Friday, July 28, 2006

My boss thinks I’m crazy — but he’s into X-Men

via The Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX because The Salem News thinks the internet is a series of tubes.

Bewitched’ fans wrap up enchanting convention

By Chris Cassidy
THE SALEM NEWS (SALEM, Mass.)

SALEM, Mass.Judy McClelland carries a purse displaying a photo of Elizabeth Montgomery.

She wears replicas of the necklace and bracelet that adorned Samantha Stephens. The ring on her cell phone is set to the “Bewitched” theme song.

But maybe the deepest expression of her fanaticism toward the popular 1960s sitcom came this week when she traveled all the way from Melbourne, Australia, for this year’s five-day “Bewitched” convention at Salem State College.

“We flew in on our broomsticks,” joked McClelland, who actually arrived by plane with her friend Melanie McDonald.

Since Saturday, about 30 of the show’s fans — most of whom originally met on the Internet — reminisced about the old days when a nose-twitching witch dominated prime-time television.

“It’s nice to connect a face to a blog name,” said Jean Yannes, a “Bewitched” memorabilia collector who came from Queens, N.Y. “... Later on, we’re going to reveal our eBay names so we know we’re not bidding against each other.”

During Wednesday night’s convention finale, fans wore “Bewitched” T-shirts, screened a classic episode of the show and watched a slide presentation called “Elizabeth Montgomery: Remembering the Magic.”

They also paid tribute to Kasey Rogers — Louise Tate on the show — who died earlier this month. Photographs of Rogers’ career flashed across the screen, as the song “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie hummed in the background.

“We’ve actually dedicated the whole convention to her,” Yannes said.

Rogers, who was in Salem last year for the dedication of TV Land’s Samantha Stephens statue in Lappin Park, had planned to participate in the convention.

Along a side wall, a silent auction showcased a 1965 Samantha doll (high bid $100), original “Bewitched” artwork ($20) and copies of The Salem News with articles on the convention and last year’s statue unveiling ($22).

Yes, there are still fans of “Bewitched” — and they’re armed with collectibles. Yannes, an accountant, has blanketed an entire wall of his office with “Bewitched” photos and items he’s picked up on online auctions.

“I’ll use lines from the show in conversation,” Yannes said. “My boss thinks I’m crazy — but he’s into ‘X-Men.’”

McDonald wore a necklace of Samantha Stephens on a broomstick to the final night’s event, the “Galactic Rejuvenation Dinner Dance.”

And convention organizer Mark Simpson, who flew in from Tacoma, Wash., not only owns photographs, magazines, DVDs and board games from the show, but he’s also launched his own fan site on the Internet — The Bewitched Collector.

But if conventioneers are united by Samantha Stephens, many are divided by her husband, Darrin, played by Dick York for five seasons, then Dick Sargent.

“I prefer Dick York,” Yannes said. “His face is more malleable. He can do more facial expressions.”

But Simpson thinks many dismiss the “replacement” Darrin too quickly.

“I defend Dick Sargent,” Simpson said. “He had to know people were comparing him to Dick York. I think he did a great job.”

Although most of the shows are set in Westport, Conn., producers filmed eight episodes in Salem after a fire damaged the set. While in the Witch City, Samantha and Darrin tour the House of the Seven Gables and stay at the Hawthorne Hotel. At one point, the couple is transported back in time and nearly put on trial for witchcraft.

During their five days on the North Shore, fans took the Salem Witchcraft Walk, screened Salem-based episodes of the show and participated in seminars with such titles as “Agnes Moorehead: Tribute to a Goddess.”

They even took a day trip to Gloucester, the setting for one classic episode where Darrin was changed into the man in the Fishermen’s Monument.

So what makes adults obsess over a show that hasn’t rolled out new episodes since the Vietnam War?

“I love Endora’s wicked, witty lines,” McDonald said.

“The twitching of the nose,” said Joan Brennan of Salem.

“It’s the message it conveys,” said Tom Stevenson, who also came from Tacoma. “That being different is OK.”

Chris Cassidy writes for The Salem (Mass.) News.

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