Celluloid Spice upstages Hollywood sugar in Cannes

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It would be a unique chance to show the Spice Girls as they have never been seen before, film producer Uri Fruchtmann said yesterday.

Given the blanket coverage awarded Britain's five-woman pop sensation, it may be hard to imagine what more we can learn.

But, announcing Spice - the Movie, Mr Fruchtmann promised an opportunity to see behind the scenes during one hectic week in the lives of the UK's most famous girl band.

Richard E. Grant, star of Withnail & I and The Player, is to play their neurotic manager in the film, which will be released in time for Christmas to coincide with the girls' second album - and maximise its commercial impact.

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, which is making the film, said it would "capture all the crazy situations and wacky people behind the scenes. The film will be full of music, energy and, most of all, all five of the gorgeous and very independent women."

Every ounce of that wacky independence was on display yesterday, as the project was announced at the Cannes film festival.

Although initially told to be quiet by a PolyGram spokesman before the conference began, they then let rip by ordering the 250 journalists present to perform a Mexican wave and ridiculing members of the press who asked questions.

Geri said she was "proud to be part of the Brit pack" and admitted the film would "take the mickey" out of the Spice Girls. "It is a parody of ourselves ... It is also a celebration of London in the Nineties and you'll see what the Spice Girls are really like and what we really say," she said.

"It is about our inner and outer struggles and we are dedicating it to our fans. Whether you like the Spice Girls or not, it will be very entertaining."

She said she hoped she would get to "have a good snog" with Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt, although there was no indication he was on the cast list.

Despite number one hits in 32 countries, the Spice Girls were not, however, on the list of those invited to lunch with Jacques Chirac, the first sitting French president to visit the 50-year-old festival.

Those who were invited included Isabelle Adjani, the actress who is heading the festival jury, and directors Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Bernardo Bertolucci and David Lynch.