GETTING TO KNOW LOU
Lou Diamond Phillips is following in the bare footsteps of the late Yul Brynner as the all-powerful autocrat in The King and I, the Broadway revival of the 1951 Rodgers and Ham-merstein musical, but he never considered shaving his head. "That would have fed into the whole Yul Brynner image," says Phillips, 34, who received a Tony nod for Best Actor. "The haircut I wear is an ancient Thai design that the King of Siam wore. There are etchings and paintings of him with this haircut. I felt a little strange walking around New York when I first got it cut. But the truth of the matter is, it's kind of hip. There are a lot of teenagers out there with this haircut." Even the Big Apple's famous ambassadors of goodwill acknowledge his sovereignty. "Now, cab drivers recognize me and shout out of their windows, 'Hey, King! Need a ride?' "

A LITTLE HELP FROM MAMA
Little Kim is the breakout star (and only female member) of the hip, hot, nine-member pop-rap group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., whose No. 2 rap single, "Get Money," has gone mainstream, jumping into the Top 20 on the charts. "I'm little, but I do big things," says Kim (née Kim Jones), 21, who insists she stands 5 feet tall. "I get stressed out when I read in a magazine that I'm 47"." Among the guys in her group, she's known as Little Kim, the Big Mama. "That's because I take care of the boys," she says. "It's like, 'We've got to have Kim with us at all times.' Plus, I help them [meet] girls. They're like, 'Kim, look at her. Go over there and hook me up.' "

IN A GALAXY NOT FAR AWAY
While many of his Melrose Place castmates relax during the show's hiatus, Andrew Shue is running his dogs off as a midfielder for the Los Angeles Galaxy, a pro soccer team. Although Shue, who played professionally in Zimbabwe after graduating from Dartmouth in 1989, pulled a hamstring in the mid-April season opener, he returned to the field May 12. "It doesn't seen real," says Shue, 29, who signed a one-year contract with the team and will play—mostly at night and on weekends—even when Melrose resumes shooting in July. "Playing before 69,000 people at the Rose Bowl is like a Forrest Gump moment, hearing the crowd chant, 'Shue, Shue.' " Off the field, the actor will deepen his bench when his wife, former agent Jennifer Hageney, has their first baby in July. Shue insists he won't be a pushy parent but says, "I'm sure we'll have balls around the house for him or her to bounce around."

AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS
Reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Pete Sampras, who begins competing this week in Paris at the French Open (May 27-June 9), likes to unwind by watching political pundits trade volleys each night on CNN's Crossfire. "It's a great way of watching adults act like children in this smart person's sandbox," says the No. 1-ranked player, a Republican who fondly recalls the grand old days on Crossfire when pugnacious conservative Pat Buchanan "really gave it to that chirping bird, [liberal] Michael Kinsley." Sampras, 24, received his first invitation to the White House in 1990, when he played doubles with then President George Bush. "Bush was a big tennis fan. He sent me notes." The three-time U.S. Open winner has yet to hear from the current chief. "I hear Bill Clinton's a pretty nice guy," says Sampras. "But I haven't been invited to his White House. I don't know what I've got to do for that." Switch parties, maybe?