Men's survival guide to 'Sex and the City'

NEW YORK One Web site is promising a survival guide for boyfriends and husbands, "chock full of tips to help make the experience as painless as possible." A Chicago columnist - do we need to tell you he's a guy? - is offering "Get Out of Watching the 'Sex and the City' Movie" cards, to help fellow males avoid "the agony of this film."

Oh, please. Relax, men! You should feel free to stay home and drink beers, build shelves, or mess around in the garage while your female companions bond over the chance to revisit Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, and check out their closets, too.

And just what have these four long-lost pals been doing the last four years? The actresses who play them sat down with The Associated Press in separate interviews and shared some thoughts on where we left their characters, where we find them now, and what the actresses share, or don't, with their fictional alter egos. Herewith, your viewing guide:

CARRIE BRADSHAW (Sarah Jessica Parker) - The stiletto-clad epicenter of the now decade-long "Sex and the City" story. A sex columnist who dated her way across Manhattan (well, there was also that night in Staten Island) and then mused about her findings on love and lust to her friends, and of course to us.

Where We Left Her: At the end of the series, Carrie had just been rescued, fairy-tale style, from a grim relationship with that narcissistic Russian artist in Paris. Her knight in shining armor: Mr. Big, her once commitment-phobic boyfriend who appears to have seen the light, in the City of Light. "Carrie, you're the one" he says, and whisks her back to New York.

Where We Find Her Now: Cozy and happy, in a long-term relationship with Big. "She's content, and totally in love," says Parker. And older, of course: "This movie is in many ways about being an adult," says the 43-year-old actress. And richer, too, thanks to a succession of best-selling books. Now a contributing editor for Vogue, Carrie's still in her one-bedroom apartment. And still a buddy to Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

Is Carrie Anything Like Sarah? "No, totally different! She's a much more modern woman than I am. She's chosen not to have children at this point," says Parker, who has a 5-year-old son with husband Matthew Broderick. "She has a more colorful dating past. She gets to spend a lot more time with her friends. And her indulgence in fashion, I can't compete," says the actress, downplaying her role as a fashion icon. "In love, her moral compass has at times been questionable. We're just very, very different, but I love her. I don't always like her, but I love her."

MIRANDA HOBBES (Cynthia Nixon) - Fortyish lawyer, hard-driving, career-focused. Lots of romantic adventures, too. Has a hard time relaxing.

Where We Left Her: The one character to have made the foray to an outer borough - in this case Brooklyn - Miranda was living there contentedly, to her great surprise, with her down-to-earth bartender husband, Steve, and their baby son, Brady.

Where We Find Her Now: Contentment has gone out the window. "She's at a real low point," says Nixon, 42. "She's just stretched way too thin between her work and her home life, trying to do it all and feeling like she's failing miserably in each of these realms. She's very angry when the film starts. Well, Miranda is frequently angry."

Is Miranda Anything Like Cynthia? "Oh yeah, there are a bunch of things. I'm very much a career person. I feel like we both work from our head and our emotions catch up with us later. But she's a lot more aggressive than I am. She's likely to put someone on the spot, whereas my impulse is always to let the person off the hook. But I'm more comfortable in the domestic realm than she is," says Nixon, who lives with her partner, Christine Marinoni, and has two children from a previous relationship. "And I wasn't conflicted about motherhood - I always knew I was having at least one kid."

SAMANTHA JONES (Kim Cattrall) - PR executive, late (very late) 40s, with a healthy sexual appetite to say the least. Willing to try anything and anyone, in that area, including wealthy seniors, delivery men, some guy in a yoga class, and, once, a woman. Not a believer in monogamy, or even spending the whole night.

Where We Left Her: In a somber turn for her character, Samantha had undergone treatment for breast cancer, which entailed losing her hair, and, for a while, her sex drive. But hunky actor Smith Jerrod stayed by her side and the sex drive returned at the very end.

Where We Find Her Now: "Living monogamy," says Cattrall. "As they say, 'Good luck with that!"' Samantha has left her beloved New York to move to California with Smith, her first real settled relationship. "She has no safety net," the actress says. "She packs up, leaves, closes down her office. That's how much she wants to make this work."

Is Samantha Anything Like Kim? "Well, we're both women of a certain age, with a passion for life," says the 51-year-old actress, laughing. The same, ahem, type of passion? She sidesteps that question. "I'm much more connected to food than she is," Cattrall allows. "She's not a very good cook." Like Samantha, Cattrall has gone through a few tough years. "I was exhausted when the series ended," she says. (Reports said original plans for the movie, right after the series ended in 2004, were scuttled in part by Cattrall's demands for more money.) "A lot of things have happened in the last four years and they haven't all been great," she says, referring to her divorce and her father's diagnosis of dementia.

CHARLOTTE YORK (Kristin Davis) - Park Avenue socialite, formerly worked in an art gallery, pretty and a little prim, a believer in true love. Had one bad marriage (first her husband couldn't perform, then they couldn't conceive). On the bright side, she did get the apartment.

Where We Left Her: How's this for convenient? Charlotte ended up with her divorce lawyer, the devoted Harry, for whom she converted to Judaism. After a thwarted attempt to adopt, they learned they'd be getting a baby girl from China.

Where We Find Her Now: "She's got her daughter. She's in a much more settled place," says Davis. "She's been dealing with infertility and adoption. Her house is no longer all white! It's real love with Harry. They have three dogs, a little brood. She's the most settled of her friends, in a good way. And she's there for her friends more than she was ever before."

Is Charlotte anything like Kristin? "No! My life looks a lot different," says Davis, 43, who is single. "We're not driven in the same way, and we don't have the same goals."

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