Josh Wolk
May 26, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Geri Halliwell‘s creativity cup sure has runneth over since she left the Spice Girls: Now she tells MTV News that she’s working on a book. But don’t expect juicy dish about her true feelings for her former Spice pals. She describes the book, which she says she’s been working on since age 16, as a ”21st Century folktale. The dressing happens to be my life, but it’s about chasing rainbows, getting your pot of gold, and how does that feel.” Don’t head to bookstores yet: She’s not finished, and there’s no official deal to release it if she ever does wrap it up.

IX-NAY ON THE IGHTS-FAY For the second time in a year, the television distributor for ”The Jerry Springer Show” has announced it’s ordering Springer to take the fights out of his show — and this time it looks permanent. All fights will be edited out of reruns, as well, as per order by Studios USA. ”We will produce and distribute a program that we feel is responsible,” the company said in a statement. ”No violence, physical confrontation, or profanity.” Springer himself had no comment, but somewhere in Chicago his bald stage cop is weeping.

”PHANTOM MENACE” NEWS If you can hold out just another year-and-a-half, you can see ”The Phantom Menace” for free. The film will bypass cable and pay-per-view and go directly to Fox, which will most likely air it next November without any commercials, according to the Los Angeles Times. The price tag wasn’t released, but keep in mind that Fox paid $80 million when it bought first rights to ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park” from Universal…. An entire copy of the ”Star Wars” prequel was stolen from a theater in Menominee, Wis., early Saturday morning. Police are searching for the culprits who nabbed the 40-pound reel of film, which could easily be used to make illegal bootleg copies.

WEB MUSIC If you can’t wait for the new albums by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Def Leppard to hit stores, you’ll be able to hear them both a few days early when the two bands post them on their websites. Both bands’ new records will be in stores on June 8, but the new songs will be on their sites on June 4: The Chili Peppers will post three news songs each day from ”Californication” leading up to the release, while Def Leppard will run a four-hour program called ”Radio Free Euphoria” that features all of the songs from the upcoming ”Euphoria” as well as interviews and past hits. The music will be available through RealAudio, which, unlike MP3, isn’t recordable.

REEL DEALS Martin Scorsese may produce a biopic of 1950s nude-pinup star Bettie Page, with Liv Tyler as the oft-hung sexpot…. Ben Stiller is producing an English version of the German film ”To Err Is Human,” the 1996 tale of an infertile man who tries to discover which one of his friends is the real father of his children. It’s not clear whether Stiller will also direct and/or star in the film…. Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones will produce a film version of Ralph Ellison’s unfinished novel, ”Juneteenth,” that’s finally hitting stores posthumously next week. David Mamet is negotiating to write the script and possibly direct. Freeman will star.

CHANGING HIS MIND After battling to be released from his contract with Warner Bros. Records, the Artist formerly known as Prince is making noises that he may forgo his independence and sign up with another label. ”I had to get out of the recording industry, and once I did, that changed my perspective on everything,” he told Paper magazine. He said he is considering partnering up with a label for his upcoming album, ”Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic.”

RELEASE SHUFFLE Universal has pushed the Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy comedy ”Bowfinger” back a month, from a release date of July 30 to Aug. 27, to keep it from competing with the studio’s other comedies. As originally scheduled, the movie would have hit just a week before ”Mystery Men” and two weeks after ”American Pie.” Late July is competitive enough without pitting your own movies against each other.

NEWS FIX Not enough newsmagazines in your life? Don’t panic: CBS is running a second hour of ”48 Hours” this summer on Monday nights at 10 p.m., starting on June 7 and airing through Sep. 13.

LAWSUIT Clint Eastwood’s former girlfriend Sondra Locke has settled her long-brewing lawsuit against Warner Bros. out of court for an undisclosed amount. Locke, an aspiring director (”Ratboy”), had accused Warner of conspiring with Eastwood to reject all of her movie projects. The studio had given her a three-film deal in exchange for her dropping a palimony suit against Eastwood (a longtime Warner Bros. director) in 1989, but she sued for breach of contract after she says she pitched 30 movies and none were accepted.

ON THE MEND Walter Matthau, 78, is recovering from pneumonia. He entered the hospital about 10 days ago, but his son says he’s recovering nicely.

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