'Sex and the City': Inspired by Lopez/Affleck | Barbara Walters Forgets Some People | John Mayer: Fiction as Fact | Quote of the Day | This Is Not a Blog | Broadway Riddle
'Sex and the City': Inspired by Lopez/Affleck
Spoiler alert: Various plot points revealed below.
“Sex and the City: The Movie” debuts in London Monday night. The cat will be out of the bag, so we’re free to let loose now at least somewhat on what happens in Michael Patrick King’s very well-made, funny movie.
The last time we did this, the New York Daily News got frightened, bypassed their movie reviewer and put a feature writer’s notes on the front page and passed it off as a review. Tsk, tsk. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.
But I digress: People keep asking me if someone dies in this film. The answer is: No. No one’s even sick, for that matter. This is an urban myth. All the characters remain alive and breathing, ready for a sequel. Or a sequin.
Is there a happy ending? You’d better believe it. King and Warner Bros. are counting on at least two sequels. They will have them. This installment satisfies a lot of questions from the TV series but leaves the door open ajar.
From various teasers, spoilers and coming attractions, there has been a lot of speculation about Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mr. Big (Chris Noth). It is fair to say, then, that their big wedding at the New York Public Library is cancelled. Big leaves Carrie at the altar. This occurs about halfway through the film. It seems based on Bennifer — I mean Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s — cancelled nuptials of just a few years ago.
Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Smith (Jason Lewis) are living in Malibu, where he’s a big TV star now. Suffice to say that Samantha suffers sexual temptation watching a very good-looking couple next door have sex constantly. She is obsessed with the man, who has a body carved out of marble. Will she make him another notch on her belt, or remain faithful to Smith?
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Steve (David Eigenberger) break up when he cheats on her, but not before we see them getting graphically horizontal. Miranda’s story has an ancillary effect on Carrie, a big secret is created and used as a pivotal story point. More than that, I can’t say.
Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Harry (Evan Handler) get pregnant. Suffice to say that Charlotte is used as the anchor of the story, but nevertheless has plenty of funny stuff to keep her busy.
In the end, though, "Sex and the City" revolves around our heroine, Carrie, who’s written at least two more books since the TV series ended. The movie is all about her romance with Mr. Big, now known as John James Preston. Their clinical decision to marry is the catalyst for everything in the film. When that falls apart, the movie almost does, too, and it takes about 15 minutes of patience before it finds its footing again.
Don’t worry: it does, and the girls get to set off on some great adventures. There’s even a trip to Mexico reminiscent of the old Nevada trips gals used to take in weepers when they wanted a six-week divorce. It’s among the many, neat homages that King whips up for the observant.
Be warned though: the version I saw was long, like considerably more than two hours and that was without credits or all the music — including India Arie’s lovely version of Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter.” A little trimming would have gone a long way — and I don’t mean Samantha’s priceless take on pubic hair.
As I said in my first review of this last week, King has fashioned an old-fashioned women’s film, a weeper with a lot of comedy. He’s remade “The Women” as if Jacqueline Susann had written it and it was for the 2000s — something very hard to do. It’s a fantasy world and one in which the gals will revel.
What happens to the subsidiary characters? Not much. Both Mario Cantone and Willie Garson are severely underused, although Cantone scores some good lines. Candice Bergen has one scene, as Carrie’s editor, and makes it memorable. She could have been used more, though, I think.
And then there’s the other character: the clothes. Not since Robert Altman’s “Dr. T. and the Women” have I seen such outrageous get-ups on screen. There are times when the clothes make the movie feel as though you’re watching “The Jetsons.”
The product placement is way over the top, too: Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Manolo Blahnik. There are lots more; I don’t even know all their names. Strangely missing, unless we missed it: the name Jimmy Choo. Maybe they couldn’t make a deal.
One odd thing about “Sex and the City,” which still doesn’t make sense: we never see of the girls’ families. Carrie’s elaborate wedding doesn’t include even a mention of parents or siblings. Charlotte’s pregnancy, ditto, includes no doting grandmother. I dimly recall some mention of Miranda’s family in the TV series. Here they are non-existent.
I think I know why King has done this: stripped of any background or prior baggage, the girls become an empty screen upon which women in the audience can project their own hopes and fears. I’ll let it go at that.
So get ready for the American premiere on May 27 in New York, which I’m sure will be celebrated like a holiday. Fifteen days — how will fans survive? And how much will the British press let leak? I hope not all the surprises from the ending, which is so well-written that it manages to address a lot in just a few strokes.
Barbara Walters Forgets Some People
Considering how long and impenetrable Barbara Walters’ latest autobiography is, it’s kind of amazing that she left some people and episodes out.
I told you all about her third husband, Merv Adelson, last week. Walters skirted around that one.
Over the weekend, a closer reading reveals that she also left out the time actress Candice Bergen almost took her job on the "Today" show. Bergen, who went on to Emmy award-winning success with “Murphy Brown,” isn’t even listed in the book’s index. (Her father, famed ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen, did make the cut, however.)
Back in 1991, Walters did tell me during a three-day interview that was never published: “When I was doing the 'Today' show and I was in China for the second time [President Ford’s 1975 visit], they brought Candice Bergen in. Beautiful Candice Bergen. To do photographic essays twice a week on the 'Today' show. I remember hearing, when I was in the Philippines, that Candy Bergen had come in and she might be replacing me.
“Candy Bergen was a lovely, intelligent, charming woman. I didn’t have the choice to resign. Where was I going to go to? I stayed, and she stayed, and I did interviews with her and worked with her, until she didn’t work out or had other things to do or wasn’t right for the show.”
Walters also skips over a July 1991 incident when she asked Vice President Dan Quayle at a luncheon full of heavy hitters if he, Quayle, would make a capable president if then-President George H. W. Bush became ill. (Bush had had a cardiac incident two months earlier.) The question went over like a lead balloon and made headlines the next day. It must have slipped Barbara’s memory.
Walters also told me that coming up as a journalist she had no mentor. She simply took one job after another in local television until she was hired by the "Today" show.
“I never felt secure on the 'Today' show,” Walters told me of her employer for 15 years until 1976, “until it was time to leave.”
Walters’ “Audition” was No. 1 on amazon.com this weekend, outselling even Oprah’s guru, Eckhart Tolle.
One last thing about “Audition” that has escaped headlines thus far — Walters told me in our 1991 interview that she’d been made an extraordinary offer to leave ABC for another network just a few years earlier. She ultimately turned it down rather than go through another round of press attacks on salary, etc.
In “Audition” she writes that the offer came from Howard Stringer at CBS. Stringer was head of CBS News from 1986 to 1988, and developed “48 Hours” with Dan Rather as host.
Ironically, during our July 1991 interview, Walters was in the middle of tense negotiations with ABC News president Roone Arledge. She wasn’t getting what she wanted, although it was unclear what that was: Even more airtime, or money. She told me her guest hosting appearances on “Nightline” and “Good Morning America” in addition to “20/20” and her specials, were “voluntary.”
The negotiations were so tense that she was on the phone with her than agent Marvin Josephson constantly, and there was much back channeling by her old pal, Henry Kissinger. In the end, she got what she wanted, including having my interview (for Vogue magazine) killed.
John Mayer: Fiction as Fact
Ubiquitous singer songwriter John Mayer won’t go away — and doesn’t quite understand the nature of self-parody. He’s posted a video on YouTube put together by the dreaded Apatow group. It’s called “Lesson in Songwriting.”
It’s supposed to be a send-up of Mayer using a factory of collaborators to produce new material. It’s funny, and Mayer is good in it. The only problem is he’s been all too skillful at repurposing other people’s material as his own. Case in point, his “Waiting for the World to Change.” It’s just about lifted from Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and “We’re a Winner.” Ouch!
Quote of the Day
"Steve Jobs — quote me – does not give a shit about music. Because what he's done is bifurcated the music business. No longer is the test of an artist's work the embodiment of an album, what is considered as consumable are single songs, and that's because of the Apple platform. He's a genius, the only thing he cares about is selling his platform." — Steven Nowack in Wired.com re his Web site.
This Is Not a Blog
Richard Brooks, arts editor of London’s Sunday Times, mentioned this column Sunday in that paper. Only one thing: He called it a blog. This is not a blog. Blogs are great, but they are also mostly if not totally opinion pieces, diaries, memoirs etc. They are “web-logs.”
Even though it appears on the Internet, Fox411 is old and stodgy enough just to be classified as a “column.” This columnist was born in the 1950s and is way too old to be blogging. That’s a 20-year-old’s game, and more power to them. They have the time to report on their feelings freelance, ad hoc, gratis, just for the fun of it.
So, as we approach our ninth anniversary, call it a column please. It’s what separates us from the wolves. And thanks not only to Richard Brooks, but to The Globe supermarket tab for throwing us a bone in the story about Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle that appears in their most recent issue nearly verbatim from this … column.
You know the story by now of the YouTube divorcee, Tricia Walsh Smith? Her husband is Phil Smith, who runs Broadway’s Shubert Organization. You’d think a certain theater writer would have been all over this scandal. Alas, he has not penned one word on the subject despite the story’s now international recognition. Why, you wonder? I’m told said writer has long held a position with “The Shuberts” in his sights, and didn’t want to do a thing to jeopardize that future. Now the national entertainment press — and not the local New York theater wag — can claim a New York story as their own.