Without a doubt “Sex and the City” was about female bonding, and Cosmos, and Manolo Blahniks, and a sex-crazed publicist, but it was nothing if not the “City.”
All of Gotham played a pivotal role in the success of HBO’s seminal distaff series, which ran 1998-2004. When one of the ladies shopped on Madison Avenue, rented an apartment in the meatpacking district or rode in a hansom cab in Central Park, Manhattan was always front and center.
“Sometimes I got frustrated over the show’s shoe connection, but never the New York connection,” says Kristin Davis, who co-starred along with Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon. (Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, had hundreds of pairs of shoes and spent so much money on footwear that, in one episode, she realized she’d spent $40,000 on shoes.) “It was always smart to shoot on the street, and we loved shooting in places like Magnolia Bakery (in Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side).”
“Sex and the City,” a perennial awards darling with one Emmy and three Golden Globes, makes its way to the bigscreen May 30.
Regarding the switch from TV to film, Parker says it’s not such a big deal. “We always thought we were making little movies every week, but there is obviously a big difference in the mediums. … There had to be a story worth telling to ask people to leave their houses, come to the theater and pay for us once again.”
In addition to “Sex,” HBO found another huge tri-state hit both in the city and across the Hudson with “The Sopranos,” a show that made the Bada Bing as popular as the Carnegie Deli.
The most popular show in the history of the pay cabler, “The Sopranos” exuded an East Coast vibe by shooting many exteriors in New Jersey while interiors were shot in Queens, Brooklyn and Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.
Executive producer Ilene Landress says the show’s visual realism was part of the reason for the incredible passion viewers felt about “The Sopranos.”
“We pitched the show to other networks and they said to shoot it in L.A.,” she recalls. “HBO said we’d shoot in Jersey and we ended up at Silvercup. David (Chase, creator) said that was OK to shoot there but we couldn’t go out the back door because it’s Long Island City. If the script said New Jersey, we shot in New Jersey.”
The pilot of “The Sopranos” was completed in 1997, yet it didn’t air until two years later, and the strong reaction to the episode caught many of the cast and crew off-guard.
“HBO was doing a screening of the pilot in a small theater underneath the Virgin Megastore, and the place was packed,” Landress says. “We all looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, somebody must’ve seen this and liked it.'”
And it wasn’t just the exteriors that brought the show its New York-New Jersey vibe. It was the cast’s upbringing as well.
“All of the actors were from the East Coast,” she explains. “That made a huge difference. … You never want to speculate on what makes magic. It was the fortunate alignment of great writing with David, great actor and great casting. The stars aligned.”