June 29, 1998 12:00 PM

Lucky Luciano? Making their first public appearance since the traumatic departure of Ginger Spice, the Spice Girls (from right, that’s Scary, Posh, Sporty and Baby) found a temporary replacement in Luciano Pavarotti—just call him Old Spice—when they performed their new single, “Viva Forever,” at the Pavarotti and Friends concert in Modena, Italy. Said Sporty: “I think he was scared to sing with us, actually.”

Who’s that woman with Richard Gere? It’s actress Saundra Santiago, formerly of Miami Vice. The two attended the Manhattan premiere of the drama Passion in the Desert, but are, says her rep, just longtime friends.

Whoopi do: Using two Puerto Rican flags for hairpins—in honor of New York City’s Puerto Rican Day parade held earlier that day—Whoopi Goldberg cohosted HBO’s Comic Relief 8, which raised $5.2 million for the homeless, in Manhattan. Of her untamable braids, Goldberg joked, “I took Viagra.”

Diana Ross squeezed Paul Simon at the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame gala in New York City. Simon received the Johnny Mercer Award for songwriting, while Ross picked up the Hit-maker Award, given to a nonwriting singer. “This award is not for me,” said Ross. “It’s for you, the songwriters.”

After sinking the last shot with 5.2 seconds left to defeat the Utah Jazz, 87-86, in Salt Lake City, to wrap up his sixth NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls, series MVP Michael Jordan made a sweet off-court move with his mom, Deloris. “It was the toughest route, toughest challenge in the six championships that we’ve won,” said Jordan. “No one expected us to fulfill this, and that was part of the challenge. In the five before, everybody predicted us in some respect, and it was a hands-down situation. Here it wasn’t.”

On the eve of the World Cup’s opening game, Sean Connery bonded with fellow Scottish fans rallying for their team at a party in Paris. Alas, Scotland lost to Brazil, 2-1, the next day.

Having gotten the green light for her new UPN sitcom, DiResta, which will debut this fall, actress Leila Ken-zle, best known as Fran Devanow on Mad About You, encountered a couple of friendly alien swamp things at the network’s sci-fi soiree in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

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