Good Ole' Feudin' in Hazzard County

Perhaps "The Dukes of Hazzard" producers were just itching for a fight when they began production notes for their action comedy with a barroom-reverberating, "Yeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaawwww!"

Somewhere between the ninth "e" and the fourth "w," any notion that this is anything but a monstrous exercise in Hollywood excess has to be fried up like yesterday's grits.

Now the film has Ben Jones -- the former Georgia congressman who played Cooter on the original "Dukes" TV show -- all riled up, too.

"Sure it bothers me that they wanted nothing to do with the cast of our show, but what bothers me much more is the profanity laced script with blatant sexual situations that mocks the good clean family values of our series," he writes on his Web site, www.cootersplace.com.

"Now, anybody who knows me knows that I'm not a prude. But this kind of toilet humor has no place in Hazzard County. Rather than honoring our legendary show, they have chosen to degrade it."

For those uninitiated in the Dukes' six-season hayride, good ole' boy cousins Bo and Luke Duke (originally played by John Schneider and Tom Wopat) pedal their Uncle Jesse's moonshine, outrunning Hazzard County's corrupt Sheriff Roscoe in their orange Dodge Charger, which they call the "General Lee."

In seemingly every episode, the boys get thrown in the clink and cousin Daisy Duke (originally Catherine Bach) struts into court to overwhelm the judge with her sweet talk and short shorts.

In the new movie, Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott play the Duke boys. Jessica Simpson squeezes into Daisy's dangerously over-stretched denims, and producers scoured through junkyards, specialty houses and Web sites to rebuild TV's ultimate muscle mobile, which still bares a confederate flag atop the roof.

Many Southerners are not fond of the "Dukes" hillbilly stereotyping, but the show clearly had its fans. In 1988, when Jones ran for Congress in Georgia, he cashed in on his fame as Cooter, the Duke boy's sidekick mechanic. He even campaigned with the original General Lee car, calling himself a "NASCAR Democrat."

Jones served two terms in the House of Representatives and was eventually unseated by Newt Gingrich.

The little "Dukes" dustup has former "Wonder Woman" star Lynda Carter chuckling. "Get a grip," says Carter, addressing Jones' anger.

Carter -- who joins Willie Nelson and Burt Reynolds with cameo performances -- says the new "Dukes" are no different than the old "Dukes," and the show was never exactly good clean family values.

Back in the late 1970s, Carter says Bach would joke about her less-than-wholesome performances.

"Her little rear end was showing all the time," Carter says. She recalls her friend routinely complaining, "If I have to have any more boob shots, I'm going to shoot myself."

Bach has hardly joined Jones in his feud with movie producers. She even congratulated Simpson on winning the part over Britney Spears and Mandy Moore, and Jessica Biel.

But Jones is right, if he's afraid that the new Daisy Duke shows more bottom these days. Director Jay Chandrasekhar even admits he carefully designed the new shorts to go a little further than the Bach version.

Simpson says she implemented a "No Butt Cheek" rule, but was otherwise game for anything. Costumers worked accordingly, allowing a scant, 10 inches of fabric from the top of Simpson's waistband to the bottom of her upper thigh.

"When I was growing up those shorts drove me bananas," says the 37-year-old director.

"I remember picking out the style of Daisy Dukes I wanted Jessica to wear, and when she first came on set wearing them, I was speechless because she looked phenomenal. Jessica's Daisy Dukes are even shorter than Catherine Bach's, which I didn't think was possible."

"I wouldn't really wear her clothes around town," says Simpson, "but being raised in the South, it was a lot of fun to slip back into all the different outfits that Daisy wears and uses to her advantage."

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