Actress Sarah Jessica Parker made an appearance in Las Vegas a few days ago to accept the first ever ShoWest Vanguard Award, but before the awards ceremony began, she fielded questions from reporters about the anticipated feature based on the hit HBO series “Sex and the City,” in which Parker starred as beloved advice columnist Carrie Bradshaw as well as executive produced.
“What can I tell you in my own stealth way about the story?” she paused before answering the first question about the plot of the film which is rumored to include one of the characters possibly dying. “What we tried to do is it’s a grown-up movie and I think those people that have seen it have been very surprised. There’s a seriousness about something that happens in this movie and it’s really about real life and your own complicity and disappointments and the necessity of friends at certain points, but really, as a grown-up to really take care of yourself. There’s still plenty of ribald, salty, dirty stuff, but I think it’s a really smart story. I think Michael Patrick (King, writer and director of the film) wrote a beautiful screenplay and selfishly, I feel like he wrote the role of a lifetime for me, and it was just an amazing experience.”
“Honestly, the best part was just being there on set the first day, being together,” she said when asked about the best part of making the movie. “It took a lot to get this movie back up and running, and I spent the last year and a half of my life just bringing it all together, and to find ourselves on the set playing again, surrounded by a lot of crew members that have been there from the beginning and surrounded on the peripheral by hundreds of women and curious paparazzi. It was really kind of heavenly to be there again, shooting at the perfect time of year, the most romantic time, late summer/early fall, and getting the chance again to do this things just don’t work out like this, and it was a thrill, the whole experience from the first day to the last.”
“I must say that New Line did not pressure us either way,” she said about whether the film would be tamed down to a PG-13 rating, much like the syndicated version of the show compared to the original HBO series. “I think we recognize very clearly who the base audience was–not “base” in a negative way–but who our audience started out to be at HBO and that was obviously primarily sophisticated women and the homosexual community, and then along came straight men, as they do. Then of course, it went into syndication, a broader audience was reached, and those demographics changed a lot. The audience became a lot younger, they reached areas where people normally don’t generally get HBO, so that all changed. Really, what we kept in mind was where the show started and who that audience was and what is appropriate now for these particular women in the story. We’re not just going to gratuitously toss a woman and a man together, because that’s from whence the show came, the providence of the titillating stuff. We just really wanted to tell a great story and we really encouraged Michael to write a screenplay that’s about who those women are now.”
In response to the rumors that the film might open the Cannes Film Festival, Parker answered, “In terms of where it’s going to open, I think we’re all still figuring out what we want for the movie and whether it’s Cannes two weeks before it opens domestically–and there goes the surprise. We have a lot of thinking to do right now, and we’re just finishing the movie and just getting it ready for everybody to see. I think the rest it’ll all shake down in the next week or so.”
She told the press that the movie won’t spend a lot of time recapping the previous seasons and that it does expect those seeing the movie to already know something about the show and the four women. “Nobody wants to sit in a movie theater with the limited amount of time that you can tell a story in, and we didn’t want to take a lot of that valuable time saying ‘Last week on Sex and the City’ or ‘the last four years,’ so I think Michael has found a clever way of addressing those people who may be in the movie theater, I dunno, under duress? Or I’m not sure how they got there, but I think he found a great solution hopefully for people who are coming for whatever reason who don’t know the show or hadn’t been exposed to the story.”
Parker had absolutely no ill will against the recent crop of network television shows that openly try to mimic what made “Sex and the City” so popular among women, shows like “Lipstick Jungle” and “Cashmere Mafia,” even though she admits to not having seen either one. “Here’s what I think is great,” she gracefully deflected what might have been meant as a provocative question. “HBO cleverly 10 years ago made Sunday night a standing date for a lot of women in America, but I think it’s great that network television thinks the female audience has an important place in terms of revenue and audience and advertising dollars. Obviously, people realize that there’s an audience for programming that’s aimed primarily at women, so I think that’s fantastic. It means there’s job opportunities in New York, it means work for people and hopefully interesting ideas about who women are at certain times in their lives, so I think that’s fantastic. I think it’s hard for them to find their own way, but new shows are always hard to get going. I wish them great luck.”
Sex and the City opens on May 30.