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News » TV & Games

Which Witch?

Rose McGowan replaces Shannen Doherty on The WB’s Charmed; world braces for untold impact.



Aside from “Is Buffy dead?” (No, Vampire Slayer is just moving to UPN, which is nearly the same thing) and “Where the hell is Nyk Fry’s Fluid Television?” (The brain trust at KUTV 2 canceled it—more on this in a future Tube Town), is there a more pressing question on the minds of TV viewers than “Who’s gonna replace Shannen Doherty on Charmed?” Not on your couch-potato life.

The backstory: Charmed—about three good-witch sisters who, despite spending most of their time vanquishing evil demons and casting spells, still manage to look fabu and maintain a comfy lifestyle in San Francisco—has been one of The WB’s top-rated shows for three years now. Prue (Doherty) is a photographer, Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) is a college student and Piper (Holly Marie Combs) runs a nightclub … yeah, whenever there’s a lull in the plot. How these busty brunettes afford their clotheshorse habits (brassieres are the sisters’ only poke-your-eye-out-obvious budget cutbacks) can only be chalked up to the supernatural. Or undead producer Aaron Spelling, same diff.

Late this past season, rumors of heated Doherty-Milano catfights began leaking from the Charmed set. Hardly surprising to anyone who recalls Doherty’s mucho-publicized psycho-bitch blowups from her Beverly Hills 90210 days. But it was actually “sweet” Milano who stuck a her-or-me ultimatum Post-It to Spelling’s coffin during the filming of the Doherty-directed season finale. When he arose shortly after sunset and read it, Spelling quickly consulted The WB’s website message boards (at TheWB.com, highly entertaining) to determine which of the battling babes was more popular amongst viewers. A few clicks later, Doherty was driving away from the Paramount lot with a pink slip and possibly a 2.5 blood-alcohol level. The show’s “Power of Three” storyline was now seriously out of whack.

Just as with 90210, it was only a matter of time before Spelling coughed up a replacement for Doherty, among other things. Ironically, 90210’s Tiffani-Amber Theissen was approached, as were Jennifer Love Hewitt (Party of Five) and Denise Richards (Wild Things). None of them wanted the gig, fortunately. Theissen’s big ol’ chipmunk face crowds the TV screen, and nebulous talents Hewitt and Richards couldn’t act their way out of a soft-core faux-lesbian thriller, as evidenced in Wild Things … What? It was Hewitt’s PO5 costar Neve Campbell “emoting” with Richards in that movie? It’s not like I’ve watched it several dozen times with the VCR’s freeze-frame button jammed or anything …

Focus, back on topic: The Only TV Column That Matters™ is suspicious yet mildly relieved to report that the new Charmed sister is none other than film starlet Rose McGowan, last seen by hundreds of people in the box-office bomb Monkeybone, her follow-up to Ready to Rumble and Jawbreaker, seen by even fewer. Unless you count a role in the first Scream movie, The WB isn’t going to be a huge step back for her career.

Still not ringing any bells? McGowan’s moment of infamy came when she showed up at the 1998 MTV Awards on the scrawny arm of then-fiancé Marilyn Manson, wearing little more than a black basketball net and heels. These were the pre-Lil’ Kim and J-Lo days, mind you—McGowan was a trailblazer for award-show overexposure.

Too bad she’s still only really known for that and her recurring typecast as a smoldering hell-skank, because she showed some serious acting chops in the obscure indie-flicks The Last Stop, Southie and Lewis & Clark & George. All three are readily available at your local video shop alongside her two (!) Pauly Shore movies (Encino Man and Bio-Dome), as well as two of the absolute worst indie-craploads ever produced (overrated Gregg Araki’s Doom Generation and Nowhere). McGowan’s may be a textbook “uneven film career,” but it’s still no match for Milano’s or Combs’ (Embrace of the Vampire and Dr. Giggles, anyone?).

Black hair, check. Pouty lips, check. Aversion to bras, check. Firm belief that Aaron Spelling won’t crumble to dust upon their first handshake, well, she’ll work on it. McGowan will join Charmed as the younger sister no one knew existed (kinda like Buffy’s Dawn—yes, I know waaay too much WB information) after the untimely death of Prue, according to completely unverifiable Internet news sources. Once in print here, however, it’s gospel.

With the Power of Three restored, I’d like the first order of business to be the cosmic annihilation of the evil force known as Gregg Araki. If I can’t get my movie money back, I’d at least like him plunged back into the depths of hell, cool?