Nick and Jessica officially separate

Five minutes into Thanksgiving break, and news breaks: Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are finally, officially separated, but not yet officially divorcing.

In an exclusive statement to Us Weekly, revealed at 10 p.m. ET, the couple said:

“After three years of marriage, and careful thought and consideration, we have decided to part ways. … This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other. We hope that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Too bad they didn’t want privacy right after they married.

Recall the sordid history of their public relationship: In May, E! Online reported that they’d split, and then quickly retracted the story, apologizing and saying that the couple was very, very happy. Then, at the beginning of October, Us Weekly reported that they split up, but the couple denied it (yet they still gave the exclusive story today to Us Weekly). Along the way, there were countless reports of infidelity and rumors of separation. A year and a half ago, I predicted all of this, sort of, in a satirical April 1 post. And of course, our intense fascination with the couple all began more than two years ago, when Nick and Jessica’s MTV series debuted in August of 2003.

Now, the saga is over, at least until Jessica’s dad Joe can figure out a way to make money from this.

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey Announce Separation To Us Weekly [Us Magazine]