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Sex-starved 'Witches' are having a dry spell

THE SHOW "Eastwick"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 10 on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Terrific Canadian actor Paul Gross, as Daryl Van Horne. Otherwise, caveat emptor.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT There are three beautiful women in the seaside town of Eastwick upon whose heads a magic coin falls one fateful day. These ladies - hormonally supercharged artist Roxie (Rebecca Romijn), repressed mom-who's-married-to-the-town-creep Kat (Jamie Ray Newman) and wallflower newspaper reporter Joanna (Lindsay Price) - normally don't like each other, but the magic they share brings them together, for drinks.

They learn secrets about one another, but there is someone out there, a sinister force - who lives in New York City, natch - that already knows everything about them. One day, Daryl Van Horne (Gross, "Slings & Arrows") comes to town, and their dreams would seem to be coming true. Or are they?

BOTTOM LINE Ever since John Updike's novel was made into a 1987 movie starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, TV has been drawn to this story like a vampire to fresh meat. "The Witches of Eastwick" is about sex, and TV, you may have heard, likes sex, especially if it can get millions of people to watch.

Tonight's version is the third time TV has attempted to adapt the work (the others never made it to air). Three is not the charm ABC was hoping for. "Eastwick" is indeed about sex - actually, to be more specific, about penises, which abound in metaphors throughout - but it also is witless, forced and as steamy as a cold bath.

This is a shame and a waste of three gorgeous actresses, a wonderful actor (Gross) and an idea that - with a little more wit, smarter writing and less soap - could have yielded a winner.


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