Like the former bad boy who disappears for a few months to clean up his act, ''Sex and the City'' has had an image makeover. Yes, the show that sparked nationwide debates on ''funky spunk'' and threesome etiquette has been sanitized for syndication. (Reruns start June 15 at 10 p.m. on TBS.)
''I couldn't even picture it -- it seemed like a crazy notion,'' says Kristin Davis (Charlotte) of the squeaky-clean -- sort of -- version of Sex. Making the foursome's antics basic-cable-ready required some redubbing by the actresses and editing in ''just in case'' dialogue and scenes that the cast had filmed during the series' six-year run. Adds Davis, ''[Watching the new version], I was sitting there trying to figure out what they left out!'' That's easy to say for the person whose most R-rated rant involved the fear of being dubbed the ''up the butt'' girl in episode 4. (For the record, Davis claims she ''can't remember'' what she subbed in for that choice phrase. We're not venturing a guess.)
When cleaning up more explicit musings, the cast offered their own suggestions for filling in the F-words. ''I felt as Samantha, she wouldn't say, 'You gotta make love to me,' she'd say, 'You gotta bang me,''' says Kim Cattrall, who probably had the most work, given Samantha's proclivities. Adds Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda: ''If [the dubbed line] seemed really dumb or made us look like we were in a Japanese movie, we'd sit together and come up with what we thought was the best version.'' But will die-hard fans be able to tell the difference? Says Cattrall: ''If [scenes] are a little shorter, the thrust is definitely still there.'' So to speak.