- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — In this town where witches are no laughing matter, a proposed statue immortalizing TV’s “Bewitched” has left some residents wishing they could simply make the thing magically disappear.

The 9-foot-high bronze statue of sitcom character Samantha Stephens astride a broom, one of a series of sculptures nationwide proposed by TV Land cable network, is near where 19 persons were hanged during the witch hysteria of 1692.

It’s also one of Salem’s busiest intersections.

“It’s in horribly bad taste,” said John Carr, a lifelong resident. “It is trivializing that aspect of Salem’s history.”

Proponents say the statue is harmless fun in a place that has long made money from witch mythology. Salem bills itself as the “Witch City” and each October hosts a Halloween festival, which draws thousands of tourists and is monitored by police in cruisers with witch logos.

“Do we need more kitsch?” asked longtime resident Meg Twohey, who objects to the tribute to “Bewitched,” which aired on ABC from 1964 to 1972. “We are giving out public space for a TV group to make money. I don’t understand why we’re doing it.”

Thomas Doherty, a Salem resident since 1991 and TV historian at Brandeis University, said it’s hard to get upset about the statue because the city has been milking its past for profit “since 1692.”

“I think the city can sort of do both,” Mr. Doherty said. “It can remember the dark side of its heritage, but can celebrate getting beyond it.”

TV Land has offered similar statues of bus driver Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners” at the Port Authority in New York; Andy and Opie Taylor, from “The Andy Griffith Show,” in Raleigh, N.C.; and Mary Richards in Minneapolis, where “The Mary Tyler Moore” show was set.

Critics point out that the link between Salem and “Bewitched” is tenuous. The show was set in Westport, Conn., but a few 1970 episodes were filmed in Salem, where Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, attended a witch convention.

Rob Pellizzi, senior vice president of TV Land, said network representatives visited Salem last Halloween, and came away convinced that Salem had “embraced the pop-culture side” of its history.

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