Jessica Simpson

Insider

UPDATED 03/08/2004 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/08/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

PUSHING UP DAISY
She wasn't even born when the series first aired, but Jessica Simpson is emerging as the top choice to play Daisy Duke in Warner Bros.' big-screen adaptation of the TV hit The Dukes of Hazzard. A few weeks ago Simpson met with the studio, financiers and producers, all of whom found MTV's hottest housewife "delightful," says producer Billy Gerber. "She's young, moral, bright, gorgeous and southern—everything that Daisy is." But Simpson isn't the only one who could squeeze into Daisy's short-shorts. Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Jessica Biel are also being mentioned for the part. As for who might play those fast-drivin' good ol' boys Bo and Luke Duke, the studio hopes to enlist Ashton Kutcher and Paul Walker, but no moves will be made until a director comes on board, which should be in a matter of weeks.

TWO FOR THE ROAD
Last weekend Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore skipped the Hollywood party scene and flew to Sin City on Moore's private jet. The couple caught Elton John's show at Caesars Palace, then headed to a bash at the Bellagio's Caramel Lounge, where Demi downed a Red Bull as they chatted with Luke Wilson and peripatetic partygoer Leonardo DiCaprio. Later, the couple joined a group of eight pals, including Tobey Maguire, at the hotel's Jasmine restaurant. Then they were off to the high limit blackjack tables. Around 2 a.m., bodyguards escorted the duo through the casino and into the nightclub Light, where they hung out till 4.

SOMEONE'S GOTTA GIVE
Oscar nominee Diane Keaton is in a generous mood these days. When Barbara Walters interviewed the Something's Gotta Give star for her Academy Awards special airing Feb. 29, she admired Keaton's Costume National trench coat. "I'll give it to you," said the actress. Alas, Walters told her, as a journalist she can't accept gifts. Undeterred, Keaton had the bellhop at Manhattan's Mandarin Oriental hotel, where the interview took place, slip the coat into the newswoman's car. After Walters found the surprise, she reciprocated by sending Keaton a dozen pairs of the actress's signature accessory: leather gloves. As for Keaton's famously idiosyncratic fashion sense, Walters says, "If she's not considered well-dressed, then neither am I."

FAST TAKES

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With their series ending after 10 seasons, aren't those Friends even the tiniest bit sick of each other? Nah. "We're planning a dinner party once every month," says Matthew Perry. "Really, we are."...

Charlize Theron was glad to spend her pre-Oscar week filming a commercial in L.A. for Lux, a line of Japanese bath products. "It's a good thing," she says. "I won't think too much about Sunday night."...

Sharon Osbourne recently shot a guest-starring role on Will & Grace playing a lesbian bartender. A crew from her talk show was on hand to document her acting debut....

As I told you last week, Lena Horne didn't want Janet Jackson to play her in an upcoming ABC musical biopic. Guess what? Horne got her wish, and this week Jackson said bye-bye.

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