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Actress, fans happy to return to 'Sex and the City' on film
All across America this weekend, women are on the Blue-tooth, lining up friends and planning dinner with fellow Sex and the City addicts.
And it's not just at "sanctioned" events honoring the opening of Sex and the City: The Movie. If frantic phone calls and e-mails from readers wanting to know when and where it is opening near them are any indication, fans of the HBO TV series (1998-2004) are doing it for themselves. Fandango.com says advance ticket sales through its site are overwhelmingly female and made up of women going with a group of girlfriends.
"That happened even when this was just a series," says Cynthia Nixon. She, of course, portrays Miranda, the redheaded, no-nonsense lawyer in the quartet of lead characters that include jaded but hopeful columnist Carrie ( Sarah Jessica Parker), predatory publicist Samantha ( Kim Cattrall) and doe-eyed art gallery employee Charlotte ( Kristin Davis).
"We'd hear about season premiere parties, all sorts of things fans would do, without the TV network's involvement," says Nixon. "I think my favorite was the way women would be in their house or apartment or dorm watching, and be on the phone with their girlfriends. That way, if something shocking happened, they could immediately check in with each other.
" 'Do you believe what she just did?' "
Nixon laughs. She was a veteran of the big and small screen, a former child star, when the roles that made her and her cast mates famous came along in 1998. The show landed her an Emmy and led to her being cast in a role that won her a Tony (in David Lindsay Abaire's drama Rabbit Hole), "and certainly altered my bank account. For the better."
So there wasn't a moment's hesitation when the call came to round up the ladies for one last hurrah, this one on the big screen.
"I have total faith in Michael Patrick King," who produced the series, adapted from Candace Bushnell's book, and who wrote and directed the film. "If he felt like we still had a story to tell, I wanted to tell it with him."
The movie, like the TV show, let its characters age. Thus, coming four years after the series ended, the quartet are in different places in their lives. Stars of a show with a less devoted following might fret over that, but not Nixon.
"One of the real strengths of our show was the way it changed things up so often," she says. "We didn't cover the same territory, didn't have characters who didn't grow and age and change. Women viewers especially, I think, appreciated that.
"If we were still dating guys and tossing them over for odd reasons, it would be tiresome, and the audience would go, 'Why haven't these [women] grown up?'" Nixon says. "What's happened to us in those four years is very appropriate for the characters, and in the spirit of the show."
As Carrie Bradshaw once said on the TV show, "So what are we going to do? Sit around bars, sipping Cosmos and sleeping with strangers when we're 80?"
The four intervening years have been tumultuous off-screen for Nixon, 42, who not only grabbed a Tony (in 2006), but acknowledged she was in a long-term relationship with another woman and that she'd survived breast cancer, a revelation she made only last month. She confesses she's a little bothered when she sees really young women emulating the TV show's clothes-friends-sex-career-clothes, commitment-wary lifestyle.
"That's a hard standard to measure up to, because it's not real."
Nixon pooh-poohs the endless tabloid speculation about "power trips" and "cat fights" over status on the film set, claiming reporters are blurring the line between actors and roles. "The show is really about how different we all are, and how we play a menagerie of 'types.' It's another strength of this material that these four professional women are such close friends that they put each other first, yet they're women who represent such different lifestyles, different desires and differing wants and needs."
The movie had its premiere in London and reviews have been mixed, with some wondering where the romance is and others, such as New York Magazine's David Edelstein, embracing the film as a "joyful wallow."
Nixon, who confesses that she's no clotheshorse and that the outfits "I got to keep from the TV show and the movie may be all I'll ever need," acknowledges that the "consume mass quantities" zeitgeist of SATC might seem passé in recession-wracked America. "But the wealthiest part of the population, which is who these women are, haven't changed their habits. And for the viewer, there's a fantasy element. It's 'escape' into the city, the lifestyle, the clothes of Sex and the City.
"And the reason it worked then and works now is that it mixes that fantasy with real issues facing single women, issues that we deal with, always, in a very fabulous way. This is what your life could be like if you had a much bigger budget and a stylist living with you at home, helping you pick out your clothes."
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his blog, Frankly My Dear, at OrlandoSentinel.com.