Scoop

updated 09/18/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/18/2000 01:00AM

Girlpower Outage
Posh, Sporty, Scary and Baby face a Spiceworld peppered with problems

Focus

Spices in crises? That may be an over-statement–but life has certainly gotten bumpier for Britain's frothy girl group. Before she was sent to bed with a case of viral meningitis, Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice), 26, and her husband, soccer superstar David Beckham, 25, tried to block publication of an unauthorized bio by Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton. They managed to cut just 200 words. Meanwhile, Melanie Brown (Scary), 25, and estranged husband Jimmy Gulzar, 33, have been exchanging charges in British newspapers about the 1999 breakup of their 15-month marriage. He blames her duplicity over her secret breast-implant surgery, saying he feared it would prevent her breast-feeding their daughter Phoenix Chi, now 18 months; she counters that Gulzar lacked spice in bed.

Even soft-spoken Melanie Chisholm (Sporty), 26, has made curious headlines. In an interview, she denied rumors she's a lesbian, but added, "If I was gay, I'd be proud. Sometimes I wish I was, because men are so crap." Earlier this summer, ex-Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell, 28, upset the Vatican with a bawdy performance during a gay pride festival in Rome.

What's gone wrong? "I think they're struggling a bit," says British entertainment reporter Rick Sky. "Their fans have grown up." They're not the only ones. "People grow older," says Posh's mom, Jackie Adams, "and problems change."

A Baby? Hoo Haa!
Al Pacino, 60, and his companion, Beverly D'Angelo, 48, are expecting a baby by early next year. "They're very pleased, and it's her first," says publicist Pat Kingsley. Pacino has a 10-year-old daughter, Julie, with acting coach Jan Tarrant.

Et tu, Maximus

In A.D. 455 Rome fell to the Vandals. On Sept. 3, 2000, the Roman-themed Circus Maximus showroom at Las Vegas's Caesars Palace fell to the villas–fancy quarters for high rollers that will be built where Frank, Sammy and even Liberace performed. "This room represents the essence of Las Vegas," said Tony Curtis, who was on hand. "You feel it in your bones."

Fittingly, veterans Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme rang down the final curtain on the 34-year-old 900-seat room, with a farewell show that included a highlights film. "It was an honor," says Lawrence, 65. "But it was sad too." Phyllis McGuire, of the McGuire Sisters, recalled a night in 1977 when she and Johnny Carson had to fill in for Sinatra after his mother, Dolly, died in a plane crash. When singer Lou Rawls opened for the erratic Judy Garland in 1967, "they never knew if she would make it on time," he says. "I had to stay out there until she walked through the door." Maximus regular Julio Iglesias wants to keep a piece of the stage. There are, he says, "memories in that beautiful wood."

Smile and say, 'Formaggio!'
Need to attract movie stars at the end of summer? Did you say Venice? Andiamo! The Italian city's 57th annual film festival was flooded with celebs–including Harvey Keitel, Cate Blanchett, James Garner, Christina Ricci and Clint Eastwood–touting their respective films along the Lido. Things weren't all work, says Phil Bronstein, who accompanied his wife and amfAR AIDS charity auction host Sharon Stone: "We've snuck in romance in between engagements."

Through a lens, darkly: Brad Pitt's house beautiful
In at least one significant way, Brad Pitt's latest pictures are a radical departure from his previous work: They're infrared. Jennifer Aniston's husband contributed a photo essay of 21 black-and-white snapshots–using film that is sensitive to rays of lights invisible to the naked eye–to the coffee-table tome Greene & Greene: The Blacker House (due out this month), which documents architect Randell L. Makinson's five-year restoration of the Arts & Crafts Robert Roe Blacker house in Pasadena. Makinson, Pitt's architect, asked for his input after admiring some photos the actor gave him as a gift.

POP QUIZ

With Paul Hogan

G'day, mate–fancy a bit of wombat? The next round of Survivor, which begins shooting in October (to be broadcast on CBS starting in January), will maroon 16 contestants somewhere deep in the parched, unforgiving Australian Outback. Scoop checked in with the Big Daddy Down Under, Paul Hogan, who is filming Crocodile Dundee III on the Queensland Gold Coast, for survival tips.

Three items to bring?

A full esky [cooler] of coldies [cans of cold beer], a bed and a tent.

What would you do if a crocodile attacked?

I'd be okay because I'd just hypnotize it. Anyone else should run in a zigzag–crocodiles can only run fast in a straight line.

You're climbing a cliff alongside your colleagues. Do you push anyone off?

Definitely. I've seen the first program. The aim is to maim.

In the barren desert, where will you find your food supply?

McDonald's. They're everywhere–always just over the hill from where you are.

Do you know any tricks for starting a fire?

Matches, mate. Or else get two twigs and rub them together very, very hard. You won't get a fire, but you will keep warm doing all that rubbing.

You stumble on a colony of venomous spiders. How do you approach them?

Very carefully. The big ones are actually quite edible so long as you get rid of the poison. They taste like chicken. Or that's what the bushmen say. According to them, everything tastes like chicken. Rats, snakes...

You're in the bush with another contestant and you see a deadly snake coming toward you. What do you do?

I'd tell the other guy it was a very tasty carpet snake and would make a good dinner.

You're trying not to get voted off. How would you appeal to the men?

I'd feed them.

The women?

I'd feed them too, but I'd make sure it was low-calorie.

How would you stay strong?

With food and rest. It'd be no use doing any exercise because that would just make you hungrier. That Rich was pretty fat, remember.

What would you be most afraid of?

Not winning.

ON THE BLOCK

SELLING GIANNI'S PLACE
After more than a year on the market, the Miami Beach villa that belonged to fashion designer Gianni Versace has a buyer. Peter Loftin, a North Carolina telecommunications entrepreneur, paid $19 million for Casa Casuarina, the 20,000-sq.-ft. 12-bedroom home where the Italian-born Versace lived for four years before he was gunned down on the house's front steps in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan. While the deal falls short of the original $23 million price tag, a Versace family spokesman said that Gianni's sister and successor Donatella is "happy" with the sale. That's no surprise: According to real estate broker Alan Jacobson, it's the highest price ever for a home in Miami-Dade County, surpassing the $16.2 million Sylvester Stallone got for his mansion last December.

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