The fine line between plugging and commemorating


Wow, I had no idea there was a Samantha Stevens--"Bewitched"--statue in Salem, MA. But there is, and she was part of a campaign TV Land launched in 2000, commemorating shows they planned on continuing in re-runs; other statues included Opie & Andy in Raleigh, NC, MTM's Mary Richards in Minneapolis, and Bob Newhart's Dr. Robert Hartley in Chicago. The 8-ft bronze Samantha was erected in June of '05, to the delight of some TV Land die-hards and the chagrin of some who didn't embrace the irony. Most recently, the statue has inspired photographer Jennifer Layzer's new series, "The Salem Project," as elucidated in her statement:

I am concerned with the collective misremembering of history. My reading of first-hand accounts of the Salem witchcraft crisis informs these photographic reenactments, in which I use contemporary plastic dolls to comment on the commercialization and trivialization of horrific events. The anachronism of these scenes brings past events closer to the present, makes history more immediate.

If you're in Boston, you can catch her photos this Thursday at a Brattle Theatre silent auction. And speaking of film-and-TV reified via statues, those publicly displayed tablets of The Ten Commandments (the ones that have been the locus of separation of church & state issues)? Well, most of them were installed in 1956 to help promote Charlton Heston & co. in The Ten Commandments. Director Cecile B. DeMille was really just piggybacking on a program to implement the tablets that was spearheaded by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. That's some really formidable publicity!