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Bacall Blasts Kidman's Screen Status

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Lauren Bacall, veteran tough girl of the silver screen, has publicly balked at a description of her latest costar, Nicole Kidman, as a “legend.”

“She’s not a legend. She’s a beginner,” Bacall, who’s held her own against such icons as Humphrey Bogart (to whom she was married) and Gregory Peck, snapped to an interviewer on Britain’s GMTV.

The Associated Press said that the notoriously outspoken Bacall – who has maintained a contentious relationship with the press for half a century – cut off the morning TV show’s Jenni Falconer in mid-sentence.

“What is this ‘legend’?” Bacall said to her. “She can’t be a legend at whatever age she is. She can’t be a legend, you have to be older.”

Kidman, 37, and Bacall, soon to run 80, are currently at the Venice Film Festival to promote their new film Birth, directed by Jonathan Glazer. In it, Bacall plays Kidman’s mother – and the two claim to have gotten along well.

“I love working with a young actress,” Bacall said at a press conference in the Italian city, stressing that she and Kidman, who last year costarred together in Lars von Trier’s controversial Dogville, “were friends when we started this. That laid the groundwork for our fabulous relationship on screen and off.”

There also was no sign of tension on Wednesday, when the pair were side-by-side at the gala presentation ofBirth.

The film, which reportedly was booed at its critics screening in Venice, has given birth to its own controversy. Kidman is shown taking a bath with a 10-year-old boy whom her character believes is a reincarnation of her dead husband. (The film’s distributor, New Line, said that neither Kidman nor the young actor, newcomer Cameron Bright, were actually nude during shooting.)

She also kisses the boy in the movie, but, Kidman said at a press conference: “It wasn’t that I wanted to make a film where I kiss a 10-year-old boy. I wanted to make a film where you understand love. I responded to this woman who is in mourning.”

Eventually, says AP, Kidman was asked so many questions by reporters that she grew embarrassed and asked them to direct their questions elsewhere.