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Late 70s TV Series <i>Dukes of Hazzard</i> Revamped in New Movie

  • Alan Silverman

Yet another television show gets big screen treatment in a new action-comedy co-starring Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson. Alan Silverman has a look at The Dukes Of Hazzard.

If it's a bright orange 1969 Dodge Charger muscle car with a couple of happy-go-lucky guys inside.

It must be the "General Lee" and those Duke boys, Luke and Bo, up to their usual tricks in rural Hazzard County, Georgia.

The Dukes Of Hazzard series ran on American television from 1979 to 1985, mixing homespun "redneck" humor with fast-paced action. The new film features Johnny Knoxville of the controversial MTV series Jackass as Luke Duke; and Seann William Scott - Stifler in the American Pie comedies - co-stars as his cousin Bo Duke. Like almost everyone in the film, Scott has fond memories of watching the original TV Dukes, but he admits coming to the project with some skepticism.

"I was a huge fan when I was a kid, but I hadn't seen it for a long time," he admits. " I heard about them wanting to make a movie out of it and [I thought] there have been so many TV shows [turned in] to films and I don't really like any of them. Then I read the script and it was good, but the director really excited me and then I thought 'you know what? I want to be the guy who drives the car."

Of course, in addition to the 'boys,' there is their comely cousin Daisy Duke, played by pop star Jessica Simpson in her feature film debut.

"I grew up in Texas, so I watched a lot of the reruns. I'm not old enough; I was young when it came out," she explains. "We played Dukes Of Hazzard - me and my cousins - and I was always Daisy.

I look at Daisy Duke as this cute, Southern, sexy thing and I wanted to give it a couple of extra syllables - more than somebody from Texas," Simpson adds.

Simpson also had to find another perfect fit: skimpy denim shorts like Catherine Bach wore as the character on the TV show and became known as "Daisy Dukes."

"I would look over at my wardrobe some days on the set and say 'you've got to be kidding me.' There were so many days that I didn't want to put [them on]" she admits, "well, it's not like I was putting on a lot. I didn't want to go through all the body makeup and the whole thing, but it is what it is.

The Hollywood landscape is littered with recent films adapted from TV shows that failed to connect with cinema audiences: The Honeymooners and Bewitched are just two recent examples. However, producer Bill Gerber believes The Dukes Of Hazzard goes beyond nostalgia to connect with something that still resonates with young Americans today.

"A lot of it is just the rebellious spirit of these guys - the relationship of these cousins who just love each other and are there for each other and have a protective attitude toward their little cousin Daisy; but I just always loved the fact that they got away with it in the end," he says. "They just, somehow, in their common sense, country way outsmarted everybody. It just felt purely American to me. This is who we are: kind of that rebellious show."

The Dukes Of Hazzard is directed by Chicago-born Jay Chandrasekhar. It features Burt Reynolds as the Dukes' nemesis Boss Hogg; and music star Willy Nelson plays their joke-cracking Uncle Jessie.

And along with his onscreen work, Nelson also contributes a song to the country-flavored soundtrack.