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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 12/ 5/2006

Jessica Simpson, Breaking It on Down

By Liz Kelly

Simpson at Sunday night's Kennedy Center Honors. (Getty Images)

If you haven't heard yet, Jessica Simpson had some kind of mildly embarassing breakdown on Sunday night while singing a song in tribute to Dolly Parton at the Kennedy Center Honors. From today's Reliable Source:

"The 26-year-old pop starlet kept one arm clutched to her midsection while singing '9 to 5.' At the end, she blurted, 'Dolly, you make me so nervous, I can't even sing the words right,' then scuttled awkwardly off the stage. Witnesses told us she was a wreck before she went on, weeping while the video tribute to Parton played and pacing anxiously during performances by Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss and Shania Twain."

Elsewhere, comparisons are being drawn to sister Ashlee's "Saturday Night Live" lip-synching fiasco back in 2004.

Let me be the first to say: give the girl a break. She was obviously overwhelmed by the responsibility of measuring up to Dolly's original version and, while singing, may have been struck by the eerie parellel to her own hard-scrabble life as a work-a-day office drone. Oh wait, that's me. Still -- Simpson's publicist did insist that the singer/actress/make-up-line-named-after-me-person was nervous because she's idolized Parton her whole life and wanted the performance to be perfect.

It could've been worse. At least she was wearing a dress long enough to squash any speculation about her undergarments and didn't react by breaking into some impish countrified jig -- though perhaps that would've gone over well with Dolly.

By Liz Kelly  | December 5, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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"struck by the eerie parellel to her own hard-scrabble life as a work-a-day office drone. Oh wait, that's me."

No it's not, you are a glamorous, hot-legged career gal, who, if I recall correctly, works at home (without pants).

Posted by: mark | December 5, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

See what happens when you deprive certain people of their Tuesday lunchtime prescriptions.

Posted by: NotGene | December 5, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This woman is so unprofessional. Why did they invite her? She's not a country artist. To have Jessica Simpson honor Dolly Parton is an insult to Dolly. I'm not a country music fan, but person of Dolly Parton's achievement deserves better.

Posted by: Lisa | December 5, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Maybe to inject some class into Jess's career? Or the illusion thereof? Maybe throwing her in with an event attended by the rich and at least theoretically classy was just what her agent/whoever books these things thought her career needed.

Or it could be that someone in the Kennedy Center staff/donor list is a big fan of hers (I've heard of stranger things). Who knows.

Posted by: To Lisa | December 5, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your classy dose of sympathy and perspective re Jessica Simpson's gaffe, Liz. She got nervous and forgot the words. Big deal. This doesn't rate very high up there on the Embarrassment Meter. Most performers will tell you that it's happened to them at least once. And, as you said, it wasn't like JS was behaving badly or showed poor judgement about something--just a slip up.

And, speaking of class, wasn't Dolly a class act for being so gracious and understanding about it?! There's a mark of a lady and a consummate professional.

Posted by: sen | December 5, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it's just that she is not very good at what she does (and her sister, too). A good performer is trained and prepared to put on a good performance, even if they're nervous or intimidated. It looked like she had a tele-prompter, and she still messed up the words. Jeesh! Unfortunately, trying to pump up the class in her career cannot fix her enormous talent deficit.

Posted by: Mike | December 5, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I must agree with Mike. I never thought her voice was all that great, and she has seriously let her vocals slip since her stylists/publicists decided to start concentrating more on making her a sex symbol than a songstress. After all, an artist and performer she is not, as proved in this case.

Same goes for her sis.

Posted by: kat | December 5, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

yes, but why was she clutching her dress/chest? was there a wardrobe malfunction? heartburn? pledge of allegiance?

i think her apology and hasty exit was kind of least she had the humility to acknowledge she was in over her head.

Posted by: wats | December 5, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I love Dolly, she's totally rad, a throwback to the days when Dames Ran The Show. JSimp had no business there, that list of other performers honoring Dolly was complete without her.

Posted by: miss belle | December 5, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The Kennedy Center invited her because the producers of this show hope to boost the ratings by having one or two "hip" pop stars at the event each year. It's pathetic, in my opinion - she is not the caliber of artist they should feature (as demonstrated by her meltdown.) And I really hope the footage of this ends up on YouTube.

Posted by: ML | December 5, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Did the producers of the show NOT watch Newleyweds?? She isn't very talented and she doesn't have the brains to cover lack of talent or nerves. PLEASE tell me I find this footage somewhere...watching her flounder is really quite funny.

Posted by: BB | December 5, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

If you had to choose Britney or Jessica? I choose Jessica, she far more class than Britney.

Posted by: JustCurious | December 5, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes. But who doesn't?

Posted by: to Just Curious | December 5, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if they'll edit our her meltdown when the show runs on the air later this month? Regretfully I won't be able to watch -- it's never aired here as our cable system in North Carolina doesn't seem to think the locals would even know what the KenCen is, much less appreciate who the honorees are. Although presumably the NASCAR set does recognize Dolly Parton's name... maybe we'll get lucky this year!

Posted by: MissingGene | December 5, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I heard that Jessica was also upset because she had just heard that guy from Prison Break got into a car accident and that his passenger died. Apparently the guy, Lane Garrison, had been quasi-adopted by her weirdo dad/preacher Joe Simpson a long time ago and Jessica knows him very well. So, in addition to Dolly idolatry, she was probably feeling really emotional about her friend.

On why she got picked: do the honorees have anything to do with picking who honors them? I have no idea, just wondering.

Posted by: northerner | December 5, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Re: J. simpson's meltdown. I read somewhere this morning that after the show the producers had her re-do the song (without the audience present) so the final airing later this month will have a 'good' copy. Of all of the great country music stars out there i.e., Lee Ann Rhimes, Reba, etc. why would they choose Jessica?

Posted by: snoootty | December 5, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Man! A lotta hatin' here on ol' Jess.

Posted by: Stick | December 5, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

She looks like a rabbit.

Posted by: One A-hole Posting In A Blog | December 5, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

MSNBC has it.

Posted by: b | December 5, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Office drone"? You work in an office?

Posted by: Tool | December 5, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Would this be an inopportune moment to mention that Dolly Parton looks reallyreally scary?

She should take her big plasticized hooters and smother her plastic surgeon, that's what she should do.

Also, in a photo that accompanied yesterday's Post write up of the event, Dolly appears to be clutching her left booby, whilst others are placing their hands over their hearts. Is this a special Southern redneck salute they didn't teach us in school?

Posted by: Cubeland, MD | December 5, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

According to J. Free's chat, Dolly is not plasticized. At least not her chest.

Posted by: I'm just sayin' | December 5, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

she's still hot

Posted by: mickey | December 5, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

dolly is totally plasticized, including her chest! and she always admits it. sure, she originally--prior to extreme make-over-- had ginormous boobs. but those oldies were probably sagging 20 years ago, so she has had them re-done several times. they don't resemble anything real anymore. but who cares? dolly rocks!

Posted by: wats | December 6, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

She seems pleasant enough, but her looks are a puzzle.

Google for her pictures at and find one that shows her forehead. Take your hand and cover the hair and you have....the face of a man.


Like I said, I don't know much about her, but once you see it, she seems more handsome than pretty.

Posted by: Bunkley | December 6, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

This is 100% on the Kennedy Center. Poor Jess was just acting true to form - being in over her head and then ditzing her way out of it.

If the Kennedy Center wants "glam", go after some talent and class. It could be anyone from Carrie Underwood to Beyonce.

They got what they bought and shame on them for it.

Posted by: Ms Kelly | December 7, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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