'Sex And The City' In Final Lap

All true fans of "Sex and the City" are overjoyed that its season premiere is just days away.

But at the same time, the end is in sight. This sixth season of HBO's dishy gal-pal comedy will be the last, a long goodbye no one feels more acutely than Kristin Davis.

"When we got back and were shooting our group photo, which we do at the beginning of every year, someone said, 'This is our last group photo,"' recalls Davis, who, in the glam foursome, plays Smith-educated art dealer Charlotte York. "I had to declare a moratorium: `We can't talk about it every day. I'm not good with endings!'"

Fortunately, the season will roll out in two parts to ease viewer withdrawal: 12 weekly episodes begin Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT, with a resumption next January for eight more, including a grand send-off, whatever that may entail.

For instance: Whither the blossoming relationship between Charlotte and her lawyer-turned-lover Harry Goldenblatt?

Already they're a cozy pair, despite his being pudgy, bald and, well, not Episcopalian. But Harry (played by Evan Handler) has told his "shiksa goddess" they can't marry since she isn't Jewish, which is a distinction lost on her when, in a restaurant, he goes and orders tenderloin of pork.

"I'm not kosher," Harry tries to explain. "I'm conservative."

"I'm conservative, too!" Charlotte reminds him.

"Yeah, well," says Harry, "MY conservative doesn't have anything to do with wearing pearls."

Fine. Next week, Charlotte will be rapping on rabbis' doors, looking to convert. (After all, she reasons, Liz Taylor did it for Eddie Fisher.)

Davis is psyched about her character's spirited new mission.

"In the beginning, her job was to provide the alternate point of view," she notes. "In season one and even season two, I'm almost always disagreeing with the other girls. Or I don't understand something. I look very surprised and shocked and slightly upset at whatever they say. That was my job."

Then Charlotte landed Park Avenue cardiologist Trey MacDougal (Kyle MacLachlan), which led to a short-lived, comically calamitous marriage.

At the end of last season, Harry, who handled her divorce, had succeeded Trey as her whodathunkit Prince Charming. "What if the absolute opposite of what you had pictured makes you happy?" poses Davis. "How far will you go for love?"

She herself may not find out until early next year, when production wraps for good. Even so, over lunch in her Upper West Side neighborhood, she is eagerly appraising her series' phenomenal run. On this day off she is dressed down in jeans and a pink T-shirt with Buddha traced in sequins, and, without her slim figure taking notice, she boasts a hearty appetite: tomato-and-mozzarella appetizer and an omelet she specified "NOT egg whites only."

Like everyone else, Davis says between bites, she expected "Sex and the City" to be a cult success at best when it arrived in June 1998.

As Charlotte, aglow with blue-blood pedigree and cheerleader zest, Davis joined Sarah Jessica Parker playing newspaper sex columnist Carrie; Cynthia Nixon as Miranda, the hard-edged corporate lawyer; and Kim Cattrall playing Samantha, a PR exec who treats the world of men as a toy department where she's the product tester.

"I didn't think anybody in Iowa would care about these New York City women," says Davis, retracing the show's escalating popularity. "The first season it was here. The second season, a little step up. Then the third season it went ker-BONG!"

For one thing, that year Davis and her co-stars scored the cover of Time magazine to illustrate a story titled "Who Needs a Husband?" Clearly, "Sex and the City" had put a face (or, rather, four of them) to a new phase of women's liberation. It was bigger than a TV show; it was a cultural marker.

Despite her past runs on "ER" and "Melrose Place," Davis had never experienced a "ker-BONG!" level of stardom.

"People on the street went from shouting my character's name to shouting MY name," she says, her big brown eyes sparkling.

But a certain kind of fan, she hastens to add, doesn't bother with names.

At a posh affair at the New York Public Library just a few days earlier, "the waiters were very, very handsome," reports Davis. "This one waiter — I was unaware of sending any signals, you know what I mean — but he came up and pointed and said, 'You and me. Let's go.' And right there was a door into a garden. He said, 'Let's go.' I said, 'No, thank you.'"

"It was flattering," Davis confides, then laughs at this talk about sex and the city.