December 8, 2005

‘Sex and City’ star Parker not nice girl in new film

By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sarah Jessica Parker, who played
the lovable Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City," can be a
real pain -- at least in the movies.

Two years since the hit TV show that explored the lives of
New York City women aired its last original episode, Parker is
back with a new film, "The Family Stone," about a solid clan
whose tight bonds come unwound when the eldest son brings home
a girlfriend whom nobody likes.

The girl, Meredith Morton, is played by Parker, and she is
far removed from the 40-year-old actress -- and by extension
Carrie Bradshaw -- known for a warm heart, bright smile and
fashion sense. But that distance, Parker's understanding of it
and her transformation into mean Meredith has award watchers

"(Carrie) loved examining people and relationships. She
loved this idea of human contact and looking and observing, and
Meredith is completely the opposite. She would like not to be
touched. She would like not to be hugged," said Parker.

Meredith is a cold-hearted cow, albeit a funny one. Gone
are Parker's curly blond locks, and in their place is
Meredith's pulled back bun. Parker's colorful outfits give way
to Meredith's dark suits, slacks and sweaters.

"Family Stone" producer Michael London, who was behind
award winner "Sideways" last year, said because Parker is so
well-liked, she made the perfect choice to portray vilified
Meredith. Audiences may not like her, but for the movie to
work, they cannot hate her either.

"The movie lives or dies on how you feel about Meredith
because she says and does things that are unsympathetic,"
London said. "We took advantage of the perception audiences had
of Sarah and of the Carrie Bradshaw thing."


Meredith, audiences learn, is not the only imperfect person
in the world. For all their perfection, the Stones have their
faults, too -- everyone does -- and when Meredith comes into
their home, cracks soon appear in the Stones' veneer.

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is a successful executive
who is on track to run for political office. He brings Meredith
home for Christmas to meet his family and eventually propose.

Mother Stone (Diane Keaton) and Everett's sister Amy
(Rachel McAdams), passionate liberals wrapped in back-to-Earth
bohemia, reject conservative Meredith almost immediately.

Father Stone (Craig T. Nelson) and little brother Ben (Luke
Wilson) are suspect, too, and even politically correct, gay,
deaf brother Thad (Ty Giordano) and his black lover Patrick
(Brian White) can't seem to wrap their arms around the uptight
potential family member.

Anybody who has ever been to a boyfriend or girlfriend's
house for dinner or experienced meeting the new in-laws for the
first time can identify with Meredith.

"It's about family and love and loss and disappointments,
acceptance and tolerance and ultimately what it means to be a
grown-up person," said Parker.


The Ohio native knows a lot about big families. She has
seven siblings -- three from her mother's first marriage and
four from her second.

Parker said she is very close to her brothers and sisters
and at family gatherings or holidays, when one brings home a
new friend to meet the family, the gossip begins to flow.

"When the person leaves the room, we all look at each other
like, 'Well, this can't last very long,' or 'Please God, don't
let this last very long,"' she laughed.

"But on the road to being grown-up people, we have learned
that you don't get very far trying to drive a wedge into a
relationship," she added.

Parker has been married to actor Matthew Broderick for
eight years, and they have a 3 year-old son with whom she
spends her non-working days. Parker said she can't remember
walking into a situation like Meredith's.

Then, upon reflection she adds, "I was probably in the
restroom when they were talking about me."

It is "Family Stone" that has people talking now. Chicago
Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper said the film should not be
overlooked amid all the hype for big-budget holiday fare like
"King Kong" and the latest "Harry Potter" movie.

Parker, who won U.S. television's top honor, the Emmy, for
Carrie Bradshaw, is being talked about as a potential award
winner too But she is characteristically humble when discussing

"It's very enjoyable, to some degree, to get caught up in
it because frankly it's very flattering. On the other hand, I
have a very philosophical attitude for it ... We made this
movie and had this amazing experience. Now we're going to turn
it over, and people will actually tell us how we did," she