In any case, there are no plans for a Ginger replacement any time soon. "We're a four-piece now," Sporty says flatly. "We're comfortable with that." Comfortable enough to proceed as scheduled with a third Spice Girls album, due possibly as early as next spring. "But we are going to make a few changes," promises Scary. "We're still going to sound like Spice Girls, but there's going to be solos and duets, to make it more interesting." For the first time, some of the Spices are branching out into non-Spice projects: Scary, for one, just cut a track with rap queen Missy Elliott for the soundtrack of the forthcoming Frankie Lymon biopic Why Do Fools Fall in Love? and may end up recording something with Prince (looks like that party may have paid off).
If there's a subtle subtext to all this nonchalant confidence and après Ginger activityshe sucked, we're better off without herthe Spice Girls are far too cagey to openly admit it. The group has always fiercely guarded its secrets: Fuller, for instance, reportedly received a 10-million-pound severance check to keep quiet about the details of his sacking. So while there are plenty of juicy theories floating around as to why Halliwell quit--she lost a power struggle with Scary, she alienated the other Spices with her hypercritical lashings, she hogged too much of the spotlight, take your pickall of them remain unproven and officially denied...at least for now.
One thing's for sure: Ginger certainly isn't talking. Since the split, she's been lying low in Paris, avoiding reporters, and mulling over her prospects. Among the rumored possibilities: a part in Luc Besson's Joan of Arc movie, a role opposite Johnny Depp in Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate, and a gig hosting a British-TV variety series. She did pop into New York a few weeks ago to catch her friend Alan Cumming on Broadway, but the Cabaretstar isn't exactly brimming with hot gossip. "In leaving, I'm sure Geri has a sense of relief" is about all he'll say. "The press was with her everywhere. It was very stressful."
Fortunately, there are some other potential Deep Throats inside the Spice Girls circlefour of them, in factand right now they're all conveniently sitting on a sofa in the group's dressing room at the Garden. Turns out the Spice Mums have flown in from England for the concert. With a little Yankee charm and professional-journalist-caliber schmoozing, getting these out-of-towners to spill some beans when their daughters aren't listening should be a snap. "When Emma comes home, she's just the same person she always was," Baby Spice's mother, Pauline, 44, fesses up between bites of exotic American cuisine (Kentucky Fried Chicken). "But then I turn on the telly and she's all over the place! It's so hard to get your head around it." Posh's mom, Jackie, age unknown, is about to serve up an even tastier slice of behind-the-scenes Spice Life"I think the group is much tighter since Ginger left," she beginsbut then her daughter bursts back into the room, morphing into Livid Spice. "You aren't interviewing our mums, are you?" she asks incredulously. "That would be really unfair."