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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Sarah Jessica Parker

Aired December 23, 2005 - 21:00   ET


SARAH JESSICA PARKER: Going, going, gone, it's the end of an era.


BOB COSTAS, CNN HOST: Tonight, Sarah Jessica Parker on her acting career after "Sex and the City" including her new film "The Family Stone," Sarah Jessica Parker for the whole hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

That was most definitely Sarah Jessica Parker. I am most definitely not Larry King, Bob Costas sitting in a couple of nights before Christmas. For a week now the movie "The Family Stone" has been out around the country and one of the stars is Sarah Jessica Parker. I say one of the stars because there's a terrific cast here, what an ensemble.

PARKER: It's a classic. It really is the definition of an ensemble movie and beautifully executed by the entire ensemble. As my friend said last night there's not a stinker to be found in this movie. It's pretty -- it's pretty extraordinary.

COSTAS: Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney.

PARKER: Luke Wilson.

COSTAS: Luke Wilson.

PARKER: Rachel McAdams.

COSTAS: Not bad, Claire Danes is in it.

PARKER: Claire Danes, a lovely actress named Elizabeth Reeser who is really wonderful and does a beautiful, quiet performance in this movie. It's really beautiful and we like, the ensemble like to say that the real story of this movie is this new filmmaker, screenwriter Thomas Bezucha, who has had an enormously successful career in an entirely different industry and came to this later in his life and has written this beautiful screenplay.

COSTAS: Did you have any trepidation about playing this role? I understand that's what being an actor is to take on different identities but to go from the generally likable characters you played to someone who at least the first two-thirds of this movie is not sympathetic at all there had to be a decision involved there.

PARKER: It was a very easy decision to say yes to the offer because of those very qualities that are apparent right away about Meredith Morton. She is upon first blush she is to some unlikable, to some intolerable but what I really liked about the way Tom wrote her was that she is authentically a flawed person.

She's not unlikable and therefore, you know, the sort of withholding bitch with the heart of gold but she's really this really complete wreck of a person who has real difficulties with interpersonal relationship who triumphs beautifully in this movie and, like I said, authentically and doesn't ask for sympathy and really the great reward is she earns the respect at least of the family.

COSTAS: Reuters in their review called her a cold-hearted cow.

PARKER: Well, I think, you know, I'd be curious to see if that was a male critic.

COSTAS: This I don't know.

PARKER: But I think that that's an easy derogatory and rather simplistic way of looking at her. I think that this script defies the sort of archetype of people. I think she is somebody who is a deeply uncomfortable person and I think what's really courageous about this screenplay and about this role is that Tom does not try to make her sympathetic so that people like the actor playing her.

But rather she is somebody that lacks people skills that most of us are born with that know how to navigate complex situations and colorful people and know how to win people over. She is terrified of not being loved. She's terrified of love. She's terrified of, you know, tactile behavior of demonstrative people.

And, I would rather than saw she's a cow, which is sort of stunning to hear in this day and age and pretty daring of the critic but I'd say that she's a much more complicated person than that.

COSTAS: For those who in the week that it's been out have...

PARKER: If I sound defensive, I am.

COSTAS: Those who haven't seen it yet.

PARKER: She and I are -- she and I will have a word later.

COSTAS: She plays, you play, Meredith is the intended of Dermot Mulroney and he brings her home at Christmastime for that scene that most people have been through. You're going to meet the boyfriend or girlfriend's family.

PARKER: Family.

COSTAS: And hope to God that you're going to be accepted.

PARKER: Yes and I think that's beautifully set up is that she is a nervous person. She has this manifestation of nervousness where she's constantly clearing her throat all the time, which is an indication of how intensely nervous she is and she's clearly on edge about meeting this very large, very colorful, overeducated (INAUDIBLE), you know, family.

COSTAS: Diane Keaton plays the mom. She's terrific in everything. It goes without saying.


COSTAS: From what I've read you pretty much idolize her.

PARKER: Yes, I was, you know, I was admiring her and I actually had done a movie with her ten years ago.

COSTAS: "The First Wives Club."

PARKER: "The First Wives Club," where I also played an adversarial role to her role, to her very likable role. I was the new trophy wife of a best friend, you know, you know recent ex-husband. And so, I knew her just the teeniest bit and was actually kind of concerned early on that she would think that there was a reason that I was being cast opposite her in these really sort of unlikable people.

And, at the beginning I think she, she sort of relished our positions with one another and sort of enjoyed teasing me and being rather cruel to me in rehearsal. But then, I had the -- I don't know if she'd be able to say but I had the great pleasure of sharing a makeup trailer with her.

It was just Diane and myself every morning and it was -- if I admired her before from a distance, not unlike an audience, my admiration and respect and really affection has grown exponentially since then.

COSTAS: From an actor's standpoint what is it about her that you find so interesting and inspiring?

PARKER: Well just specifically as an actor, never mind the woman that she is, but this -- first of all this real love still of what she does and I have worked with a lot of people lately who have been around as long and it's very apparent to me that they don't love it anymore and it's a real cautionary tale for me.

But, Diane loves the work still. She loves being on a set. She works incredibly hard. You might think if you observed that it was new in her career that she had as much to lose as she had to gain, you know, that this job meant everything to her.

COSTAS: She's in a career renaissance now with "Something's Gotta Give" and now this. People within the film world always appreciated her but I think larger audiences are coming back around to her now.

PARKER: Yes, new audiences. I mean there is probably a generation of -- of -- of people who don't know the real iconic work that a lot of us think of and, you know...

COSTAS: "Annie Hall," "Reds."

PARKER: Yes, so there's a whole new I think a generation of women and men who are experiencing her again.

COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker is with us for the full hour.

And, as we go to break here, here she is with Diane Keaton in a scene from "The Family Stone."


DIANE KEATON: Oh my God, no, no, it's all right sweetie. Let's just get this off. You're going to be fine, your pretty hair.

PARKER: I'm just as good as any of you.

KEATON: Of course you are, better probably.

PARKER: What's so great about you guys?

KEATON: Nothing. We're just, it's just that we're all we've got. We're not so great.

PARKER: And you, you're the worst.





PARKER: Eggs get folded in, a touch more oregano, more parmesan, goes in the fridge overnight and then just bakes for a bit in the morning.

KEATON: Are those mushrooms?

PARKER: Yes, those are mushrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) allergic to mushrooms.

PARKER: He is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, what do we got going on over here at Santa's workshop? OK, what can I do to be of service, Meredith? What can I do to make you happy?

PARKER: Well, I think I'm all set.


PARKER: I've had to run some errands in town and then he and Thad were going to meet Julie's bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Now are those mushrooms?

KEATON: I didn't know.


COSTAS: We're back now with Sarah Jessica Parker that, of course, a scene from her new film "The Family Stone." We were talking before the break about your admiration for Diane Keaton and I don't mean to embarrass you here but I see some obvious similarities between the two of you. Let's start with the least...

PARKER: Don't tell her that.

COSTAS: Let's start with the least significant one.


COSTAS: But still interesting she had an effect on fashion in her time in the '70s, the "Annie Hall" period.

PARKER: She, indeed she did.

COSTAS: And so too did your Carrie Bradshaw character from "Sex and the City."

PARKER: Yes and we spent a great deal of time at the press junket deflecting that because well I think the only similarity that I see, if I was so bold, is that we both have -- are uncomfortable -- I would rather discuss Diane Keaton than myself, you know, and I -- and I have a very hard time talking about her in front of her so...

COSTAS: Well, we're going to get her on for an hour just to talk about you.

PARKER: Great, great, perfect. Yes, no we -- I recognize that those are extraordinary similarities and I think we both feel a little bit sort of detached from those kind of outside projections.

COSTAS: But here's the second and more significant. Each one of you and I know I'm going to make you blush is extraordinarily attractive but in a completely unique way. Unique is a word that's often misused.

PARKER: You know there are obvious standards of beauty or what is considered attractive or appealing that generally Hollywood subscribes to and I -- I mean I agree with it. There are beautiful women and they're very obvious but I think sometimes it takes someone like Steve Martin, and you and I actually discussed this, sort of that collective wisdom.

If Steve Martin can pluck you from an idea and present you and give you an opportunity to illustrate a different part of yourself, whether or not it's true physically, but sort of this point of operation, it's then we all say "Oh, oh she's -- a man might find her attractive."

OK, a man might find her attractive. A man might find her attractive. A man might find -- you know, and I think that it's just a person looking at you differently or it's you agreeing in your brain that that somehow doesn't make you less substantial.

COSTAS: And here's another thing and I promise this is the last time I'll embarrass you this way but there are certain actors who no matter how skillful they are at their craft, no matter how they lose themselves in a character there's some aspect of them that the audience finds appealing. So, even if Diane Keaton is in a very sad scene there's still that quirkiness, that toss of the head and people just respond to that and no matter who...

PARKER: Yes, or even if she's cold to my character.


PARKER: Even if she is proprietary about her son or really not particularly receptive she's never unrelatable in some way.

COSTAS: What's the difference in playing a whole new set of characters? You've got a few movies in the can as well as the one that's out.

PARKER: Right.

COSTAS: And playing Carrie Bradshaw for five or six years and, you know, developing nuances, developing the character but it's the same character.

PARKER: Yes. Well, it's a -- I sort of said yesterday something like it's like maybe some muscle atrophied that you, you know, there's a great advantage to working in television for that long especially with a character like that with Carrie Bradshaw. That was really beautifully written and really was the great last romantic comedy that I've ever done.

But you use a certain -- you use a certain muscle group and you get really comfortable and confident which is by the way why I thought it was necessary that I stop doing that because I could have stayed there forever, you know, for a variety of reasons.

But, when I started thinking about taking on new roles it was really important to me that it be something that was very different, not just specifically from Carrie Bradshaw but in general the way I've tried to pursue my career.

And, it was interesting to -- for me to see how easy things weren't, you know, how just unfamiliar surroundings changes the entire tone of your day and playing a complex character among strangers and, by the way, among a quality of actors who have spent the last seven years of their life working in the movie industry while I was otherwise engaged in a smaller medium, you know, it's really terrifying. But I think it's really important to be scared. I mean I think if I might be so bold one of the things you might love about your work is that it's always different. If you were always just interviewing politicians or sports figures or actors...

COSTAS: Right.

PARKER: ...just, you would feel while you'd be -- probably feel really good about the way you did it it's just not an interesting way to live your life if you're somebody that likes to be intimidated and challenged and scared and feel less than and feel like you really have something to fight, you know, and the bar should be high and you should have to, you know, barely get it and you should be around people who you want to measure up to.


PARKER: And so, yes, it's very hard to take on new characters but that's what I want.

COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker for the full hour and we're back on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everett, wow Everett in a tie, look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Running for mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you look gorgeous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's true. Hey, I want -- I want you to meet Meredith.








COSTAS: Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane on stage in "The Producers," one of the all time Broadway hits, critically adored and now it's been made into a movie. So, you and husband Matthew have a little box office competition going because you got movies out at the same time.

PARKER: Yes, although you know what, and I know you're probably not going to believe me, we are not paying one bit of attention to it. COSTAS: Why should you really?

PARKER: No, seriously I think, yes exactly, we can't change it. Listen, it's an embarrassment of riches. You know whatever happens is beyond our control, the success or disappointments and it's been a -- we're very lucky people because we are doing what we love to do and it's an odd peculiar timing thing.

COSTAS: As we speak I have not yet seen "The Producers" movie.

PARKER: Oh, my God.

COSTAS: I saw the play with Matthew and Nathan twice and with other guys in the lead another three or four times, OK. It seems to me that it would be very difficult to transfer the stage magic completely to the screen. If they get it 80 percent, it will be good.

PARKER: Well, you know, I guess I'm not the best person to be objective, you know. My feeling is this. What I love, what Susan Stroman did with "The Producers" movie is that she, you know, she didn't deconstruct it. It's not like the way "Chicago" was. It's proscenium. It is -- and specifically Matthew balls out, you know, not about nuance and subtlety.

For me it works and what's exciting about it is that there's a bunch of people in this country and in the rest of the country that never got to see "The Producers." For me it's there and parts of it are even better because they open it up and they're on the streets.

And then parts of it feel like, ah, that's a stage moment but for me it was thrilling to see the movie. I just saw it for the first time last week and I just -- I literally was crying I was laughing so hard, so, and they're wonderful together, Matthew and Nathan.

COSTAS: There is a chemistry between the two of them. The first time anyone saw them on stage in "The Producers," it was -- this was -- this was magical.

PARKER: Yes, it's wonderful. I mean they, you know, they're very different people from each other and, you know, I'm often asked why, you know, why has it worked and I don't know why those things work.

And I think if any of us knew why something was successful we would just, you know, it's lightning in a bottle, you can't but it's worked and I think they also, you know, really admire each other and they have a common love of specific kind of comedy.

COSTAS: You and Matthew have been married how long now, eight years, nine years?

PARKER: Yes, eight years. We'll be together I think 15, 14 or 15 years this March.

COSTAS: And you have a little boy?

PARKER: James Wilke, yes.

COSTAS: Three years old?

PARKER: Three years old.

COSTAS: The other night I saw you on Letterman and you were showing pictures of the kid.


COSTAS: And he seems to have a sense of where the camera is.

PARKER: Yes, I'm concerned about that. You know I would like for him not to pursue a career at this point in his life but I think children his age really do think the world revolves around them and really do like their own image. And, I do -- I do see that my son really likes his own reflection a lot, you know.

And, I actually noticed recently too that when he's crying and upset and throwing a very appropriate 3-year-old tantrum, which are very brief and, you know, he gets over it pretty quickly, he likes to look in the mirror when he's crying. Do you remember this about your children? Don't they like to see how miserable they can be? He likes to really like experience it like he, yes.

COSTAS: Well they know the reaction it can get from their parents.


COSTAS: Half of it's legitimate and half of it is a calculation.

PARKER: Oh, well I think a lot of their lives at this point are legitimate and the other is calculation and manipulation. I mean I think it's really about learning about people for them.

COSTAS: What's this I hear he's three years old and he's fascinated by The Beatles?

PARKER: He's obsessed with The Beatles, I mean obsessed. He loves them. He dresses like them. He thinks about them.

COSTAS: He wears those little half boots like they used to wear.

PARKER: He -- that's the only thing he -- well, no, he does wear boots like them, yes.

COSTAS: They don't make those at Baby Gap.

PARKER: No, they don't sadly but he wears jeans and he'll now wear a jean jacket because he says that it's like John in the New York years, so he'll wear a jean jacket.

COSTAS: He actually not only knows who John Lennon was but he's got him broken down by periods?


COSTAS: This is frightening.

PARKER: He knows the Yellow Submarine period.


PARKER: He knows the Let it be period. He knows the Sergeant Pepper's period. He knows the New York years when he spent time and lived in New York City.

COSTAS: I was a revolver in Rubber Soul Man myself.

PARKER: Yes, we haven't...

COSTAS: Make sure he picks up on that.

PARKER: Yes, yes, yes. No, we've been told by real Beatles aficionados that that's a really important part too. He just loves them and he makes us, you know, act like them and we have to chase him like the Blue Glove and he stops and he -- he turns into a statue, you know, like Yellow Submarine.

COSTAS: Scenes from "Help" and "Hard Day's Night."

PARKER: And he -- and he walks, he tries to walk like the cover, you know when they're crossing the street all barefoot and he keeps saying "Mamma, why -- why would Paul McCartney want to not wear shoes when he's walking on the street"? And, I say "You know, I don't know but maybe one day we'll -- maybe we should write him a letter or maybe one day we'll get to meet him and we can ask him why, you know." He has lots of -- I mean he really thinks a lot about it.

COSTAS: Most 3-year-olds are asking can I grow up to be a fireman or baseball player or are there any real dinosaurs anywhere anymore.

PARKER: Well, he does -- he actually went through a period where he wanted to be a fireman but he said "I would like to be a fireman but I would like to wear my pajamas as a fireman" because this is when we couldn't get him out of pajamas. So, "I would like to be a fireman. I would like to wear pajamas. I would like to wear my rain boots." So he, you know, that when I told him that wasn't...

COSTAS: Practical?

PARKER: Yes, it wasn't practical and wasn't like, what do they call that, government issue that's not all right, yes. No, he does think about those little boy things as well.

COSTAS: How do you and Matthew, especially with little James in mind, how do you handle the attention that comes with celebrity?

PARKER: Probably the same way you have handled it.

COSTAS: Oh, come on. Anyone's interest in me is like that next to their interest in you.

PARKER: No, but you know you're a public person and your children eventually I think probably become aware of that you weren't somebody that worked in a private industry. You were someone that people knew. And, I think so far the questions have only recently started, you know, if we're walking down the street and we walk out of the house and James Wilke will now say, you know, why do those people have cameras?

And we'll just say, you know, they're curious and it's like trying to talk about death with him actually. You know our dog passed away and it's sort of the same idea. You sort of just answer the question simply.

We don't need him to become overly curious about our lives outside our home right now. He knows what we do for a living as best as he's able and that's how we've dealt with it and we try to encourage people to give us privacy when we're with our son. It doesn't work but we certainly ask outside the home I mean.

COSTAS: And there's also a difference, a significance difference between recognition or appreciation especially and celebrity.

PARKER: Yes, no.

COSTAS: And someone recognizing you is one thing. Someone understanding at some level what you do and appreciating it in an appropriate way I think that's very rewarding. You wouldn't be human if you didn't like that.


COSTAS: But the other stuff is just dopey.

PARKER: The other stuff is dopey and I think that there is this great lack of critical thinking in our country now, you know. I think we're saturated and I can't quite figure out why, I really can't, with everything that's happened in the world why there is so much attention and curiosity about the entertainment industry and more specifically about people that really haven't done anything.

It's really stunning to me what public -- who -- who public people are now and that's what I think has really hurt -- that's what hurt -- has hurt the industry and that's what bothers me.

COSTAS: Yes, it's largely detached from achievement.

PARKER: It has nothing to do with skill or talent or hard work or some desire for being good.

COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker is with us. We're back. We'll talk about "Sex in the City" and other topics in the time remaining on LARRY KING LIVE.


PARKER: How can you be engaged? You have a problem with commitment remember? In fact, you told me you never wanted to get married again ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, things change.

PARKER: Meaning what you just didn't want to marry me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, Natasha and I...

PARKER: Don't say her name to me. Don't you dare say her name to me. You string me along for two years and then you marry some 25- year-old girl after only five months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not string you along.

PARKER: OK, yes, right fine. That's right. You didn't string me along. You know what I have to go. I have a headache.


PARKER: Don't help me. Don't you help me.





KIM CATTRALL, SEX AND THE CITY: Ladies, sea men 12:00.

CYNTHIA NIXON, SEX AND THE CITY: I pray when I turn around there are sailors because with her you never know.

PARKER: Oh, wow, we have just spotted our first sailors. Fleet week has begun. Fleet week is that one week a year when the U.S. Naval ships dock and our fair city is made even fairer with cute, sweet American sailors looking for fun.


COSTAS: There it is. Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis, Kim Cattrall and, of course, Sarah Jessica Parker. Why did it work as well as it did?

PARKER: I do love fleet week.

Well, first of all, you know, it should come as no surprise that really great writing. Writing that got deeper every year. Writing that got deeper for all the characters. I think it was a brand new voice on television.

I know that there have been shows about women, but this was, by virtue the fact that it was on the great HBO, it allowed a different kind of conversation. And while I think there were things that were titillating and provocative, it was this search, the relentless persue of what contentment means for a woman in that particular time that was interesting to people. And it was just simply a new voice.

COSTA: They are rerun now on basic cable. Some of the material has to be taken out. And there are commercials inserted. And obviously there are no commercials on HBO. Do you think it plays OK?

PARKER: I've only seen two episodes. I've seen it on basic cable. And it really was just minor adjustments that I didn't think affected it. Now that it's on our local channel here every night, I think the editing has been more...

COSTAS: Obvious?

PARKER: Obvious.

And, you know, it goes back to what I just said. I think that the real soul of the show was about having meaning in your life. And so therefore, the things that have to be cut, while they're missed, they are colorful and funny, don't change the connection for the audience.

COSTAS: Were you sensitive to reactions to your character, Carrie Bradshaw? Because after all for several years you were Carrie Bradshaw in a professional sense. Did you get defensive about it? Did you take into account things people said? And said, you know, maybe I better weigh that as I'm portraying this person?

PARKER: Do you mean the -- what kind of...

COSTAS: Oh, I imagine you heard everything. You'd be out to lunch or dinner or walking down the street and people would have reactions, positive or negative.

PARKER: Oh yes, and people would tell me things.

You know what, luckily, I only -- I mean, I only to my face heard, you know, that's not entirely true. I walked into a restaurant once and a man attacked me, I mean, verbally. I was stunned.

COSTAS: What was his complaint?

PARKER: He said the show was awful. And I should be ashamed of myself.

COSTAS: Did he think it was promoting promiscuity?

PARKER: It was dreadful. No, he just thought it was crap.

COSTAS: Oh, well just in a general way.

PARKER: And I said, you're an American and that's the beauty of this country, we're all entitled to our opinion. And I said have you really watched the show? And he is like I don't need to watch it to know. And I said, I'm sorry sir. What do you do? And he said, I'm a designer. And I said, I think your stuff is crap.

Just to make a point that... COSTAS: And you'd never seen his stuff.

PARKER: got to spend some time with something. And, by the way, he is totally entitled. But it was kind of funny.

But generally speaking, people were pretty receptive. And my character didn't provoke a lot of--you know, she was sort of the every man on the show. It was her point of view. And it was her, sort of, narrating. She was the sort of narrative voice .

So the only odd thing was that people tended to tell me intimate details of their life because they felt that I was Carrie and that I was their friend that way. And I'm somebody who doesn't share those things. So I was kind of -- it took me a while to get used to hearing certain things.

COSTAS: Were these acquaintances or even strangers?

PARKER: No, no, it's just strangers.

COSTAS: Strangers would come up to you and you'd be their mother or sister confessor.

PARKER: Yes. I would be their sex therapist. I would be their confessor. I would be their best friend or they'd show me things they just bought that were for, you know, use like in the bedroom or something. And you know, it was very odd. And -- but generally people were so receptive and warm.

COSTAS: Did you have kind of a way of dealing with that, to be polite but sort of end it as quickly as you could?

PARKER: In the beginning I would indulge it because I didn't want to offend anybody. But toward the latter stages of the show, I would just say, you know, I don't need to see what's in the bag or oh, don't tell me about your husband, you know. I'm glad you're OK. I'm glad it worked out.

COSTAS: Wouldn't people also have an opinion? Boy, I hope you wind up with the Mikhail Baryshnikov character or go back to Mr. Big.

PARKER: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yes, it really, you know, we were so wrapped up in the making of the show and I had so many responsibilities outside of being an actor on the show, and it really, really hit me that there was opinions about it when the night before the last airing of the -- the night before the airing of the last episode, I was watching CNN, and I see on The Crawl underneath, you know, who will Carrie Bradshaw choose tomorrow night?

And then after the show aired, Carrie Bradshaw, you know, Carrie chose Mr. Big tonight. And I was like, oh, my God. People care. I mean, people really have invested themselves. And it is like part of, you know--this word zeitgeist finally had some kind of real meaning to me. It was really stunning.

COSTAS: What happened to the Sex and the City movie that was talked about?

PARKER: We were not able to make it. I mean, some of us wanted to and some of us didn't.

COSTAS: No chance now?

PARKER: You know, I kind of -- you know, it was hard at the time, and I've sort of reconciled those things that kept it from happening. And I just sort of feel that the moment has passed. And maybe that's a good thing and, you know, never say never because maybe it's not for now, but maybe down the line a few years from now.

Right now it feels like it's too soon. If it didn't happen right then. And it was a really beautiful script. I mean, Michael Patrick wrote a magnificent, really juicy romantic comedy. Then maybe it's for later. I don't know. We'll see.

COSTAS: Do you feel as if Desperate Housewives, the current rage, was at least partly inspired by Sex and the City?

PARKER: Well, I think that HBO did a really clever thing, you know, creating this standing date on Sunday nights at 9:00. I think that's really a lot what this was about. I think, you know, there was a show that was successful to a smaller degree. I mean we couldn't have competed with Desperate Housewives number wise. You know, because we were in so fewer homes.

But this idea of this standing date for women Sunday nights at 9:00, brilliant. And now I think they need to do Monday nights at 9:00. No, I mean, HBO. That's what I'm thinking. I'm just still working for the network, see. Tuesday nights at 9:00.

COSTAS: It's good that you're willing to get in there and promote.

PARKER: Well, you know, I have a company that produces for them now.

COSTAS: Let's talk about that after this.


COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker is in "The Family Stone" in theaters now. And we're back on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


RACHEL MCADAMS, THE FAMILY STONE: So, she is a total phony. She's completely uptight. She dragged us to this freaking stiff restaurant. She talked the entire time. I mean, oh, you just wait. She's got this incredibly grotesque throat thing tick. It's like. It's like she's digging for clams.



PARKER: And I don't even know if I believe in soul mates.

KRISTEN DAVIS, SEX AND THE CITY: Don't laugh at me, but maybe we should be each other's soul mates. And then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with.

CATTRALL: Well, that sounds like a plan.


COSTAS: And we're back with Sarah Jessica Parker. I don't know how long ago this was written, but it's from "The London Daily Mail" talking about your character in Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw. Never before had one woman single handedly brought the fashion world to such a halt. Editors of glossy magazines no longer turn to the cat walk for the first source of breaking trends. It was Sarah Jessica Parker who ruled.

PARKER: Well that's Patricia Fields. Credit must be to Patricia Fields, who was our designer, who is like an institution here in the fashion world and in New York City. And she did things.

I did a movie with her called "Miami Rhapsody," and we wanted her to do the show because we knew that fashion is a part of the world, this world in New York City and especially at that time. And she had such a great point of view about it, and we knew she would do something that no one else had done. And she did.

And I will say this though in the very beginning, nobody would lend us a frock. No one would lend us a purse. No one would lend us a shoe. We had a shoestring budget. And she really made the clothes tell the story.

And it was a real turning point in like the beginning of the second season when Fendi loaned us a Fendi baguette. I don't know if you remember this. Pretend you don't.

COSTAS: Not exactly.

PARKER: It's cool. And that was it. It was like floodgates. All of a sudden it was OK. Then the world was our oyster.

COSTAS: So as someone who was known for wearing the Jimmy Choos and the Manolo Blahniks and carrying a Prada bag. Then you wind up as the spokesperson for the Gap.

PARKER: Right.

COSTAS: Just kind of an interesting...

PARKER: Well, what I really liked about -- you know, because I'm actually a Gap shopper. What I really liked about it was that this idea of good, affordable clothing for everybody. That there was this accessibility, and that there was a way to be trendy and still have something that was quality. And I really -- I love working for the company.

COSTAS: You grew up as one of eight kids in Cincinnati, as I remember from one of our previous discussions.

PARKER: Midwestern neighbor of St. Louis.

COSTAS: Yes, of St. Louis. You probably never thought you'd get to where you would have even four or five pairs of shoes in the closet.

PARKER: It was two shoes a year. The beginning fall shoes for school and in the spring we were allowed another pair.

COSTAS: What do your siblings do?

PARKER: Oh, my siblings are amazing. OK.

My oldest brother Pippin is a writer.

COSTAS: His name is Pippin?

PARKER: He's named after Pip in "Great Expectations."

COSTAS: Oh there you go.

PARKER: My father was a writer as well, a great writer.

COSTAS: I'm just guessing he isn't Ben Vereen.

PARKER: No, you guessed right. And he's writing a script for HBO right now actually a pilot. And my brother Tobey is a great actor, Timothy Britten. He's on the road in Wicked. My sister, Rachel, is a physician assistant, and she is head of cardiac care. And she just had her first baby on Saturday.

COSTAS: So it sounds like they're all very accomplished.

PARKER: Yes, everybody...

COSTAS: It turned out well for everybody.

PARKER: I have--let's see--wait. Myself and my brother, Andrew, who is head of props at the Roundabout Theater here in New York City. And my sister, Megan, who pulls focus on cameras in Los Angeles. My little sister, Alegra, who is mother of a 4 1/2-year-old, and my little brother, Aaron who is an A.D. He's in the DGA.

COSTAS: So more than half of them are involved in show business in some way or other.

PARKER: In the arts in some way. Yes.

COSTAS: And even though it was kind of a hard scrabble childhood. You weren't that well off. You did have arts training. That was important to your family. PARKER: We were definitely--if we didn't have training, we were at least exposed to the arts. And then we had ballet lessons because they were free or affordable or we got scholarships. And we had, you know, access to music classes.

And because my mother and father were really industrious and clever about figuring out ways of making those opportunities available to us. I mean they were really smart people, and they wanted us to have the riches that, you know, this country has to offer culturally. They were smart.

COSTAS: How much does your background inform your performances?

PARKER: Oh, I think in every possible way. I think life experience, who raised you, all that, that kind of -- your environment, you can't help. But inform the way you work.

COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker. The new film is "The Family Stone." And more on LARRY KING LIVE with Sarah Jessica right after this.


PARKER: Amy, I'm really sorry that you had to sleep on the couch last night. Maybe we can take turns.

MCADAMS: Don't sweat it.

PARKER: I wish you'd give me a chance. Whatever it is that I did wrong...-

MCADAMS: I said don't sweat it.

PARKER: But, I don't know what I did to you. I really don't, but you know? I don't care whether you like me or not.

MCADAMS: Oh, of course you do.



PARKER: This is delicious.


PARKER: You know, usually I bring my own dressing, that fat-free ranch stuff. But this is restaurant quality.


PARKER: Can I say something? When I first got your call, I said to Morty (ph), I said, this just feels so right, me and Gwenilla (ph).

See I used to work for Morty. I was his executive assistant behind the counter. Of course, he was married to that nightmare then, Brenda. I mean, completely class-free dumpster woman. I said to him, Morty, you've got to move on and move up. And now here I am.


COSTAS: Continuing now with Sarah Jessica Parker going way back. You were the third young actress to play Annie in its original Broadway run. How old were you when you took over the role?

PARKER: I was almost 13 to almost 15.

COSTAS: So you were able to play younger than your actual age?

PARKER: Yes, I was very small, very skinny and naturally the year I took over for the role of Annie I grew more that year than I ever grew in my life. I grew like four inches. And it was nutty, of course.

I recall early on in my year playing the role of Annie because I played an orphan first for a year, and then I played Annie for a year, that one of the stage managers just came and he was walking with this tiny girl and she was about to go out in the first national company. And she was really half my height, and they stood us back to back. And I was like this tall and she was that.

And he just said just put it in the back of your mind, Sarah Jessica that you're basically too, you know, too tall for the role, which I thought this is like Judy Garland, you know, at MGM. (INAUDIBLE) happening. But I stuck around. They couldn't get rid of me, you know, I was there for quite a while. It was great.

COSTAS: What is it like -- and I'm sure you've had conversations at home with Matthew about this -- what's it like the first night -- I know that you had a role -- but the first night that you're Annie, and the curtain goes up, and you look out at that audience, what does it feel like?

PARKER: It feels as good, as thrilling as you might imagine. It is, if you can't be a rock star, this is the next best thing. Because to sing with a live orchestra, and that time it was a really big pit, you know, there were a lot of musicians in that pit. To sing the very famous talk about iconic songs, "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow," I mean, it was how could this be happening to me? How did this happen to me? You know, it's -- it's -- at that point literally it was every little girl's dream. Literally, I mean, if you think about the Annie mania at that moment, 1979. It was crazy. It was fantastic.

COSTAS: Was there an element of fear?



PARKER: Remember what it is to be young and to not know what stakes are, or what that kind of responsibility is, besides someone telling you, this is a really big responsibility. OK. I'll work hard and I'll, you know, nose to the grindstone. But no, it was just let me out, let me out there. What time? Five of 8:00, five more minutes, let me out. It's that -- I mean, it's the difference between being really good at teeball or little league, and then getting in the majors, and then you're like oh, my God. You know, now it really matters. When you're a kid, you're just like -- you're all ego.

COSTAS: So you weren't the least bit intimidated then, but recently you were quoted as saying that getting back into film work after doing television for so long was, if they quoted you accurately, terrifying.

PARKER: It's terrifying because you're -- you know, like, kind of like what we were talking about earlier, you know, this comfort level that existed on "Sex and the City," you know, if you remove yourself, it's like the idea of working in the theater again. I haven't worked in the theater for three years. It is very nervous making to go back into a field where everybody else has been doing it. And clearly, everybody knew this was my first job after "Sex and the City." Most of these -- none of these people knew me. I'm sure some had some reservations about the idea of me playing this role. And it was just a lot of my own pressure that -- and my own ideas of what people were projecting on to me. You know? It is very intimidating to be around working film actors. I feel it less so today, because I've got three under my belt. But you know, I still -- but I like being intimidated, I like being nervous. I like agonizing over the work. It is just who I am.

COSTAS: Who she is is Sarah Jessica Parker. We have one more segment left before we wrap things up for this night on "LARRY KING LIVE." And that comes up after this break.



PARKER: You know we're about to be treated like slime. And that's if things go well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This will be a character building experience.

PARKER: Yeah. Someday when we're old and single and living in a trailer court, we'll laugh about this.


PARKER: Oh, my gosh.

COSTAS: Well, this is some day. Are you laughing about it? I guess you are.


COSTAS: That's "Square Pegs" from I'm not exactly sure when, but a long time ago.

PARKER: This is the first time my hair has been the same color as that show. I'm finally back to the real me. That show was great. That show was ahead of its time, man. That guy had on a Devo hair thing.

COSTAS: Yes, he did.

PARKER: That's who he was being, Devo.

COSTAS: I have to admit, I don't remember much about "Square Pegs" except the name of the show. Why was it ahead of its time?

PARKER: Because it was really super, super, super smart. I mean, it was about two girls who did not fit in because they were brainiacs. They were intellectuals. And they kept telling each other, you know, when we get to college, we're going to look back on all this and laugh. And one of them, my character, wore glasses, really thick glasses. And my best friend Lauren, played beautifully by Amy Linker, wore braces and they padded her. She was this gorgeous girl. And we were just smart, we were too smart. And we did not know how to play the game and fit in in high school.

And it was written by Anne Beatts, who was one of the original writers of "Saturday Night Live."

COSTAS: It occurs to me now that people have seen you since childhood, if they've followed your career, and you recently turned 40. You'll be doing this for a long time. They're going to have -- they're going to have the whole panorama on you, including when it becomes pretty much character roles at some point.

PARKER: Yes, if I'm lucky enough, yeah, I mean, that's the dream.

COSTAS: Down the road.

PARKER: Yeah. You know, I'd like to be Ruth Gordon, you know, doing great work, because she loved doing it and she was a great character actress. Yeah, I mean, you know, I've been really lucky. I've had a really long career, and I've worked with incredible people, and I've had great disappointments and great triumphs. And that's kind of everything you want in life, you know. You want to ride the wave and understand that there's peaks and valleys, and the valleys make the peaks a whole lot better, don't they?

COSTAS: Little James, 4 years old, Christmas coming up. Believes in Santa, right?

PARKER: Absolutely. He's made four simple requests.

COSTAS: And they are?

PARKER: I can't tell you.

COSTAS: OK, you can't tell me. Otherwise...

PARKER: But we're having...

COSTAS: It's between him and Santa, isn't it? PARKER: It is between him and Santa. And we did write a letter. It's, you know, off in the post, and we're having trouble with one of them, however. It eludes us.

COSTAS: What does he think when he sees mommy or daddy on the screen?

PARKER: He just saw me yesterday, and he said that he -- I saw you on television, and you speak very well.

COSTAS: This is a very mature kid.

PARKER: And he said, he saw pappa on television, and what did he say? Oh, he said, pappa -- oh, what did he say about Matthew? Something so beautiful. I don't remember. Something really nice.

COSTAS: But he finds you articulate, which is a compliment coming from a 4-year-old.

PARKER: Although he did see -- I was working one day for the -- creating this fragrance, and I was away promoting it for the day, and he said, oh, momma's not home right now, she's working at the perfume store. Kind of tragic...

COSTAS: The kid knows what's going on. Good to see you again.

PARKER: You look well, and many happy holidays.

COSTAS: Thanks, you too.

PARKER: Appreciate it.

COSTAS: Sarah Jessica Parker, whose new film is "The Family Stone." That will do it for LARRY KING LIVE for tonight. Bob Costas sitting in in New York. Happy holidays, everybody.