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Darren Star: Sex and the City almost went to ABC before Disney’s buyout

“I asked her, ‘Are you going to even be able to call the show ‘Sex and the City’?’” Star recalled. “I have a feeling it would have been ‘Love, American Style’ over there.”

“Sex and the City” without sex? Well, that’s what creator Darren Star worried about if the series ended up on network television.

ABC has courted star and “Sex and the City” writer Candace Bushnell to greenlight the series about four single women – played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis – which is set to take place in New York City looking for love

“I wanted to make a show that felt more like an independent film made for television — mature and mature, very open and honest about sexual relationships,” Star said in his new book, It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and The Future of HBO” by Felix Gillette and John Koblin, out now.

Author Bushnell recalled meeting Jamie Tarses, then ABC’s head of entertainment, in Bridgehampton on roller skates. “Kandace!” Bushnell recalled Tarses yelling from her car. “We really want to buy this from ABC. We really do. Who is your agent?”

However, Star had reservations about returning to network television. It’s Not TV states that “under normal circumstances, Star and Bushnell would have chosen Tarses and ABC,” but Star balked at venturing back into the network TV landscape, particularly when ABC was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1996 and boasted about a number of sitcoms like “Ellen” and “Home Improvement”.

“Star had lost interest in doing a standard comedy in front of a live studio audience with canned punchlines and an aggressive laugh track,” wrote Gillette and Koblin on It’s Not TV.

“He was mad at Network Television,” Bushnell added. “He was angry [after CBS canceled his series ‘Central Park West’].”

Star recalled how it was a “traumatic experience dealing with sex on ‘90210’” and the setback he received for wanting a gay character on Melrose Place in West Hollywood.

“I asked her, ‘Are you going to even be able to call the show ‘Sex and the City’?” Star said on ABC. “I have a feeling it would have been ‘Love, American Style’ over there.”

And the burgeoning network HBO “has been following it really hard. Like, they wanted it. she Yes, really wanted it,” Bushnell said of the Sex and the City deal.

She continued, “I didn’t even own a TV. The literary world wasn’t even keen on film adaptations. One had the feeling that one did not want to soil the work. The boys at HBO were part of the world socially but not creatively. They were books. It was literature. It should go to Elaine.”

Star had proposed adapting Bushnell’s work to then-HBO President Carolyn Strauss as a modern take on the 1960s series That Girl.

“The characters in the book were amazing,” Strauss said. “And it was such an ambitious thing. It was disrespectful. It was funny.”

Ultimately, Sex and the City ended up on HBO and ran from 1998 to 2004, garnering seven Emmy wins and spurring the revival series And Just Like That. Just three years after SATC’s conclusion, HBO President Strauss passed on a SATC-inspired drama called Desperate Housewives in a circular procession, which went to ABC instead.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/11/darren-star-sex-and-the-city-neutered-at-disney-abc-1234778088/ Darren Star: Sex and the City almost went to ABC before Disney’s buyout

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