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City Slicker

Sex And The City 2 is going to be a hoot. A riot. And a scream. It's going to be a multicoloured handbag full of thrills, spills and saucy love action, with heartbreaks and headaches galore. Quite simply, for its millions of fans, the movie is going to be the best hen party in the world, with enough costume changes to make Cher dizzy.

How could it not be? Say what you like about the originality of the first movie, but the makers certainly know their audience.

"I think there's an audience that gets Sex And The City, and there's an audience that doesn't," says Sarah Jessica Parker, who, of course, plays the heroine Carrie Bradshaw. "I'm okay with that. We're all okay with that. There are other cultural phenomena out there that I don't quite get. I'm just lucky to be in one, that's all. And one that I love."

For Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex And The City has been a life saver. And a career-maker. Her kooky roles in the likes of Hocus Pocus (1993) and Ed Wood (1994) are now but distant memories of a different career path. Today, Parker has found her Captain Kirk. And her role as gossip-around-town Carrie Bradshaw is one that just keeps on giving and giving.

"None of us ever expected this," nods the 45-year-old actress. "We thought when the TV series ended, okay, maybe, just maybe, we'll get together some time for a one-off TV reunion special -- you know, some kind of Christmas event, where we'd have a big wedding or something. When the movie idea was suggested, it didn't seem all that much of a leap. But then, it went out there, and the world went crazy."

Well, half the world went crazy. The one with the handbags. And the glad rags. That first big-screen outing cost an impressive $65m to put together, but went on to make $415m at the box-office. And a ferocious amount more on DVD, of course -- for that perfect girls' night in.

Studio chiefs aren't saying how much the second Sex And The City big-screen outing has cost, but, chances are, these girls got bigger bucks for their banging this time out. Especially given the persistent rumours that, off-screen, Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon aren't actually the best buddies in the whole world.

"I think it would be fair to say that the four of us are different people, you know," says Parker diplomatically. "Which I think is what makes it interesting for us; it's what gives Sex And The City that necessary spark.

"We had a lot of fun making that first film, and once we saw how much fun people had watching the film, well, another girly get-together was just too hard to resist.

"Having said that, we put an awful lot into these films, and none of us would be there if we really didn't want to be. We all know the Herculean task ahead of us when making a movie like this."

The "Herculean task" Parker mentions is no doubt the challenge for all four leading ladies being away from their families and loved ones as Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda do a little globetrotting this time out.

"We headed out to Morocco first," explains Parker, "to a place called Erfoud, about eight hours from Marrakech. This was the first time that we were all going to be living together, in this hotel, and that made it a new experience for us.

"At the end of any given day's shoot, we'd all head home together. It really brought us all so much closer together -- it was like we were away on our first school trip together."

Plotwise, we pick up with the girls two years from where the last film left them, Carrie having finally married the love of her life, Big, and the other three finding some peace, love and happiness too. Where to go from there?

Well, how about some self-doubt. Or, if the budget can stretch to it, lots and lots of self-doubt.

Charlotte's not sure what it means to be a good mother. Miranda's not sure what it means to be a good mother and a decent attorney. Samantha is worried about growing old.

As for Carrie, well, naturally, she's written a book, I Do, Do I?, all about marriage. Even though she's only been married for two years.

"That's where the comedy comes in," smiles Parker. "Carrie really doesn't know anything about marriage, not after two short years. She has to deal with that defining line between finally having your wedding and actually being married." Which is a line that isn't always fine for many people. But, something tells me everything's going to be alright by the closing credits.

If not, don't worry -- we can always sort out any ruffled feathers in the third Sex And The City outing.

As for how the girls all end up in Abu Dhabi together, Samantha is asked by a multi-billionaire sheik to consider doing the PR for his seven-star hotel, and so, naturally, she brings her three buddies.

Still, Parker clearly had fun in the sun.

"We got to shoot out in the Sahara Desert, out in the dunes," she says, "and that just blew me away. It's like stepping into some kind of fantasy. You see pictures of this place, right from your days at school, and to actually be there, amongst all these untouched dunes. It was simply stunning."

Naturally, the girls get to try out some stunning new outfits too, even in the desert.

Having gone from an original per episode budget of $10,000 -- which had to cover not just the leading ladies' wardrobe but everyone else on camera -- to now having an industrial warehouse floor wherein hundreds of racks bearing the latest designs from the great and the good of the fashion world await, plus a room dedicated to shoes, another to fine jewellery, well, it's enough to make Sarah Jessica Parker blush. Literally.

"It just seems crazy to me, whenever I step in there," she laughs.

"It's like some kind of alternative universe, where you are quite simply spoilt for choice. How many women in the world wouldn't love to step into that kind of space every now and then?"

Well, I guess we'll find out just how many when Sex And The City 2 opens around the world next Friday.

Sex And The City 2 hits Irish cinemas next Friday