Girl Power's red alert: Geri Halliwell bolts the band, but will she become a spice wreck?
In the world of sugar and spice and everything nice, this went down like a jalapeño: On May 31, Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell, 25, quit the Spice Girls, the tart pop posse, with a vague statement blaming "differences between us" and concluding, "P.S., I'll be back."
That declaration did nothing to end speculation on why Ginger was leaving and what she will do in her post-Spice era. "She is actually quite ill, in terms of mental and physical exhaustion," theorizes Britain's Sunday Mirror columnist Ian Hyland, who notes that Geri had skipped the group's two shows in Oslo last month complaining of stomach woes. Or maybe Geri lost a battle with Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown for the Spice presidency. "Geri's a leader," says Bob Herbert, who created the pre-fab five in 1994 when they answered an ad searching for female pop singers. "She's an organizer—very strong. You've got other strong characters in the band as well." Sean Hoare, showbiz reporter for the British tabloid The Sun, was more blunt: "Mel B. and Geri got on each other's nerves. Things have been simmering for about the last six months."
Possibly Halliwell, who is said to be mulling a career as a TV personality, simply tired of the Spice capades; since dumping manager Simon Fuller last year, the girls have been running their own empire. Says Hyland: "Rumor is that Geri became so disinterested in the whole thing because it was just falling around her ears, and she decided she wants to-move on." But as a potential solo act, the former topless model—who once hosted a game show in Turkey and was pictured nude in May's Playboy—isn't exactly Diana Ross; Halliwell's most-admired talents were probably her cheeky humor (she once pinched Prince Charles's behind) and her ability to squeeze into a Union Jack minidress. "Geri had admitted herself that she's not the best dancer and she's not got the best voice," says Hyland. Cynics might say that never stopped her before: Halliwell is reportedly worth $25 million as Girl Power has generated sales of 31 million albums, including last year's top seller, Spice; their film, Spice World, grossed about $80 million worldwide. The remaining Spices will soon begin a 39-city North American tour, but as for whether they will hire a replacement (Spice-a-Roni? Spice Cube?), Britain's Express reporter David Wigg believes "they don't really need one." Sporty, Baby, Posh and Scary are determined to power on, but one member predicted as recently as March, in the British magazine Q, that if anyone left, "I don't think we could carry on. It wouldn't be the same." That bittersweet Spice? Geri Halliwell.
Father Knows Best
With actor Charlie Sheen careening out of control, dad Martin has him arrested
For Martin Sheen, it was time for tough love. After his son Charlie, 32, walked out of a rehab clinic for the second time in five days, Martin, 57, went to the Malibu municipal courthouse on May 27 to say he believed Charlie was violating his probation—stemming from a '97 battery conviction—by using illegal drugs. "This is an extraordinary step," L.A. district attorney spokeswoman Victoria B. Pipkin told PEOPLE, adding that the elder Sheen acted "to basically save [Charlie's] life." Judge Lawrence Mira ordered Charlie Sheen to a detox center, then to an unidentified rehab clinic; warned him that he would be jailed if he walked out on treatment again; and told him to be back in court on July 1.
Other fathers who have lost children to drugs wish they had been as bold. Art Linkletter, 85, whose daughter Diane, 20, died in 1969 after plunging out of a window during an LSD trip, says, "Martin Sheen did the right thing. Charlie is so strongly into drugs that he can't handle it himself. This was a very good move and very courageous of [Martin] Sheen." He adds with regret, "If I'd known then what I know now, I would have had my daughter arrested then. It might have saved her life."
Dr. Quinn Gets Mouth-to-Mouth
Jane Seymour's campaign to stop CBS from canceling her long running Saturday night series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman may keep the franchise off its deathbed: The network is now developing a TV movie of the frontier doc saga which ran for six years. CBS insists the movie idea is unrelated to any cancellation backlash, but Seymour's spokesman says it wasn't proposed to her until the network received thousands of letters and e-mails from angry fans. "They're saying, 'What do you mean we're women and we don't count?' " Seymour told PEOPLE. " 'What do you mean that young people aren't watching the show?' They are!"
Marry Green WANTS TO KNOW
What's the most embarrassing thing your parents ever made you do?
A Perfect Murder's Viggo Mortensen
"They made me and my two brothers wear identical red shirts—with white pants—one Christmas."
"One day I didn't do my homework, so I pretended I was sick [at school], and my mom picked me up wearing sweatpants, white socks, high-heeled black shoes and a silk green shirt."
"When I was little, my mother would encourage me to slip under the subway turnstile."
No sole mio for Leo
Should Leonardo DiCaprio
ever tire of supermodels and nightclubs, the good people of Trentola Ducenta, Italy, are ready to welcome him with some pasta with beans and pig tails and much amore. After all, they think he's part of the family.
Armed with genealogical records, many in the gritty town near Naples, where 1,000 of the 14,000 residents are named DiCaprio, believe the King of the World is an heir to a native son who came to the U.S. near the turn of the century. Eager to clutch Leo to their collective bosom, the locals are planning to rename a piazza for the Titanic star—an event Mayor Michele Griffo wants Leo to attend "even though it may be a security problem because girls from all over southern Italy are sure to come."
Leo's people say he has never heard of Trentola Ducenta, but that hasn't cooled his wannabe kin. "If he doesn't have a girlfriend," giggles Sonia DiCaprio, 11, who traveled to a neighboring town in order to see Leo on the big screen, "I'll be her."
LARRY KING'S CASTLE
It may not be the palace at Versailles, but talk-TV monarch Larry King's palatial new home outside Washington, D.C., is just the place to celebrate his new $7 million annual contract with CNN. King, 64, and wife No. 6, singer Shawn Southwick, 38, have paid $792,500 for a newly built French-country style home in McLean, Va. The five-bedroom, four-bathroom stone-and-stucco house comes partially furnished with friends in the vicinity. "It's near Colin Powell," said King's spokesperson, "and that makes Larry happy."
Lost and Hound
Even royalty is no match for a mischievous pooch. Princess Caroline of Monaco, whose 3-year-old Lab, Jaffart, wandered off in the French town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, has been forced to have signs posted in shop windows saying, "Lost, Labrador, Jo Jo and Jef [Jaffart's siblings] are waiting for their friend." The princess (who is offering a reward, amount unspecified) isn't mentioned, nor is there a phone number on the signs; but townsfolk say everyone knows the straying canine is hers. Local baker Bruno Pigoury sighs, "It's not the first time she has wandered off. She is always running around the town." Maybe Jaffart just got tired of bowwowing and scraping.
Prom Teen Has Wright Stuff
David Showalter knows it never hurts to ask. Smitten by a video of country singer Chely Wright, the 6'6", 270-lb. high school senior from Altoona, Pa., wrote and asked Wright to his senior prom, and she accepted. "I'm flattered he thinks I'm neat," said Wright, 27, who danced with Showalter to her hit "I Already Do," before the pair headed to an amusement park and scavenged for coins under the Ferris wheel. "She is just so dang attractive," gushed Showalter, 19. "It was awesome. I had a blast."
THE NAME'S THE SAME: Sharon Stone
A missing pair of underwear "made my life miserable," but Sharon Stone of Humble, Texas, feels sorry for the lingerie-challenged star of Basic Instinct. "Could you imagine, after the teasing I get, what kind she must go through?" asks the 51-year-old mother of grown sons Darek, 28, and Brian, 25. While that Sharon was turning heads in Cannes last month with her new husband, Phil Bronstein, this Sharon was helping grind up tree stumps around Houston and riding shotgun in 51-year-old husband Bruce's truck. "My husband always says that there's nothing quite like the sight of a nice pile of mulch," Stone says.
Stone, who was a bottle blonde for the past five years but "never felt special for having it," says it's the odd day when someone doesn't make a crack about actress Sharon's man-eater image; she once had to tell off a fella who asked if she was a "floozy" like the characters the actress plays. "I usually let people have fun and go with it," Texas Sharon says, "but I do have my limits." She figures actress Sharon's push to win serious roles can only help her too. "As long as she does this and keeps her underwear on, I'm happy."
Texas may lack the glamor of Tinseltown, but it suits Stone just fine. "I've got a car in the garage for going places, a charge card, a little money in the bank and my church. That's all I need," Stone says. "I've got my little life, and she's got her big life." She wouldn't mind some new clothes though. "Give me sequins and lots of lace," she says. "I love that Dolly Parton look."