Sex and the City: The Women

Year after year, twenty-something women come to New York City in search of the two Ls: labels and love. Twenty years ago, I was one of them. Having gotten the knack for labels early, I concentrated on love–Carrie Bradshaw

Strap on your Manolos and grab a cupcake and a Cosmopolitan. Those four fabulous New Yorkers, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte, are back and coming to the big screen in the feature film “Sex and the City,” based on one of the most talked about series of all time.

The series “Sex and the City” debuted in 1998 on HBO and ran for six illustrious seasons before the finale in 2004. The series earned 50 Emmy nominations during its run, winning seven, including acting nods for Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon. The series also won 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series and was nominated for 24 Golden Globes, winning eight, including Best Television Series Musical or Comedy and acting awards for Parker and Kim Cattrall.

But before it hit the small screen, “Sex and the City” was a series of autobiographical newspaper columns in The New York Observer by author Candace Bushnell. Darren Star, the creator and executive producer of such iconic television shows as Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, saw immediate potential in Bushnells writings about sexual politics among New Yorks social set. I read those articles and I thought, wow, this is a great window into New York, Star recalls. I just loved the character of a single woman who is writing about herself and exploring the city and the nature of relationships at the same time. Bushnell later compiled her columns into a book, which became a bestseller when it was published in 1996.

With the start of the series, Star also asked Michael Patrick King, the man who would go on to executive produce the series as well as eventually write and direct the feature film, to join the series as a writer and as co-executive producer. Darren knew that Michael brought something that was very unique in terms of his skills as a writer, says Sarah Jessica Parker, who returns in the role of Carrie and also serves as a producer on the film. That was just our good fortune and Darrens smarts.

In writing for the series, King concentrated on developing the characters of the four women. He offers, Mirandas the sarcastic, sort of angry, one. Charlottes the sweeter, sort of preppy one, the more traditional one. Samanthas the sexy, sort of power-hungry one. And then, theres Carrie, the indefinable one. From there, everything grew. You figure out their sense of humor, on and off screen. And then each year of the series we became more and more connected, like a relationship, as the girls grew and the relationships between the actresses and the writers and directors grew.

Once the series began to air on HBO, audiences fell in love with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, and discussions about the previous nights episode became regular water cooler talk all over America.

It was not at all what any of us expected, says Kristin Davis, who reprises the role of Charlotte. You never expect something to be as successful and go for as long as we got to go. We had just a really incredible time.

The success of the show stemmed from a lot of things, adds Cynthia Nixon, who again plays Miranda. It starts with the writing. Its really clever and heartfelt writing. People watch the show over and over, the same episode five, ten times because its so jam-packed full of content. Not just jokes ideas. And I think the actors are wonderful.

It was about women joining together as the new family, girlfriends sticking together through thick and thin adds Kim Cattrall, who returns as Samantha. And those relationships are what made the show so popular.

The show was successful because there was a void that needed to be filled, adds Michael Patrick King. And that was, someone had to speak out for single women, someone going through life alone in a society that says everybody should be together. And then in the show, subliminally and sometimes not so subliminally, is the other voice that is saying, Be smart, strong! Follow your own road!

By the time Sex and the City ended its run on HBO, its audience had grown exponentially with new fans discovering the series on DVD and in syndication. In 2004, the series aired its last original episode, preceded by a media blitz befitting its huge following and its place in the cultural lexicon. Even those with only a passing knowledge of the show knew that it featured independent, smart, sophisticated, single women with a taste for Manolo strappy sandals, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes and the crispest Cosmopolitans that the newest Big Apple hot spots had to offer.

Reuniting the creators and cast in a feature film seemed a natural next step in the story of the four women. For Sex and the City star and producer Sarah Jessica Parker, there was no question that anyone other than Michael Patrick King would write the story for the film. Of course there would be nobody else to tell it, I knew he could do it, she states. Hes a really gifted romantic comedy writer, and I just felt like I couldnt do it without him.

I got to fall in love with four women for many, many years, and hold them in my heart, even when we werent doing the series, King continues. I got to be in love with these four women for whom I actually created their voices. Its rare to get that kind of a love affair going with people.

The script that King ultimately wrote has a universal theme that touches Carrie, as well as her girlfriends. The series was really about the search for love, says King. And I think the movies about what happens when you find it. Its about women in relationships, and their friendships.

John Melfi, who was a producer on the series and is also a producer on the feature film, describes the film as posing a question deriving from the classic fairy tale ending: What is happily ever after

Michael Patrick Kings script for the movie opens up in present day, four years after we last saw Carrie and her friends. And, as happens with time, their lives have all changed.

Still working out of her Upper East Side apartment, Carrie is no longer writing her newspaper column. She is a sometimes contributor to Vogue, explains Sarah Jessica Parker about her character. Shes working on her fourth book the three previous were best-sellers. So shes experiencing New York City in a different way. Its the first time shes been wise and smart enough and prudent enough to save money. Shes much more of an adult. Carries new maturity extends to her love life; she is at last in a stable relationship with Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth.

Sarah Jessica Parker is a phenomenal muse for a writer, King says. When you want her to be a star, shes a star. And yet she also has the ability to be the one who wasnt chosen. She can do the full range of what people tend to do in life. Sarah Jessica is also really smart; the character would never have worked if she wasnt able to project that kind of intellect. Other than that, she is hilarious, really sensual and pretty, and with a deep well of emotion.

Producer John Melfi has high praise for Parkers abilities both in front of and behind the camera. She has an absolute ability to be completely in the moment as an actor, and so she can literally jump between roles like Ive never seen, Melfi describes. She can go from Carrie here. Then the camera stops rolling, and shes focused on being a producer.

Over on Park Avenue, Charlotte, played by Kristin Davis, is living her dream come true. After years of dreaming of love and motherhood, she and her mensch of a husband Harry (Evan Handler) are proud parents to Lily, a darling little girl they adopted from China. With her newfound happiness comes a change in Charlotte, according to Davis. Because she has so much of what she wants, shes kind of focused on other people.

Surprisingly, Kim Cattralls Samantha, who once prided herself on her sexual conquests, is also in a committed relationship, though on the opposite coast. Having bravely battled breast cancer, Samantha has followed her actor boyfriend Smith (Jason Lewis) in his career move to Los Angeles. She now lives in a beautiful beach house in Malibu, but she misses her life back in New York. Her girlfriends are getting married and having babies, says Cattrall. There is that feeling of being left behind, not just distance-wise.

Back in Brooklyn, Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, also feels cut off from her beloved Manhattan. Having settled down with her husband, Steve (David Eigenberg), and their son Brady, Miranda is experiencing the pressures of modern life. Shes just exhausted, explains Nixon. Just like a working mother, shes extended in five different directions.

Actress Candice Bergen also returns as Carries chilly editor at Vogue, Enid Frick. Enid is very, very professional, very careerist, says Bergen, who played Enid in several episodes of the series. Shes very devoted to her work, and very much in need of a life outside of her work, I would say, the actress laughs. Bergens working relationship with Michael Patrick King dates from her hit comedy series Murphy Brown, where King started his writing career. I love Michael so much, she says. Its always a pleasure to get to work with him.

In addition to the familiar faces returning from the series, one new character stands out: Louise, a young woman Carrie hires to work as her assistant, played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”). Hudson had not been a regular viewer of Sex and the City, so when she heard about the role of Louise, she happily delved into her research. And I have not stopped watching it since, she laughs. Im addicted Im in love with it.

When Carrie, newly flush from success as an author, hires Louise to work as her assistant, the young woman proves to be a godsend, bringing some order to Carries rather disorganized life. Hudson describes Louise as family-oriented, and recently relocated to New York. Louise is a twenty-five year old girl from St. Louis who moves to New York to find love, she says. She believes in love. And what greater message is there than to spread love