updated 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Vanessa Williams says that costarring in the comedy-drama Soul Food, opening Sept. 26, was dangerous business for someone concerned with maintaining her shape. "I wasn't even thinking about fitting in my jeans," says Williams, 34, of the heartily catered set that stirred childhood memories of family road trips. "There'd be turkey, mac and cheese, [collard] greens. And string beans. And sweet potato pie. And pound cake." Leaving the set didn't necessarily help. "The worst was when I asked for a slice of peach cobbler to take home and was given a whole pie," says Williams. "Me in a hotel room on location with a whole pie is not a pretty thing."

Openly heterosexual actor Kevin Kline, who stars as a would-be straight teacher outed in the new comedy In & Out when one of his former students accepts an Academy Award, admits that his own sexuality was once called into question. "Actually, before we were dating, my wife Phoebe [Cates] said she saw me in Sophie's Choice and assumed I was gay," says Kline, 49, who has been married to the actress since 1989. "I said, 'Hmmmm, really? Why is that?' She said, 'Well, because you moved your hands so much in that movie. And you seem so, uh, clean.' It's funny because those are the two reasons why the high school kids in In & Out think that my character is gay."

When NBC's top-rated drama ER begins its fourth season with a live episode this Thursday, Sept. 25, a preoccupied George Clooney could be excused for being tempted to improvise some of his lines. "The live show is on the day before Peacemaker opens," says Clooney, 36, who costars with Nicole Kidman in the big-screen action thriller. "I've been joking with Anthony Edwards that in the middle of a key operation scene I'm gonna say, 'Can we hurry it up because I've got to get out of here and see that cool new movie The Peacemaker?' " But Edwards was quick to cut his pal down to size. Says Clooney: "Tony warned that if I say that, he is going to go, 'The Peacemaker? I heard that movie stinks.' "

For Jane Seymour, even a bout with leptospirosis, a tropical disease, couldn't ruin her family-style summer in Puerto Rico, where she was shooting a new big-screen version of Swiss Family Robinson. "I was blissfully happy about the whole thing until I got sick," says the star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, whose husband, James Keach, played her spouse in the movie, the story of a family marooned after a shipwreck. "He got really, really fit for this, as did I. I don't know what Dr. Quinn's going to do with the muscles." For her four children, the elaborate set was a ready-made playground. "We had a bunch of tree houses," says Seymour, 46, "and a rope that you swung across." In fact, she wouldn't mind being stranded for a while on a tropical isle. "There's something very magical about the jungle," she says, "and eating all my favorite foods, like coconut and mango." What would she miss? "Antibiotics."

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