WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. Feb 21, 2005 — An episode of "The Simple Life" that showed hotel chain heiress Paris Hilton and sidekick Nicole Richie working at a funeral home upset some local residents.
The pair drove a hearse, filled in a grave and held a mock funeral during an episode of the Fox TV reality show that aired last Wednesday. They also spilled what appeared to be human ashes onto a carpet, then used a vacuum cleaner to clean them up.
The ashes were actually a mixture of cat litter and cement, according to John Podesta, the owner of Kohler Funeral Home. A disclaimer at the end of the show said no human bodies were used in any of the scenes, but that failed to appease some viewers.
"It was totally tacky," Amy Van Dalinda told The Record of Bergen County. She said the mock funeral was in the same room where her late father had been laid out, "which was really horrible to me."
Podesta said he has received few complaints and would not have participated if he thought the episode would hurt the funeral home's reputation. He said the funeral home was not compensated for hosting the show's taping.
The series, now in its third season, features the duo working in a series of menial jobs.