13/07/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin
Former Georgia Congressman Ben Jones, who played Cooter on the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, has blasted the new film version to be released in August 2005.
In an open letter to the fans of the show on his Web site, Jones says that "rather than honoring our legendary show, they have chosen to degrade it." He closes by saying that fans should send the producers a message that says, "If you don't clean it up, we're not going to see it." He adds, "Maybe a kick in their pocketbook will get their attention."
Jones, who was defeated by Newt Gingrich in 1994, now operates two "Dukes of Hazzard" museums, in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tenn.
The series is now having a very successful cable run on CMT based in Nashville, Tenn.
Below is the letter as it appears on Jones' Web site http://www.cootersplace.com:
I thought this would be a good time to let everybody know my feelings about the upcoming "Dukes of Hazzard" feature film, since if it weren't for the "Dukes" fans, our show would have been long since "put out to pasture." The folks who love our show have kept it alive and well, despite the lack of respect it has been shown by "Hollywood."
Web sites like ours have been an extraordinary means of communication for the "Dukes" community. The power of the internet has enabled us to not only keep the show viable, but to help make it a hit show all over again. CMT is getting record ratings and the kids of America think it is a new show. In our business, it doesn't get much better than that.
Like our fans, those of us who worked on the show have a special affection for it. For over 25 years we have cared about it, nourished it, and fought for it. And it seems to me that it is time for us to have our voices heard again. From all I have seen and heard, the "Dukes" movie is a sleazy insult to all of us who have cared about the "Dukes of Hazzard" for so long.
You probably know that the creators of this film wanted absolutely nothing to do with the original members of the cast. Doesn't that seem strange to you, given how popular our show is right now, and how popular our cast still is? After all, our huge success for so many years is the reason they are making the film, and the film, after all, is about us.
In the last few years I reckon I've done many hundreds of interviews around the country on radio and television and for dozens of newspapers. I always tell them that ours is a classic family show with positive values, great action, wonderful slapstick comedy, mighty fine country music, and a very gifted cast who had great chemistry. America could tell that we were clearly enjoying what we were doing and for that hour folks could forget their troubles and just have fun along with us. It is exactly the kind of entertainment that families crave right now.
Lately most of the interviewers want to know my opinion of the "movie" version that is coming out in August. I've always tried to be candid with my opinions, and when it comes to this film, I think it would be a mistake for me to pull the punches. Like you, I haven't seen the film, but I have read the script, I've talked to a lot of people who worked on the set, and I've seen the raunchy TV commercial. Frankly, I think the whole project shows an arrogant disrespect for our show, for our cast, for America's families, and for the sensibilities of the heartland of our country.
Unless they clean it up before the August 5th release date I would strongly recommend that true blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up. And whatever you do, don't take any youngsters to see it. As plain as I can put it, the only thing this movie shares with our show is the title. Oh, they do have the General Lee flying through the air, although according to the New York Times, they didn't even use stunt drivers.
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. 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.
When CMT brought our series back on the air in February of this year, 23 million viewers tuned in on that first weekend. Very few, if any, movies have ever matched those kind of numbers for an opening weekend. Our show is a hit right now! Very young children have fallen in love with the "Dukes" on CMT, just as their parents did 25 years ago. They love the positive values of our show, its wholesome friendliness, and the fact that Bo and Luke are heroes who always make the right moral choice. How can the producers of this film be so cynical, so jaded, so out of touch with America's heartland as to trash a great family show in this way?
Well, there may not be much we can do, but we have to do all we can. Let's send them a message: "If you don't clean it up, we're not going to see it." Maybe a kick in their pocketbook will get their attention.
The Hon. Ben Jones The BriarPatch Washington,Va.
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