it separately."
Hmm... Is Hilton just being difficult — or could rumors of a rift between these two pampered party girls be true? For the record, both say their friendship is just fine, thanks. The gossip "is just people trying to make things up," Hilton huffs.
Regardless of whether they have, at least momentarily, grown sick of each other, the question remains: Are viewers over them? Last winter's first installment was a hit — thanks, in part, to publicity generated by Hilton's homemade sex video circulating on the Internet. Still, even the Fox network had doubts about the rich girls' 15 minutes warranting a sequel.
"Fox had just had the failure of the second Joe Millionaire, so they were very cautious," explains Simple Life executive producer Jonathan Murray. "It wasn't until the last [episode] aired that they said they wanted to do a second season."
The decision to send the girls on a cross-country road trip — something jet-setters Hilton and Richie had never done before — provided fresh, culture-shocking possibilities. Instead of crashing with one family for the duration, they stir up trouble for several. Their hosts include a deeply religious gospel-singing clan, a husband-and-wife team of ex-Marines and a group of hippies. Along the way, they also tackle — ineptly, natch — a slew of wacky jobs. We're talking chambermaids at a nudist colony, sheriff's deputy assistants and sausage-stuffing at a factory.
Of course, these gal pals weren't exactly roughing it. They traveled with round-the-clock security guards to fend off trailing paparazzi and got each Sunday off. (Hello, cell phones, credit cards and hotels! Not that their accommodations were anything to write home about. "We stayed at, like, the Clarion," Richie sniffs.) And while the plan was for them to trek from South Beach, Fla., to Beverly Hills, they only made it as far as Texas! Explains Richie: "Basically, we'd just had enough."
Viewers will see the girls get fed up with each other at least once. "One source of tension was that Nicole decided to bring her dog, Honey, this time," says Murray. The other pooch was Hilton's teacup Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. "[These] two dogs don't seem very potty-trained, if you ask me."
Life can be such a bitch.