By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 08, 2003 03:06 PM

Sunday nights will never be the same.

On Tuesday, HBO (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner) announced that its popular, Emmy-winning “Sex and the City,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker as sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw, will end its run early next year after six seasons.

The final season will consist of 20 half-hour episodes, reports Variety, with shooting set to start March 31 in New York.

Twelve of those episodes will premiere in June, with the remaining eight set to air during a mini-season scheduled to debut a year from now.

The announcement, which came during this week’s Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Los Angeles, was not particularly good news for TV fans. Many have built their weekends around the Sunday night staple as well as another must-see HBO program, “The Sopranos” — which also is set to conclude at the end of next season, its fifth.

But, reports Variety, the pay-cable network remains open to both shows returning. Carolyn Strauss, executive VP of original programming for HBO, says that the ultimate fate of the programs rests with the creative forces behind them.

“Everybody involved is entitled to change their (sic) mind,” she said.