People Staff
February 03, 2005 06:00 AM

As filming of The Dukes of Hazzard winds down, Jessica Simpson has been making the most of her time in Louisiana, enjoying a recent day of shopping in New Orleans with a posse of pals. Simpson and three girlfriends descended upon Garden District vintage boutique Funky Monkey, where the Newlyweds star “bought a red ’70s disco dress, which was really cute,” says a spy. “She also bought some brown cowboy boots and a cropped vintage jacket,” plus a crystal and stone choker. Though Simpson and Co. were without bodyguards, people mostly left them alone, we’re told – but for autograph seekers who did approach, Simpson “took a Sharpie out of her purse and signed them.”

Apparently the store is a favorite among celebrities: Our spy says visitors have included Jude Law and fiancée Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid and new bride Kim Buffington (the In Good Company star picked up a T-shirt emblazoned with a skull-and-crossbones), Johnny Knoxville, Melanie Griffith, Parker Posey and Christina Ricci.

Perks of the Job
They all say it’s an honor just to be nominated … but the perks aren’t bad either for Oscar hopefuls Hilary Swank, Kate Winslet, Imelda Staunton, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Annette Bening. Each received an early morning treat following the announcement of their nominations: Kerstin Florian International gift baskets, stocked with $5,000 worth of treats including luxury robes, slippers and a bucketful of Krug champagne.

Basket Ball
The mood in the East Room of the White House was jovial this week when President Bush mixed it up with 2004 NBA champs the Detroit Pistons. “So nobody expected you to win – I know how you feel,” he joked. With the players towering around him, Bush praised them for setting “a wonderful example for kids on playgrounds.” (No mention was made of the infamous brawl at the team’s November game against the Indiana Pacers, which resulted in a six-game suspension for Piston Ben Wallace.) “As you know, a lot of kids look at you. They see you as the big star,” Bush said. “They wonder what life should be like, and every time you set an example for a kid to make a right choice in life, you’re helping save a life.” He also praised the Pistons for their literacy work and help with tsunami relief. The team presented Bush with an autographed basketball and a Pistons jersey with “BUSH ’04” on the back.

Caught in the Act
Spotted Recently:
Keanu Reeves, dining with actress Claire Forlani at the chic Asia de Cuba restaurant in L.A.’s Mondrian hotel.


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