Before last night’s big-screen Sex and the City premiere at Radio City Music Hall, a tented red carpet sheltered Katie Couric, Donna Karan, the Seinfelds, Donald and Melania Trump, Mary J. Blige, Gayle King, and original Sex writer Candace Bushnell from the muggy drizzle outside, which Carrie Bradshaw would have just run through in four-inch heels.
The celebrities posed for pictures with cardboard posters of Sarah Jessica Parker (despite the fact that the actress herself was giving interviews nearby in a floor-length gray gown). Inside, large groups of women in short cocktail dresses and heels did the same. The occasional man looked either shell-shocked or gay.
Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley arrived and took their seats. Then it was Jason Lewis, a.k.a. Smith Jerrod. By the time Chris Noth strolled down the aisle in a khaki suit, the audience could take it no longer: A loud cheer went up and the women leaped to their feet in a flurry of flashbulbs. Sarah Jessica Parker soon made her way down the aisle at Stage Left, eliciting even louder cheers. One could have been forgiven for thinking this was a very stylish, estrogen-infused rock concert.
"I’ve gotten calls from people I actually thought were dead," said Toby Emmerich, head of New Line Cinema, from the podium, explaining that this was "definitely the most sought-after ticket" in New York tonight (and that it was in fact a benefit for the Fund for Public Schools).
Michael Patrick King, the director, told the crowd he’d known the weather wouldn’t thwart the party because his Irish Catholic mother had been praying in her hotel all day: "Dear Jesus, please don’t let it rain on my son’s big sex party!"
He introduced the supporting cast in the audience—everyone from Miranda’s housekeeper, Magda, played by Lynn Cohen, to Jennifer Hudson, playing the new character of Carrie’s assistant—and then the four stars (all of whom looked svelter and younger than in the actual film). Ms. Parker made a brief, sincere speech about turning the film over "to its rightful owners, New York City."
Then, she ran—ran—back up the aisle she’d descended only moments before, and, as the audience held its breath, re-emerged atop a center aisle and took her seat. More gasps and cheers.
The film itself was meaty and satisfying, funnier than the actual series and full of opportunities for viewers to applaud and roar with laughter, notably a scene in which Charlotte (Kristin Davis) poops her pants after drinking the water in Mexico on Carrie’s honeymoon (which, needless to say, involves all four women and no men). The audience went crazy. (Our critic Rex Reed, not so much.)
And if they seemed at first lukewarm on the film’s inevitable happy ending, they eventually got on board and cheered loudly as Carrie renounced the materialism that had provided most of the film’s sentimental moments up to then (people come to New York seeking labels and love, she’d said at the beginning in a voice-over. And the latter is harder to come by).
Afterward, in the women’s bathroom line, the consensus was that the film had been amazing. A 20-something Columbia grad student with a nose ring named Leona explained she’d just moved here Friday from Washington State.
"I’ve only seen 15 minutes of the show, and I got a free ticket to come tonight"—someone offered it to her on her lunch break, she said—"and I decided, it’s my fourth day in New York, might as well go!"
"That’s New York!" said a middle-aged woman with ringlet curls, overhearing. She’d "loved every second from beginning to end," she added. "Just the way it was supposed to be."
Leona said she was going to send the popcorn box to friends back home "with love from New York."
Sighed another 20-something brunette named Lauren, standing nearby in a black dress: "I really believed Big cared for her. I never did in the series."