NW (AU) OCTOBER 6, 2003


The former spice girl has fallen for a heart-throb who's set to marry someone else

Geri Halliwell has found love again, this time with Hollywood hunk Jerry O'Connell. But there's a slight hitch - he's supposed to be marrying his glamorous fiancee!

Geri and Jerry - co-starring in new British comedy The Fat Slags, based on a popular comic strip - have been seen looking very cosy around London in recent weeks. In the film, Geri, 31, plays the assistant of a rich bachelor, played by Jerry, 29.

But the affair with Geri is news to Giuliana DePandi, the host of E! News Live (seen in Australia on Foxtel). She's been dating Jerry for more than a year and got engaged to him three months ago.

"They've been dating for some time," says concerned pal of the gorgeous TV host. "They've been very happy and got engaged in May."

Indeed, not long ago Giuliana was telling her friend how Jerry had wanted to buy her an over-the-top engagement ring. He took her to exclusive New York jeweller Harry Winston to pick out a ring, insisting on at least six carats. Giuliana said it was too big, and they left to discuss a compromise.

But things seem to have changed since Jerry met Geri.

"Giuliana desperately wants to know what's happening - she's very angry," says the perturbed friend.

Equally upset is Giuliana's father Eduardo. "Jerry and my daughter are still together and they are engaged," he says.

"They're supposed to be getting married, but men do this sort of thing - it's in their nature. But I don't need to worry about my girl. She's a strong woman and won't stand for it."

Geri, currently recording a new album, seems to be taking the controversy in her stride. Her spokesperson says, "I don't know who Giuliana is. She may have dated Mr O'Connell in June, but that's a long time ago."

And fiancée or not, Geri's relationship with Jerry seems to be getting serious. She has already been introduced to his parents Linda and Michael, with the foursome dining together at London restaurant San Lorenzo.

The couple have been seen almost every day since, with Geri, a tiny 165cm, being firmly embraced by her towering new man, who stands at 191cm tall.

A few nights after Geri met his parents, she and Jerry attended the play Rat Pack Confidential at London's Whitehall Theatre. The pair looked so besotted with each other that many audience members had trouble paying attention to the performance.

"She looked extremely happy," says one fan. "Good for her - she deserves all the luck in the world."

Two days later they were walking Geri's beloved dog Harry in Hyde Park.

Recently admitting to being celibate for quite some time, the buxom blonde pop star is now telling her friends she's found "the one".

"She really thinks a lot of Jerry," says a source close to the former Spice Girl. "By the way she talks about him he could be the one.

"And she is crossing her fingers at the moment that everything goes al right."

Another pal adds, "She's happier than ever."

It seems Geri, who has been publicly battling eating disorders for years, can thank her new curvier body for landing the hunky actor. Friends say it was lust at first sight for Jerry, and it was Geri's newly ample bosom that cast the spell.

"He was really amazed they weren't false," laughs a pal. "In Hollywood, girls that size are all plastic. Geri turned his head because hers are for real."

When she first came on the scene as voluptuous Ginger Spice Geri sported a 10E bust, but after years of following fad diets and near-obsessive yoga routine, she plunged to a 10C.

Fans - and boyfriends - alike are thrilled with the return to the old Geri, which had initially spurred rumours the star had opted for breast implants.

And she has been flaunting her new assets. One onlooker who spotted her out with Jerry says, "She was wearing this short black dress to show off just how well-proportioned she is these days."

Aside from each loving Geri's new chest, and having similar first names, the pair share a history of rocky relationships. Jerry's previous romances include Sarah Michelle Gellar, Planet Of The Apes actress Estella Warren, Melissa Joan Hart and American Pie's Shannon Elizabeth. The actor, currently in TV's Crossing Jordan after roles in the movie Jerry Maguire and sci-fi TV series Sliders, was once quoted as saying, "I'm the kind of guy who can't keep a plant alive for a week, let alone a relationship."

Geri's love-life has been no less dramatic. She's been linked to Robbie Williams, UK radio star Chris Evans and American millionaire Demian Warner, who she split from about a year ago after meeting him in rehab.

And with her new man engaged to someone else, the long-term prospects of Geri's latest relationship aren't much more promising.