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Jessica Simpson Samples Britney

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Turns out pop star Jessica Simpson, who recently started the Dessert body scent line, is curious to see how other celebrity products match up to hers. The Newlyweds star was spotted last week in a Baton Rouge, La., mall taking a whiff of Britney Spears’s new perfume, Curious. “She smelled Britney Spears,” a Foley’s store sales associate tells PEOPLE, though Simpson didn’t end up buying any. Another sales clerk says the truly curious ones were the shoppers scrambling to get a glimpse of Simpson, who was being followed by her ubiquitous MTV camera crew. “They had to sneak her down the hall, people were chasing her,” she says. “When Britney’s here, it’s almost like nobody cares anymore. But people were lined up to see Jessica when they heard she was here.” Simpson is in Louisiana shooting the film version of the ’80s TV sitcom The Dukes of Hazzard.

Ray’s Female Intuition
After portraying Ray Charles’s backup singer and mistress Margie Hendricks in the biopic Ray, actress Regina King understands how the R&B legend charmed the ladies. “Women are always asking men to pay attention to us more, and because he was blind, he used all of his other senses,” says King. “Most men pay attention to the exterior – ‘Oh, she’s got a nice rack.’ Ray paid attention to all those little nuances that most men don’t (notice). He had this captivating hold on women. What man is not going to run with that?”

He’s So Animated
Harry Connick Jr. is planning to jump on the animation bandwagon again in the not-too-distant future. The crooner, who lent his voice to Incredibles director Brad Bird’s 1999 critically acclaimed film The Iron Giant, recently signed a deal to turn his 2003 Christmas song “The Happy Elf” into a holiday special that he hopes will premiere during the 2005 holiday season. “I had a great time doing Iron Giant,” says the singer. “The song, ‘The Happy Elf,’ just kind of lent itself to what I was doing with Brad. Animation just seemed like a natural way to tell the story” of Eubie, one of Santa’s helpers, who struggles to bring his optimistic outlook to the aptly titled town of Bluesville.

Caught in the Act
Spotted Recently:
Jennifer Lopez, getting a hot-oil hair treatment as well as a manicure and pedicure at Femme Coiffure hair salon and spa at the Bal Harbour Shops in Miami Beach. Her husband Marc Anthony waited patiently for his bride while she was pampered.

Jennifer Beals, at the Manhattan club Pink Elephant. Chloe Sevigny was also at the nightspot to listen to her brother Paul, a former commodities trader who is now a DJ.