WITCHCRAFT: MAKING MAGIC

As early as June a new witch may descend on Salem, Mass. The TV Land cable network is poised to erect a nine-foot, 1,500-pound statue honoring Samantha Stevens--the witch-cum-housewife in the sitcom "Bewitched." Pending final approval by Salem next week, the bronze behemoth will depict Samantha flying on a broom before a crescent moon; it will sit in a small park. "It adds to the recognition of the city and offers a whimsical look at life," says Mayor Stanley Usovicz.

But some residents are twitching their noses in hopes the idea will vanish. Critics believe that honoring a comedy series belittles the town's tragic history: 20 people were executed during the 1692 witch trials. "They've certainly confused fiction with reality, and that's demeaning," says resident Jean Harrison. She also points out that only a few episodes of "Bewitched" were filmed in Salem; the series was set in Westport, Conn. And then there's timing. Opponents think the statue--to be unveiled at the same time that "Bewitched" hits the silver screen--is blatant advertising. But maybe it's just magic.