The room was full of air kisses and small, cupped waves of the hand. Was it the fourth season premiere of HBO's Sex and the City or the show itself? You decide.
Last night, the four women of the apocalypse returned to series TV after too long a layoff: That's Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. Or Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. And boy did we miss them.
So Sex and the City is way, way over the top, slightly crude and oh, so vulgar. But the girls are so sweet about it! When the show starts its fourth season on Sunday night with back-to-back episodes, you too will delight in hearing Charlotte utter the line “My v----- is depressed,” seeing Carrie celebrate a 35th birthday with no guests, watching Samantha trying to defrock a monk and witnessing Miranda scare away a potential beau by being “too assertive.”
At the swell party following the screening of the first pair of shows, Parker and pals entertained everyone from the Sex and the City guys (Chris Noth, John Corbett, Willie Garson, Kyle MacLachlan and David Eigenberg), future guest star Sonia Braga, to Donald Trump and Melania Knauss. Also in attendance were Alec and Stephen Baldwin; Kelsey and Camille Grammer; Bebe Neuwirth; a sampling of Sopranos including Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior) and Edie Falco (Carmela); Sylvia Miles; series producer Darren Star and writer Candace Bushnell, upon whose columns and novel Sex and the City is based.
You can't say any one of the S&C stars had the night, but there's no one like Kim Cattrall —still, I might add, happily married to audio genius Mark Levinson — fresh from her scene stealing and chewing. She's softened Samantha this season; her Cheshire cat smile is wider than ever right before she pounces on her sexual prey. She's fully naked in episode two.
“It's done with fun,” Levinson told me. “I don't mind at all.” I give this man a lot of credit. But he's right. Cattrall is a doll, so her fleeting flash is not prurient at all.
Still, S&C has taken its toll on Cattrall, who told me last night she will probably not be doing A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway this fall. “It's too much,” she said, “we're still talking about it, but I don't think so.” Levinson look relieved. “In the downtime, she needs her rest,” he said.
Canny viewers of episode two will notice Samantha tipping a delivery guy at the very end after he compliments a picture of her hanging in her foyer. “Originally they [the producers] only wanted me to give him a five,” she said. “But he waited so long, and worked so hard, I gave him a twenty, on my own.” Sometimes reality and fiction blur.
The real hero of S&C though is Sarah Jessica Parker, who is now firmly the star of the show. While episode one is a little somber, episode two allows Parker to let loose — as Carrie is invited to be a “real person” model in a New York fashion show. It's an Emmy-worthy performance, but because S&C debuts after June 1st, Parker won't be eligible for this new season until the fall of 2002.
Meantime, she's got a lot on her hands at home. Husband Matthew Broderick is co-hosting the Tony Awards on Sunday night with Nathan Lane. They are each nominated for their performances in the out-of-the-park smash hit musical The Producers.
And here's a problem: For the last several performances, Lane has been out with the flu. There's a brave understudy in there, but Parker says, “Matthew says it's just not the same as having Nathan there. Of course, Matthew was sick for the first six shows of the previews — he had a 103 temperature starting in Chicago. The doctor wouldn't let him speak off stage and he missed the shows. It was terrible.”
What does Parker do for him at home to make things easier in such a grueling schedule?
“Anything he wants,” Parker said with her own big grin. She means it.
Finally, one of the best stories to come out of the S&C party: Candace Bushnell tells me she will be hosting Bravo's 85-episode run of Thirtysomething, starting in July.
“I introduce each episode, as if it's Masterpiece Theatre. I do little intro's from a couch and make comments during the commercial breaks.”
What's more, Bushnell has been inserted by computer magic into episodes, sort of like Where's Waldo? “I say things like, 'Easy up, Hope' and comment on things going on in scenes.”
When she's not being our generation's answer to Alistair Cooke, Bushnell is busy at work on a new novel. “You know, I got a big deal at Hyperion,” she told me. I didn't know. Congratulations. Carrie Bradshaw would be proud.
I was catalyzed by yesterday's observation in Neal Travis's New York Post column. Neal, who's always on target, speculated about how candid Rudy Giuliani will be about his marriage and associated travails in his still-to-be-written autobiography. Talk/Miramax Books is in a deal with him for two books with a total $3 million advance. Neal Travis pointed out that Giuliani would have a big hit if he included all the gory details.
What Neal didn't mention is that such a scenario would be equally profitable for Donna Hanover. Even though the situation is embarrassing for her, the more juice in that book, and the more twists and turns the story takes, the better sales of the book would presumably be.
In her ultimate divorce settlement Hanover, according to New York law, is going to get half of everything Rudy makes on that book. Right now she's looking at $1.5 million, which is certainly a lot more than she would have left Gracie Mansion with had she and the Mayor been either a happy couple, or one that divorced quietly without any scandal.
Can you imagine that? Giuliani would have written: “For some time Donna and I drifted apart. We decided to separate once my administration was over. I met another woman, Judith Nathan, but decided not to pursue the relationship until I was divorced.”
Publishers wouldn't have paid $3 million for that plus, “I got the mob out of the Fulton Fish Market.” Indeed, the war between Rudy and Donna is bad for the kids, bad for the city, and bad for the mayor's legacy, but it's certainly good for the bankbooks of both parties.
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