NEWS: OCTOBER 2002
26.08.2002 I'VE FOUND A MAN WHO MAKES ME HAPPY
POP queen Geri Halliwell has finally found the lover who can help her change her life.
She has swapped a string of celebrity boyfriends for quiet, self-effacing Demian Walker...and she couldn't be more pleased.
"I think we all know that relationships haven't been one of my strong points," she says, shooting him a smile.
"It's early days for us but Demian makes me happy and that's all I could ask for. That's enough for me. This is my first proper relationship for ages."
Former Spice Girl Geri, whose astonishing new autobiography Just For The Record is serialised in the News of the World from next week, looks a long-overdue picture of health and happiness as we chat.
She and Demian reportedly met in an LA rehabilitation clinic where they were both supposedly receiving therapy.
The 26-year-old American is a subject that Geri prefers to keep private, but when pressed, she agrees to put the record straight.
"We met in a pet shop in California, looking at puppies," she says. "And, if I remember rightly, I was looking pretty hideous. It wasn't a good hair day!
"But they always say you meet someone when you least expect it, and that couldn't be more true for me. Finding a boyfriend was absolutely the last thing on my mind when I met Demian.
"For the first month, I even got his name wrong, poor thing, and kept calling him Damian."
But Demian had problems of his own—he didn't realise this girl called Geri was a star. "Then, one day, we were at a rodeo together," Geri smiles, "and someone screamed, ‘Oh my God, you're Geri Halliwell!'
Demian thought it was bizarre that a complete stranger would know who I was but, after that, the cat was kind of out of the bag.
"But we have a very normal, down-to-earth relationship. We still like going to the pet shop, getting the puppies out and pretending we're going to buy them.
"And the other thing we like doing is just going down the arcade, hanging out and playing the fruit machines. There's nothing remotely showbiz about us.
"Over the last few months, I've remembered what it's like to be a human being again and I've really been enjoying it.
"On the one hand, when you date someone famous they know exactly what it feels like to be in the glare of 10,000 people screaming at you and exactly how drained you feel at the end of the day.
"But they can also get on your nerves because all they want to talk about is showbiz!
"Life is a messy experience and, in the past, I simply wasn't ready to commit. I think becoming famous arrested my development.
"I was emotionally immature and, as a result, unable to have strong, intimate relationships with men.
"I appreciate that, for Demian, there's an awful lot of baggage to take on board and it requires a huge amount of tolerance. It's not glamorous. Only time will tell how he copes with my fame."
And how is she coping with her new role as a judge, along with record producer Pete Waterman and Boyzone manager Louis Walsh, on TV's Popstars: The Rivals? "Pete called me on my mobile while I was driving down to San Francisco and asked me to be on the show," Geri explains. "He flattered me basically and we hit it off immediately. Pete is going to produce my next album.
"And you know what the weird thing is? My mother saw him on telly and said: ‘He looks so much like your father!' So now I think I'm Pete's secret love child!"
Geri is momentarily floored when I tell her that Louis hasn't been nearly so supportive, branding her a "talent-less, tone-deaf fame seeker".
"You know what?" she says, recovering quickly, "Louis is a cutie and I get on with them both. We have this secret guessing game we play sometimes, called Spot The Song, because sometimes we can't even recognise the song that's being sung it's so bad.
"And that's made me realise that sometimes we take our own talents for granted—because I'm thinking, ‘You know what? I'm really good!'
She adds: "I feel very privileged to be in this powerful position. I have the power to make or break someone's life. I believe that I have a gift for spotting talent.
"I can spot sparkle in someone but if I feel that someone can take me being a bit brutal then—without crushing their dreams completely—I'll say exactly what I feel.
"I told one girl, ‘You're as good as someone I've just put through and you're equally as beautiful, but you're only half-hearted about this, so I'm not prepared to put you through because of your attitude'.
"I'm interviewing for a very coveted pop job and I'm just not going to give that opportunity to someone who only half wants it.
"But it swings both ways. There was this guy with a dreadful goatee beard who auditioned and didn't get picked. He hadn't been to stage school or anything—he was just a carpet fitter. But he had such ambition and raw talent that I told him to go away, shave off his goatee then come back and try again. And now he's through. That really lifted my spirits.
"Sometimes you get these stage school showbiz luvvies and, even when you're telling them that they're not going through, they're still grinning, all eyes and teeth, going, ‘Oh, thank you very much', and being all redcoat about it. It's...interesting."
But how does Geri cope with the famous people who criticise her?
Robbie Williams described her as "a demonic little girl". Then, six months ago, George Michael accused her of being "obsessed with hype".
He said: "The real truth is that Geri is a lovely girl and, in some ways, she's a remarkable person.
"But it's very difficult to maintain a relationship with a person who lives for the press...when all I want to do is run away from that."
Still, Geri clearly has a thick skin and what's said in the heat of the moment doesn't seem to have any lasting effect. "I last spoke to George on his birthday, back in June," she says. "I love George. He's like my older brother and I hope he's in my life forever.
"As for Rob, he's the only living being in this whole planet who knows how I feel about leaving the Spice Girls. We have a relationship that's very brotherly-sisterly, very matey.
"But people come in and out of each other's lives like travelling companions."
So what about her old ‘travelling companions', the Spice Girls?
"I loved being part of a team and I did miss being part of the band," she says. "I still dream about them.
"But there comes that point in your life when you just have to move on. And I have."
12.08.2002 Geri walkout fury Popstars The Rivals
POPSTARS judges Geri Halliwell and Louis Walsh stormed off the set of the auditions after a huge bust-up with Pete Waterman.
The pair saw red when Waterman vetoed a male singer they thought should go through.
A Popstars insider told me: "It was chaotic — Geri started shouting at Pete, and Louis ended up lunging at him.
"Louis raged: ‘You can't be serious! Are you deaf? This guy should definitely go through. End of story. You're crazy Pete, he's good'.
"Pete kept saying, ‘No, I don't think so'. Even Geri was shouting, ‘Pete, come to your senses!'
"Then Louis got up and lunged for Pete but Geri was in the way.
"Their chairs fell to the ground and the tables skidded across. Louis and Geri then walked off and refused to return.
"As the auditions were nearly over, the crew decided they would stop there and packed up for the day."
The row happened on Friday—a day after Pete, who discovered Steps, and Westlife guru Louis nearly came to blows over their bands.
My ever-present insider said: "It was brewing all day as Louis kept having digs at Pete about Steps.
"He was constantly telling him how annoying they were and how he was holding him personally responsible for their ‘dire music'. Pete kept calm until filming stopped.
"Then he raged: ‘Westlife? Don't make me laugh, they're a joke. All they can sing are ballads. At least Steps could bloody dance!'
"Louis stood up to sort it out with him but Geri stepped in and cooled things down."
Yesterday Pete admitted Friday's bust-up on the ITV show's set. He told me: "Yes, we had a fight. It was a long day and things all got a bit out of hand."
Back in January Pete had a similar run-in with "Mr Nasty" Simon Cowell when both were judges on Pop Idol. Simon threatened to walk out of the show after he claimed Pete was talking "b****".
Yesterday Pete was still fuming over another incident on Friday.
Jingle Justin—a regular on Chris Moyles' Radio 1 show—and a mate "auditioned" as a blind duo, singing Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You.
But halfway into the song they discarded their white canes and dark glasses and started belting out I Can See Clearly Now.
Pete told me: "The BBC have crossed the line of decency. This guy pretended to be blind and Radio 1 condoned it. Outrageous."
The rivalry between him and Louis can't be hidden. The two music moguls will go head-to-head when they choose one band each for the Christmas No. 1 slot.
On the show, Pete will be creating a boyband while Louis will be finding his own all-girl group..
07.08.2002 Walsh Denies 'Geri Jibe'
Louis Walsh has denied reports Geri Halliwell made cruel comments to one of the contestants auditioning for Popstars: the Rivals. One hopeful claims Geri insulted her by saying she was "larger than life." But the Westlife manager says the only person who has been making any snide remarks is him. "Geri's a very nice girl and some of her one-liners are very funny, he told Radio 1. "The only problem with Geri is that if she fancies one of the guys, she wants to put them through to the next round, even if they can't sing." Geri had originally promised to be "honest but with compassion" when dealing with the pop wannabes. She joined Pete Waterman and Westlife manager Louis Walsh on the first day of auditions for the series in London.
07.08.2002 GERI COMES TO THE RESCUE
A lost child was reunited with her parents on a South Devon beach - thanks to pop star Geri Halliwell.
The former Spice Girl came to the aid of the child who had wandered off from her parents at Shaldon Water Carnival.
Organisers of Saturday's event had put out an appeal by loudspeaker after worried parents reported their daughter missing.
A few moments later she turned up safe and well - with Geri at her side.
Event secretary Kim Davies said: "We'd heard rumours that Geri was somewhere on the beach.
"We put out an appeal for the lost child and just a few moments later she turned up with Geri. I don't know if she had recognised her or not."
Geri also visited the village's main beach on Saturday and was spotted in Teignmouth earlier in the day. She visited a Teignmouth nail parlour and took the ferry from Back Beach over to Shaldon. It is believed she was staying at a local hotel and visiting friends who live in Shaldon. She was also spotted in the village walking her pet dog Harry..
06.08.2002 Geri blasted by fellow Popstars judge!
Ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has been branded a talentless fame seeker by Louis Walsh, her fellow judge on the new Popstars series. Walsh, the man behind Boyzone and Westlife told The Sun: 'Geri won't know about finding a singer because she is tone deaf. All the Spice Girls are tone deaf and that's why their solo careers failed. Geri has no talent, can't sing or dance and - like a lot of the kids who audition - is desperate for fame. She is just very glad and grateful to be on TV. She has a book coming out, after all!'
Walsh, 47, will join Geri and fellow judge Pete Waterman on the new panel for the new ITV series Popstars: The Rivals. The judges will select 10 pop wannabes from the show to form a boyband under Waterman and a rival girl band run by Walsh. The show will be screened in the autumn and both bands will release debut singles in time for Christmas.
The first round of auditions were held yesterday in London and will be followed by four in Manchester and two in Glasgow. Over 30,000 wannabes applied for the auditions.The next batch of auditions, for those who missed the application deadline, are at London's Wembley Conference Centre this Friday or at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester on 16 August at 8.30am.
06.08.2002 Insults fly over heavy-handed 'Popstars' judges
It was a brutal introduction to the music industry for 19-year-old Carol Lynch. As if coping with rejection in the first round of auditions for ITV's latest version of Popstars was not enough, the shop assistant had to put up with apparent jibes about her weight from no less an authority than Geri Halliwell.
The panel has a reputation for rudeness. But its members this time – the pop Svengali Pete Waterman, his Irish equivalent Louis Walsh and the former Spice Girl – seemed so nice. One male judge even told Carol, a size 16, that she was a "larger than life'' character.
But Carol said Ms Halliwell, who lost weight dramatically after leaving the Spice Girls, had quipped that she was "very much larger than life''.
"She was there looking like a child. She is 30 and has the figure of an eight-year-old. That's not sending the right message to anybody.
"I don't have a figure like a child but I'm not going to start throwing up my food for anybody. I just think she's jealous of people who can sing,'' she said. Carol, from Basildon, Essex, thought her rendition of "I Wanna Be Down'' by the R and B band Brandy was probably not "cheesy'' enough for the programme, whose first series created the boy-girl band Hear'Say.
There is another possible explanation. By lunchtime yesterday Pete Waterman said he had heard enough appalling cover versions to have a cemetery of pop greats turning in their graves.
"Some of it has been awful. Some people who saw the first series are clearly chancing their arms,'' he said. Mr Waterman added that the judges were simply being honest with people who had no hope of a showbusiness career.
He and Mr Walsh claimed responsibility for any quips about the girls' weight but he admitted some of Ms Halliwell's comments had made them "choke".
Some failed contenders complained of the mauling they received from the judges.
Anne Raymond, 20, was stopped halfway through Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You'' by Mr Waterman, who told her it was "horrible''.
The part-time waitress from Nottingham said afterwards: "He said I had a beautiful face and nice body but I was making a horrible noise. It's disappointing but I was really nervous. It's a step back but I'll keep going.''
Determined optimism was a characteristic shared by all the 400 contestants at the Wembley Conference Centre in London at the first of a dozen mainly closed audition days for contestants who had sent in videos of themselves performing. Glasgow and Manchester will also hold auditions.
Chloe Staines, one of a handful to get through to the second round, showed how much optimism was needed to succeed.
When Mr Waterman told her she did not have star quality she told him he was wrong and challenged him until Ms Halliwell took her side. Unsurprisingly the 18-year-old London student had nothing but praise for the former Spice Girl. "I'm a big fan of hers, she is so determined and confident. Maybe she liked me because I'm like that as well,'' she said.
The new series, Popstars: The Rivals, starts next month. It will create an all-male and an all-female group to compete for the Christmas Number One. The 10 men and 10 women who qualify for the finals will live in Big Brother-style houses, with viewers urged to phone in to evict them one by one..
06.08.2002 'Nasty Geri' in jibe at Popstar wannabe
Geri Halliwell got off to a controversial start as a judge in Popstars: the Rivals.
She joined Pete Waterman and Westlife manager Louis Walsh on the first day of auditions for the series.
Four hundred hopefuls queued for hours for the chance to strut their stuff in front of the judges.
Halliwell had promised to be "honest but with compassion" when dealing with the pop wannabes.
But one would-be star who auditioned for her insists the former Spice Girl was anything but.
Carol Lynch claims Geri Halliwell made a jibe about her weight.
The size 16 shop assistant from Basildon, Essex said: "When I finished singing, Pete or Louis said I was a larger-than-life character.
"Then Geri said: 'yeah, very larger than life' in a sarky way.
"I was all smiles and just walked out, but I couldn't believe it."
Carol went on: "She looks like a child. She's got the figure of an eight-year-old. I'm not eating food and throwing it up in a toilet for anyone.".
03.08.2002 Hear'Say criticise Geri Halliwell as new Popstars judge
Hear'Say have criticised the choice of Geri Halliwell as a judge on upcoming talent show Pop Rivals.
Myleene Klass says Halliwell shouldn't be allowed to put together a new band because she instigated the Spice Girls split.
Hear'Say were speaking on online celebrity chat show AOL Live this morning.
Myleene said "I'd find it quite ironic auditioning for Geri Halliwell. She instigated the split with the Spice Girls. I don't know that she's the right person."
Hear'Say colleague Noel Sullivan said: "I don't see how you can be a judge about putting a band together when you're the person who walked out of it."
Danny Foster agreed with his two bandmates.
He said: "It sums up how it's going. Before, the judges were record company executive and management companies."
Myleene added: "Now it's the blind leading the blind."
And Noel finished by saying: "...and they might not necessarily be so talented themselves.".
03.08.2002 Geri's lost the plot
GERI HALLIWELL has pulled out of a book battle with former bandmate MEL B — and has moved her release date back.
The ex-SPICE GIRLS’ autobiographies were set to go head to head on September 2 with Geri widely expected to be the winner.
But pre-sales figures show Mel is outselling her rival by nearly two to one.
Geri’s book, Just For The Record, will now come out a week later on September 9.
A publishing source said: “Everyone was astounded when pre-sales figures showed Mel’s book, Catch A Fire, was way ahead.
“On the Amazon chart Mel has sold 6,802 copies while Geri is only on 3,631.”
Last night Geri’s aide said the date had been changed for serialisation purposes..
01.08.2002 Geri to be Popstars judge
Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell will be a judge on the forthcoming series of Popstars 2 on ITV. Geri's ex, Chris Eans will also be a judge. The pair will be on rival teams picking two new bands to battle it out for a Christmas No 1.
Chris and Geri are rumoured to be earning £150,000 each from the show.
Chris Evans only signed for the show on Thursday and will be making his first telly appearance since June 2000.
Chris and Geri will earn around £150,000 EACH from the show, and endorsements after the series could see them double their money.
An insider told the News of the World: 'It'll make great TV because they're sure to have it out with each other on screen. Geri has never forgiven Chris for dumping her.'
The show, Popstars—The Rivals, starts in September and the two teams of judges, including Pop Idol's Pete Waterman, will each pick their top band.
Evans has also inked another TV deal - producing a new Channel 5 show to be fronted by Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles. Evans, 35, who is married to popstrel Billie Piper, will be executive producer for the show to be screened five times a week.
Evans was sacked from Virgin Radio last year after he failed to turn up for work on numerous occasions..
01.08.2002 Geri Spices up Popstars
GERI Halliwell teams up with TV host Davina McCall for some girl power – as she prepares to be a judge on a sequel to Popstars.
Ex-Spice Girl Geri, 29 - sporting a new hairdo - signed a £500,000 deal in London to join record producer Pete Waterman and pop guru Louis Walsh on Popstars: The Rivals.
The ITV1 series will create a boy band and a girl group – who will battle for the Christmas No1.
Geri said: “I’ll be honest but with compassion.
01.08.2002 Davina McCall and Geri Halliwell join Popstars 2
Geri Halliwell, Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh are to be the judges for the new series of Popstars.
Davina McCall will front Popstars: The Rivals, which will see a girl band and a boy band battling it out for a number one chart hit.
Louis, best known as Boyzone's manager, will join Pete and Geri judging thousands of hopefuls at auditions in London, Manchester and Glasgow, while Davina brings viewers behind-the-scenes action.
They will then pick a shortlist of ten girls and ten boys who will live together Big Brother-style in two neighbouring houses.
Viewers will then vote to evict a girl and a boy each week until they settle on the final band line-up.
The show is scheduled to be broadcast on ITV1 this autumn.