updated 03/27/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

It was a very romantic evening the other night for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. as they dined at a corner table at Nobu in Malibu. The actors talked and giggled for hours over sake and salmon tartar, Prinze stroking Gellar's face. Just before he paid the bill, Prinze and his date shared a lengthy kiss. Her rep declined to comment; his did not return calls.

It quickly became obvious on the set of Me, Myself and Irene that Jim Carrey had eyes for costar Renée Zellweger, whom he is now dating. "You could see that he really flipped for her," says Bobby Farrelly, who produced and directed the comedy with his brother Peter. "She played him like a yo-yo." According to both of the brothers, Zellweger's initial resistance drove Carrey nuts. "She was just holding him off until she was ready," Peter says.

Ever since he gained attention for The Green Mile, the prison drama's gentle giant Michael Clarke Duncan has joked that the good news about his sudden fame is that fans stop him in the street. The bad news? "They always think I'm Ving Rhames," said Duncan, who was thrilled to see Rhames at ShoWest, the movie industry's convention in Las Vegas, where they both accepted acting awards. As they posed together for photographers, Duncan said, "Here's proof positive that we're not the same person."

Kim Basinger braved snake-infested terrain in South Africa for months while shooting her upcoming movie, I Dreamed of Africa. But she didn't do it alone: For moral support she brought along husband Alec Baldwin and their 4-year-old daughter, Ireland, who quickly adapted to her temporary home. "She played with the little Zulu kids," Basinger says, "and knew all their Zulu names, which she was saying when she came home."

Ben Affleck had a hairy experience while taping Craig Kilborn's Late Late Show recently. Before the show, Affleck had his hair trimmed backstage—and the trimmings were passed out to lucky audience members (not his idea). According to my source, some women even saved the sexy star's locks in their handbags.

Matt Damon can count at least one new fan in his coterie as well. While filming All the Pretty Horses, directed by Billy Bob Thornton, Damon taught his costar, sultry Spanish actress Penélope Cruz (All About My Mother), how to bowl. "He's my teacher. He's a great bowler," Cruz says. "At first, my score was like 30-something. I never bowled in Madrid." They hit local lanes near their shooting locations in Texas and New Mexico. Cruz now finds she can't stay off the lanes, saying, "I grew addicted to it."

Fast Takes: When actress and Hollywood Squares mainstay Whoopi Goldberg received the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Ruby Award acknowledging her influential career, she remarked that it came at a good time. "It's great to be reminded that I'm more than just a Square," said Whoopi....

What's the hardest part about preparing for the Oscars? "Dress stress," says Chloë Sevigny, a nominee for Boys Don't Cry, who has yet to find the perfect outfit. "That's the biggest problem."

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