Serving Up More 'Sex'

The series-turned-film franchise goes another round, and series mastermind Michael Patrick King - and his famous female stars - give us a peek

By John Polly

"This movie is just crazy mayhem!"

Kim Cattrall isn't mincing words. The always-outspoken actress, known to millions around the planet as glam and lusty Samantha Jones of "Sex and the City," has no issues about describing what the much awaited "Sex and the City 2" movie is going to be like.

"We're picking up two years after we left off in the last film, we're going off to exotic locations, and crazy things happen to these gals. The first movie was paying homage to the relationships; in this one we're just having a blast!"

Hold on to your strappy sandals - this fabulous foursome is back. Come Thursday, May 27, the world is getting another dose of the divas, the drama, the bawdy comedy, the romantic angst and the heartfelt affection that follows whenever Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda hit the screen. Following the 2008 blockbuster, "Sex and the City 2" reunites the show's principals and its creative team, lead by director, writer and producer Michael Patrick King, to take us all on new - and undoubtedly fiercely attired - adventures.

"With the first movie, I felt like the fans wanted a really wild, emotional up-and-down rollercoaster," explains King. "This time, it's just a big vacation with a great emotional heart."

First, the basics: As "Sex and the City 2" opens, the four main characters are at a somewhat solid place in their lives. Of course, this being Carrie and her friends, there's more bubbling beneath the surface. "This time around, each of the main characters is struggling with being boxed into a traditional role," explains King. "You've got Carrie, the perennial single girl, now married for two years and struggling with the idea of being someone's wife. You have Charlotte struggling with the idea of being an ideal mother. Miranda is discovering that there is a glass ceiling at work, and she's come to the place where she has to define herself by something else besides her job. And Samantha is dealing with the idea of how a woman can change while going through 'the change,' and she has decided not to change."

So when the going gets tough, the tough go somewhere fabulous? Kristin Davis explains the lavish plot twist: "Samantha gets an opportunity to go to Abu Dhabi, and she agrees to go only if her friends can come, because they haven't been on a trip together since they all went on Carrie's failed honeymoon. It's an adventure; it's a road movie mixed with a kind of mixing of cultures. That alone is funny, but we also share this wonderful communal experience, learning about some universal struggles and joys that women around the world all go through."

King elaborates, "Abu Dhabi is thought of as the future, that's part of their image, and because one of the themes in the movie to me is evolution - the past, who these women were, who they are going to be - the future just seemed like the right place to go."

The exotic desert setting - the Abu Dhabi scenes were actually shot in Morocco - also made for great visuals. In fact, the crew shot on the same dunes where the classic "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed. "I couldn't wait to see how it would look on film, to see these characters and the costumes against that backdrop," says the movie's producer and star, Sarah Jessica Parker. Off camera, the circumstances were unique for the cast and crew, too. "At one point we were eight hours from Marrakech, all living in the same little hotel," she explains. "We were all taken away from friends, family, children, husbands, wives, extended families - so after shooting we were going home to each other, and I think it was the best thing in the world for us. We really became a family."

Not all of the extravagant plot points take place in the Arabian dunes. Stateside, the story takes the characters to another eclectic location for a glitzy "Sex and the City" moment - an over-the-top gay wedding in Connecticut. In fact, the film's festive vibe opens at the outrageously luxe ceremony where Stanford and Anthony (Carrie and Charlotte's respective gay BFFs) are saying "I do." Faithful fans of the TV series needn't worry whether this twist will be believable (formerly, Stanford and Anthony were not exactly pals); King's on top of it.

"When it comes to Stanford and Anthony, Carrie's jilt at the altar in the last movie was so traumatic for both of them that the New Year's kiss they shared knocked down their walls and brought them close," King says. "There's a great joke in the movie where Samantha says, 'It's musical chairs - the music stopped and they were the last two left standing.'"

Who else was standing - and officiating - at Stanford and Anthony's big gay wedding? Liza Minnelli, who turns out the wedding song of any gay groom's dreams. "It's unbelievable," says King of Minnelli's performance. "I've never seen anybody so focused, fearless and prepared. At some moments I was looking at the monitor and watching her, and I was thinking, 'I cannot believe what we're filming.' She was amazing."

Liza's not the only special guest star in the film. Miley Cyrus pops up as herself, "Project Runway" style maven Tim Gunn makes an appearance and, most notably, John Corbett shows up in Abu Dhabi, reprising his role as the one man that Carrie let get away: her former fiance, Aidan Shaw. Intrigue abounds!

And just in case all of that isn't enough, "Sex and the City 2" serves up another diva-tastic musical moment with a girl-group rendition of a `70s classic, cranked out by none other than Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon - all in character, of course. "It's the 'Sex and the City' karaoke moment," laughs King. "Since we have an `80s flashback moment in the film, and considering how the show has examined women's roles and their looks from the `90s up to now, I thought, What is a defining women's moment from the `70s? And that song came up.

"But that number is really just about girls on vacation; while most friends go to their local joint to do karaoke, my job with 'Sex in the City 2' is to take these women to an exotic locale and have them sing an iconic song, wearing clothes selected by Pat Field, on a gold-sparkled runway." He laughs and adds, "I've got the best job - ever."

All the celebratory sparkles, songs and glamorous locations aside, King realizes that there's something else that brings his legions of devoted "Sex and the City" fans - straight, gay, female, male or otherwise - back for more. "Underneath all the flash and fashion and fun, 'Sex and the City' is always a romantic, comic tragedy with a real heart. These women have real feelings. The circumstances may be sensational, the clothes may be a little outrageous, but underneath there's a human heart beating."

But will this phenomenon's heart keep beating long enough for another sequel? Will the party continue for Carrie, her friends and the rest of us? Don't expect a firm answer from its stars or King. Not yet. "Let me honestly say that there is no third film already in the works," admits King. "We didn't already shoot it, it's not ready. Just enjoy this one!"

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