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updated 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 01:00AM

Nightmare Shoot
Having brought her daughter Ireland, 4, on location to KwaZuluNatal, South Africa, where she filmed her drama I Dreamed of Africa, opening May 5, Kim Basinger found it nearly impossible to childproof the set. "My first responsibility is as a mom," says Basinger, 46, who was also making her first movie since her Oscar-winning performance in 1997's L.A. Confidential. "And I was terrified. All these signs were up: 'Don't touch this plant'; 'Don't go near the water.' But she can't read. And there were little tiny green frogs that my daughter was very attracted to. But this white stuff would foam up, and they would spit it at you. It was poison. She was also attracted to bush spiders that would come up on our porch on a daily basis. And puff adder snakes, which are poisonous, were everywhere. They just want to be left alone in the sun." Adds Basinger: "Try telling that to a toddler."

Fair Game
In the new sports drama Love & Basketball, Omar Epps portrays a college hoops star who gets his heart stolen by a women's b-ball player (Sanaa Lathan). The actor says that he didn't let up on his female costar at all when it came time to play. "I was a little cruel to her during the one-on-ones," says Epps, 26, who trained for his role with basketball coaches from the UCLA Bruins. "Look, I'm a competitor, so anything was fair. I don't discriminate on gender, race or creed. You come on the court with me and you're gonna get it like one of the boys." Even if you, like Lathan, are Epps's real-life girlfriend? "We talked about it," he says. "And she did not want me stopping a take to go, 'Oh, baby, did you stub your toe?' "

Newman's Own Story
At age 75, screen legend Paul Newman says he's pretty much given up on the idea of ever penning his autobiography. "Actually, at one point that was really in the works," says Newman, who costars with Linda Fiorentino and Dermot Mulroney in the heist drama Where the Money Is. "I think I've got about 10,000 pages of interviews that were done by a friend of mine. These go way, way back to grammar school and during the war. It includes early days in Hollywood." But Newman insists that he was not impressed by what was collected. "God, it's boring stuff!" he says. "I bored myself to tears reading it. Just to chronicle my life? Please! Who wants to read about what I did in July of 1964?" That is, he adds, "unless you can't sleep one night and need a little something to make you groggy."

A New Direction
Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia, who makes her film directorial debut with the new dramaThe Virgin Suicides, could commiserate with her husband, Spike Jonze, whose own freshman effort, Being John Malkovich, won him a Best Director Oscar nomination. "We both shot our first movies at the same time," says Coppola, 28, whose cast includes Danny DeVito, Kathleen Turner, James Woods and Kirsten Dunst. "In a way it was bad, because we were newly-weds and these movies were taking over our lives. Any other groom would have been really mad that his bride was so occupied. But we could understand what the other person was thinking and feeling. We could comfort each other during the rough moments." Even so, Coppola doesn't think the two, who wed last June, will ever collaborate. "I can't see us working together," she says. "We're both too bossy. It wouldn't be good for our marriage."

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