''Sex and the City'''s producers have been hinting that, as the series comes to a close this season, Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw will choose between old flame Big (Chris Noth) and a new man, a famous artist played by a well-known surprise leading man. Now, Parker has revealed to the New York Times the name of the mystery actor playing the artist who may prove to be Carrie's great love.
Sweeping Carrie off her feet will be Mikhail Baryshnikov, whom Parker persuaded to come out of acting retirement for the role. (The world's most famous dancer, he had his last high-profile straight acting role in the 1986 film ''White Nights.'') ''We had to make Big look like a high school sweetheart,'' Parker tells the Times. Of Baryshnikov, she says, ''He has such presence that Carrie gets bigger too. The scale changes her.''
Explaining his reemergence, the 55-year-old dancer told the Times, ''I seem to have a tendency to do things people think I shouldn't do.'' Plus, he adds, ''I think it's about time to do something my children can't watch.''
The real-life model for Carrie, writer Candace Bushnell, married a ballet dancer herself after a whirlwind courtship last summer. But Parker says there's no connection between Bushnell's marriage to Charles Askegard and her own idea to cast Baryshnikov. ''Besides,'' she says, ''Carrie has moved pretty far away from Candace by now.''
Parker wouldn't say whether she ends up with Noth's Big or Baryshnikov's Alexander Petrovsky. ''I have to keep the secrets,'' she said. ''But this is a really important storyline. This is not a short tenure.''