Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By John Polly
A few months ago, on this most recent season of “Project Runway,” the surprise appearance of a New York City icon prompted an unprecedented freak-out among the assembled designers. Sarah Jessica Parker – also known to the world at large as Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City”‘s beloved protagonist – walked into the “Runway” workroom and, within nanoseconds, the arty, jaded crowd of wannabe fashion moguls began to squeal, shriek and cry. Cut to a forty-something gay man – the resilient, lovable and tenacious designer Chris March – wiping away a tear as he declared, “Sarah Jessica Parker and ‘Sex and the City’ is the reason I moved to New York City!” And we all knew exactly what he meant.
Chances are, come May 30, movie theaters across America will resound with similar squeal, shrieks and laughs as New Line Cinema’s much-anticipated “Sex and the City” film opens everywhere. (Sure, people are excited that Indiana Jones is coming back to cinemas this summer, too, but can he negotiate cobblestone streets in five-inch-heels while balancing an iPhone and shopping bags? Not so much.)
It’s been four years. We need an ample serving of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte – washed down with a Cosmo! And we need life’s messy questions addressed on the big-screen: Do women need men to be complete? How do you cope when love lets you down? And is Mr. Big truly and ultimately “the one”?
For gay fans, this movie event reunites us with four of our best friends who really are a lot like us: Simply put, they’re four independent spirits forging their own sense of family while discussing last night’s sexual antics – over brunch. And it always seemed perfectly logical that two of the show’s creators and writers, Darren Star and Michael Patrick King, were gay men. Parker and her posse – divalicious Kim Cattrall, wise and wry Cynthia Nixon, and lovable goody-two-shoes Kristin Davis – always said the things we’d thought about men and mating. Plus, from the beginning, the show included gay and lesbian characters and plotlines in its fabric. Basically, you had us at “Hello.”
But as the movie approaches, one can’t help but wonder: Where will this new story begin? What’s going to happen? Will devout fans be satisfied? Will Carrie actually marry Mr. Big? Do we even want her to?
“With the film, I knew it would be a mistake to pick up right where we left off,” explains King, the show’s veteran executive producer and the movie’s writer and director. “The fans of these characters have all evolved and continued their lives. They’ve gotten married or had kids or gotten divorced, and these characters have to reflect them back. So I had to move the girls forward, and I knew I had the actresses who could back it up. They look amazing – and they are amazing.”
The entire film looks pretty much the same. It’s rich and vibrant with a color palette of a fruit salad on steroids, and fashions that would fill a few years’ worth of big September Vogue issues. From the opening recap/montage kick off (and yes, that’s Fergie serving up a tweaked-out revamp of the show’s theme tune, now dubbed “Labels and Love”) complete with Carrie’s voice-over and a speed-read through some of the series’ hottest moments, you realize this is major.
Where were we?
Quick update: Carrie and Big are still together, and the film soon finds them planning their wedding; Miranda and Steve are raising toddler Brady in Brooklyn, but are things OK?; Charlotte and Harry are raising their adopted daughter; and Samantha’s in L.A. managing the career of her rising-star stud boyfriend Smith – but is she happy? All good fodder for drama. Let the games begin!
Of course, shooting “Sex in the City” involves actually shooting in New York City. And the media/stalkarazzi world is much different now than a few years ago. “By our second day of shooting, the crowds and fans had found us, and the Daily News had published our shooting schedule – we became like a daily celebrity petting zoo,” laughs King. “We’d shoot something, and people would be watching us, shooting with their own cameras. I’d go home and turn on the TV and see a scene I’d shot that day on ‘Access Hollywood’ before I’d even seen my dailies.”
The media fervor wasn’t lost on the stars, either. “On my first day of shooting, the four of us were back together for the first time, walking up Park Avenue,” recounts Cynthia Nixon. “There were hundreds of people screaming our names. It was wild. There we were, teetering on our heels and trying to walk in unison while trying to ignore the armies of people there. But at the same time, it was joyous to be back together.” Kristin Davis fought fire with fire: “I’d just hold up my camera, like a crazy fan, and just start taking pictures of the crowd,” she laughs. “It was flattering, but it added pressure too. I was like, ‘Is everyone going to know the plot?'”
Some photos of scenes being shot – especially pics of Carrie in a wedding dress – may have leaked, but they only served to boost anticipation for the film. And no fleeting visual hints of the film’s plot are likely to lessen the impact of the story’s big messages. “This movie is about being a grown-up,” explains Parker. “It’s about adult decisions and what it means to suffer a loss and disappointment now, as opposed to when you’re 20.”
King describes the film’s message in broader strokes: “It’s about love and forgiveness. As Carrie says in the movie, ‘I used to write about finding love; now I write about what happens after you find it.’ In your 30s, you may make mistakes by jumping into bed with the wrong people, but in your 40s, you make emotional mistakes because you’re in bed with the right people. Either way, when it comes to love, you’re going to feel like you’re 20 years old, emotionally.
“And this film is ultimately about exploring the love affair between the four women, and how they each handle their own love affairs.”
Out of the closet
This is still “Sex and the City,” so you can expect the series’ love affair with all things fashionable to thrive. The girls’ always-breathlessly-bold fashion sense (Carrie herself has over 80 costume changes) comes via the brilliance of outspoken – and openly queer – costume designer Patricia Field. Hot shoes abound; there’s a deliriously-decadent bridal couture montage (think Dior, Vera Wang, and Lacroix, Sweetie), and there’s even a fun ’80s-tastic montage of retro-looks as Carrie cleans out her closet. Queer eyes will be smiling.
“There were a lot of gay moments in the wardrobe room,” admits Parker, laughing. “We’d try something on and Pat Field would just say, ‘Ohhhh, the gays are gonna gag! They are gonna gaaaaag!’ It certainly brought a fun spirit to the process. We hope the gays will appreciate it.”
Chances are the gays – and all other viewers – will also appreciate the presence of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson in the film, too. She appears as Carrie’s new assistant, Louise, and her youthful glow lights up the screen. “I think having Jennifer was just so necessary,” Parker explains. “She reminds Carrie of who she was 20 years ago and what the city of New York promises.”
Of course, no one’s happier about Hudson’s participation in the film than Hudson herself: “Hello? This is ‘Sex and the City’! What girl doesn’t want to be one of those girls?”
And frankly, that’s how most viewers (“Project Runway” designers included) have always felt about Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte – and why we’re happy to have them back onscreen: We do want to be one of them. Heck, the truth is, we already are them. We love and flirt and make mistakes – and we get right back in there. And hopefully, we know we have our friends to help us along the way.
“The lesson of this movie – of the show – is about friendship,” Kim Cattrall says. “It’s about friends as family. You can’t pick your family, God knows. But you can pick your closest friends.”
And with any friendships, comes drama. Accordingly, the “Sex and the City” film provides plenty. Expect infidelity, romantic disappointments, a break-up or two, and reunions and resilience – as well as fun sex, outrageous fashion, and as lush and luxurious of a New York as you’ve ever seen onscreen. But amid all the glitz, there’s gravity, too. There’s heartache and then healing. And, as was mentioned, forgiveness plays a big part.
“In this movie, love ultimately trumps all,” offers Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth. “But without forgiveness, you can’t get to the love.”
“I just really wanted this movie to be a rollercoaster,” King admits. “I had no interest in doing a movie about shoes or cocktails. It has to be about emotions and have scope and scale. I wanted people to come and cry and laugh.”
But leave it to newbie Jennifer Hudson to wrap it up most succinctly, when she echoes why her character, Louise, came to New York in the first place. Sure, there was the draw of the big-city hustle and glamour, but most of all: “Love,” Hudson sighs. “I believe in love, just like Louise. After all, love is the thing, you know?”