Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Resurgence of `Dukes' Earns Cooter Cool Cash

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Resurgence of `Dukes' Earns Cooter Cool Cash

Article excerpt

SPERRYVILLE, Va. -- Since Cooter's Place opened in June, the reaction from fans of the goofball television series The Dukes of Hazzard has been an unequivocal YEEEEHAAAAW!

The cramped general store built in an old garage on Route 211 near Shenandoah National Park has become a Dukes museum of sorts, with hundreds of visitors on weekend afternoons.

That has made actor Ben Jones -- Cooter the greasy mechanic and a former Georgia congressmen -- happier than a pig in slop, in Dukes lingo.

"It's phenomenal," said Jones, his sleeveless shirt soaked with sweat from hustling to greet customers. "The show seems to have found a new generation, which is just as enthusiastic about it."

For those unfamiliar with Hazzard County, the series featured hunky country cousins Bo and Luke Duke and backwoods babe Daisy Duke, the corpulent and corrupt Boss Hogg and nincompoop Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, among others. It was canceled in 1985 by CBS following a seven-year run in prime time.

Now, 14 years later, the show is undergoing a resurgence in popularity.

There are Dukes of Hazzard fan clubs, conventions and Internet sites, including at least one in French. In addition, a lively trade of Dukes memorabilia has sprung up on Internet auction sites.

Fans have visited Cooter's from as far away as Germany, Australia and Italy, said Jones' wife, Alma Viator. She recalled one fan who was insulted when asked if the show could be seen back home.

"Of course, we know the Dukes in Botswana," the fan responded.

Jones thanks The Nashville Network for reviving Duke-mania. When TNN began airing repeats in 1996, the network's advertising revenues jumped 21 percent, network executives said.

"From the first day, the numbers popped," said Brian Hughes, vice president of programming for TNN. "There was instant recognition. It was amazing. …

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