'Sex': Real Life Intervenes

Tuesday night’s "Sex and the City" premiere at Radio City Music Hall was the extravaganza of all time, a blow-out goodbye for New Line Cinema and a brazen thunder crack for high heel-wearing women who cheered, applauded and laughed out loud as their favorite TV show unspooled on the biggest screen ever.

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But not everyone in the audience could have been that happy to see New York and its many romantic foibles writ big.

For example: Seated behind me a few rows was Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman and his savvy, college-bound daughter, Samantha. They no doubt were taken aback when, in the first few minutes, Carrie and Co. attended a jam-packed Christie’s auction of jewelry staged by a famous actress whose mogul husband had thrown her out.

The auction clearly is based on Ellen Barkin’s real-life sale of the millions in jewelry given her by Perelman during their marriage. That Perelman wasn’t warned in advance seemed a bit brutal. But he took it on the chin, sat right through the rough patch and even was heard laughing later in the proceedings.

Earlier, there was at least one near-collision of former pals on the red carpet when Candace Bushnell, who invented "Sex and the City" as columns in the New York Observer and then as a novel, almost came face-to-face with the TV show’s early producer, Darren Star.

The pair fell out early in the game when "SATC" took off on HBO and Bushnell realized she’d gotten bottom dollar for her work. She also was shoved aside for the creative team that transformed her work into TV gold. Of course, then Star, too, was elbowed out by the same creative team. Yikes. It was like an episode from "SATC."

Of course, Bushnell has gone on to another bestseller with "Lipstick Jungle." At some point, the hope is that her deal was re-jiggered to reflect that she created Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. But there was enough drama on the red carpet for a sequel.

Also avoiding each other: all the New Line Cinema people who’ve been laid off by parent company Time Warner. This was their swan song after 40 years as an independent film company. Among their hits: the "Lord of the Rings" series.

Said one former exec: "We just don’t [want] people to think New Line was a fluke. We want to be remembered."

Just before the movie started, I got caught in the wings at Radio City as the cast piled into a corner for their group photo. Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon already were waiting in this tight corner as Kristin Davis came in first off the red carpet.

Then in came Sarah Jessica Parker, intercepted by writer-director Michael Patrick King. She whipped out a small makeup container and did a little needed patchwork after 45 minutes of taking questions from the press line in post-rain drizzle.

"Forgive me for a little vanity," she said as she dabbed her eyes. Then she greeted the other ladies. There were no cat fights, sorry.

When someone mentioned to Cattrall that the movie could produce one or two sequels, she quipped, "From your lips to God’s ear!"

In the theater, Parker and husband, Matthew Broderick, were joined by family and friends including Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld. Other "SATC"-related personalities in the crowd included all but one of the men in the film (Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, Jason Lewis, Mario Cantone, Willie Garson), actress Jill Cohen (Magda, Miranda’s nanny), and ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov (who played Carrie’s lover in the show’s final season). There was no sign of Evan Handler, the actor who plays Harry, Charlotte’s patient husband.

Jennifer Hudson, who won her Oscar in "Dreamgirls" last year, plays Carrie’s assistant, Louise. She may have scored the big knockout of the night and looked smashing. She told me that "Spotlight," her first single from her debut album, was just leaked to radio. It hits the world on June 5.

The album, executive-produced by Clive Davis, will make the Grammy deadline this fall of Sept 30. This means Davis will have three major stars – Hudson, Alicia Keys and Leona Lewis — in Grammy competition, as well as Gavin DeGraw.

And then, of course, the theater and the party later at the Museum of Modern Art was stuffed with other bold-faced names: Regis and Joy Philbin; Katie Couric; Lorraine Bracco; Edie Falco; Mary J. Blige; Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas; designers Nicole Miller and Donna Karan; Jill Hennessy; Joan Allen; Emmy Rossum; this year’s Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan; and Bette Midler, who brought her sensational 20-year-old daughter, Sophie.

Do you sense a theme here? Aside from Reege, it was gals’ night. What the NFL is to men, "SATC" is to the ladies.

The fear for Warner Bros. is that the twain shall never meet. But that may not be necessary. From the looks of Radio City Tuesday night, the women are in the driver's seat this weekend for the box office.

PS: Who else might not like "SATC"? Perhaps the folks at Apple. When someone hands Carrie an iPhone to use in a moment of distress, she throws it back at them and takes a regular-looking cell phone.

"I can’t work this!" she says with a sneer. It gets a big laugh in the film. She’s not alone.