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'It's surreal': Singer Simpson finds career taking new turns



Published: Tue, August 9, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Simpson's 'Dukes' co-star said the singer did a great job on her first movie.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS

DALLAS -- Jessica Simpson is a multimillion-selling recording artist and the star of her own reality TV series (chicken, tuna, whatever). She's also starring in her first movie, "The Dukes of Hazzard," which opened Friday.

But when she recently saw her face plastered on a monstrous "Dukes" billboard in Times Square, she flipped.

"I'm on billboards all over the place, and I take pictures of every one I see," she said on a recent "Dukes" promotional stop in Dallas. "I must have 50 pictures. It's surreal. Every day is surreal."

Eight years ago, she was just a student at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas. She left after her junior year to jump into the music business, where she has since been joined by her sister, Ashlee.

Turned out to be a pretty good decision.

Thoughts about role

Today, she's sitting next to "Dukes" director Jay Chandrasekhar, looking at a bowl of chocolate bits made to look like rocks, answering questions about how it feels to be Daisy Duke. A fan of the show since childhood, she was happy to try Catherine Bach's short shorts on for size.

"It's Daisy Duke!" she exclaims by way of explaining why she was eager to do the movie. "I always loved Daisy Duke. I played 'Dukes of Hazzard' when I was a kid. I was Daisy, and my cousins were Bo and Luke. We pretended we could drive. You'd bend over the car, stand in front of the car, walk around the car. We said 'yee-haw' a lot and talked in a Georgia accent."

Which, come to think of it, is basically what she does in the movie.

Johnny Knoxville, a reality TV star of a slightly different sort, plays Daisy's troublemaking, yee-hawing cousin Luke. He says the Texas gal with the megawatt smile has a bright future in pictures.

"She was great," he says. "It was her first film, which I didn't realize until after the first take when she told me. But she's such a pro, whether she's doing interviews or photos or whatever. She came on the set and knew all her lines and all her marks."

Though her California dream has come true, she misses some things about home, especially Tex-Mex, specifically Chuy's. She just recorded her new album, called "And the Band Played On," which she wrote and produced. She likes the idea of a dual career and its cross-promotional potential.

Should be plenty more billboard photos ahead.




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