Friday, January 23, 2009

Witches on TV! Again! reports that ABC is developing the John Updike novel (or, more likely, the schlocky film somewhat based on it) for television, with Maggie Friedman of Dawson's Creek as head writer.

My main problem with the film is that, first of all, the main characters were made far more glamorous than their portrayal in the novel. Sukie, Jane and Alexandra were played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Cher, respectively. This took away from the significant issues of competition and sexual viability these women-approaching-middle-age were feeling. Alex was meant to be considerably overweight, for example, and, in the novel, envied Jane's and Sukie's thinness. The competition among them was so fierce, in fact, that the three witches decide to create a spell to kill a young woman who steals the object of their affection from them (Daryl Van Horne, played with delicious devilry by Jack Nicholson). That's the other very important plot point left out: the decision to perform an act of magic that amounts to murder. The sequel novel, The Widows of Eastwick, begins with the idea that the guilt over this murder (performed fifteen years earlier) is still very much alive in Alexandra, at least (I have only read 22 pages or so).

I am an eager to finish reading it, although I highly doubt a film version will be made about older, unglamorous witches. I always hoped someone else would try this again for the large or small screen and deal with the story in a more faithful and this more interesting way. I think it would work in an arthouse kind of way.

Why can't Hollywood engage a complex, realistic novel in a complex, realistic way?

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