Updike’s coven makes another best witch movie list

John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick has become one of the author’s most popular books over the past decade, and maybe that’s because the 1987 film version has become a bit of a coven classic. Yesterday another list of top witch movies included the Eastwick bunch.

“The magic of Witch Movies: A Look at the best films about Witches,” by Deepak Kumar, was posted June 3, 2023 on the Fansided website. The George Miller-directed film was the fourth one listed, after The Witch (2015), The Craft (1996), and Hocus Pocus (1993). Of the film, Kumar wrote, “The Witches of Eastwick is a dark fantasy-comedy film released in 1987. Based on the novel by John Updike, the story is set in the fictional town of Eastwick, Rhode Island and centers around three women who unexpectedly discover they possess supernatural powers.” By getting divorced, one might add.

The film had plenty of star power, with Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne, Cher as Alexandra Medford, Susan Sarandon as Jane Spofford, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Sukie Ridgemont. Future Best Actor Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins played Clyde Alden, editor of the local newspaper. Though it didn’t wow critics or audiences, The Witches of Eastwick received Oscar nominations for Best Sound and Best Original Score (John Williams). And it won a BAFTA for Best Special Effects.

If you visit The John Updike Childhood Home in Shillington, Pa., look for The Witches of Eastwick original theater poster. Nearby, in a case that also contains items related to Updike’s appearance on The Simpsons, will be a concert program used as a prop in the film.

Updike’s three witches make third on this best-of list

A website named Otakukart just published an article by Arnab Ray on the “45 Best Magical Witch Movies That You Should know,” and wouldn’t you know it, George Miller’s 1987 adaptation of John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick was the third film listed.

“When a desire comes true at a price, and a male protagonist enters their lives, three lonely and sex-deprived women (Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer), who have all lost their spouses, meet together once a week for drinking.

“This 1987 dark fantasy-comedy movie, which George Miller directed, is based on a novel written by John Updike. The movie is very fun to watch and will never leave you bored for the sake of establishing plot points.”

Witches of Eastwick remake is reportedly in development

The Internet Movie Database only notes that a new Witches of Eastwick movie is “in development,” but Distractify published a piece yesterday on “Here’s Everything We Know About the ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ Remake So Far.”

Quoting Warner Bros. Screen Daily, Katherine Stinson reported that the project is moving forward with Swedish filmmaker Ninja Thyberg “attached to the project to direct” and producers currently working on the project “include husband-and-wife producing team Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher.” Stinson wrote that Wick’s previous producing credits included Gladiator, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Great Gatsby, and two Divergent films, while Fisher, in addition to those films, was involved with the 2005 Bewitched movie adaptation.

The original 1987 film starred Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer, with Updike later identifying Pfeiffer as his favorite.

Tonight only: Updike’s Witches take the London stage

Playbill‘s Leah Putnam reports that for one night only, June 20, 2022, The Witches of Eastwick Concert will play London’s Sondheim Theatre, with original cast member Maria Friedman directing the performance.

The cast consists of Natasha J Barnes as Alexandra, John Partridge as Darryl Van Horne, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Sukie, and Laura Pitt-Pulford as Jane.

“Featuring a book by and lyrics by John Dempsey (The Fix), with music by Dana P. Rowe (The Fix), the show is based on the John Updike novel and film adaptation of the same name. Musical staging is by Chrissie Cartwright, with associate direction by Jack McCann, and associate musical direction by Mike Steel. Also serving on the creative team are Isaac McCullough as musical director, Jonathan Lipman as costume designer, Simon Sherriff as lighting designer, Adam Fisher as sound designer. Jack Maple serves as producer of the concert, which is presented by arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.

“Friedman said in a statement, ‘I’m so incredibly excited to be revisiting Eastwick after all these years. To be reunited with the fantastic Stephen Mear, and to have the opportunity to bring this beloved musical back to London, and at the simply stunning Sondheim Theatre, for one-night-only is an absolute thrill, and I can’t wait to get started.” Friedman is set to reprise her direction of Merrily We Roll Along when the British production transfers to Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop later this year.

The Witches of Eastwick‘s last major production on the London stage was its original run at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2000, from which it transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre the following year.”

Read the whole article.

Indie flick includes an Updike novel prop

Who’s reading (or at least pretending to read) John Updike?

That would be Emma Roberts, Julia Robert’s niece. A sharp-eyed Updike fan spotted her holding a copy of Rabbit, Run in a scene from In a Relationship, a 2018 indie film written, directed, and produced by Sam Boyd. The film tracks two couples in their relationships over the course of one summer and stars Roberts, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway, and Patrick Gibson.

The cover of this paperback is unfamiliar. Since book titles aren’t copyrighted but book cover designs do fall under the protection of intellectual property laws, chances are that this cover was a “dummy” created to be used as a prop. And Sam, if we guessed right, maybe you’d like to donate it to The John Updike Childhood Home?

One of the stars is the great granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, so who knows? Maybe a Hemingway fan will spot one of Papa’s novels in another scene. As of this moment, Amazon has the DVD of In a Relationship on sale for $6.74.

Updike’s 90th Birthday Celebration streamed on Facebook Live

John Updike was born 90 years ago on this date. To celebrate, John Updike Childhood Home Director of Education Maria Lester organized and hosted a reading featuring prominent Berks County residents. Watch the Facebook Live recording of the 90th Birthday Celebration at The John Updike Childhood Home, 117 Philadelphia Ave., Shillington, Pa., featuring readings from Updike’s works, interviews, letters, and even personal love poems written as a 10 year old in Shillington.

:01—Introduction and reading by Maria Lester, Director of Education at The John Updike Childhood Home (pictured)

4:54—Samantha J. Wesner, Senior Vice President Student & Campus Life, Albright College

17:18—Conrad Vanino, Shillington Councilperson and Fire Police Lt.

22:13—Charles J. Adams III, Editor, The Historical Review of Berks County

35:48—Bill McKay, Superintendent, Governor Mifflin School District

44:55—Melissa Adams, Executive Director, The Reading Public Library

49:10—Jackie Hirneisen Kendall, Updike’s classmate and first “crush”

53:55—Dave Silcox, Updike’s Berks County contact for 10 years

57:40—David W. Ruoff, former student and friend of Wesley Updike

1:01:00—Jack De Bellis, author of Updike’s Early Years, The John Updike Encyclopedia, and John Updike Remembered

Singer-songwriter pens, performs song about Updike

Gary Louris, a singer-songwriter and founding member of the Minneapolis-based band The Jayhawks, has written a song titled “Mr. Updike,” his ode to the author.

“Mr. Updike” is one of the singles on a solo album that was released today, June 4 on Sham/Thirty Tigers.

You can see Louris perform “Mr. Updike” in a music video on YouTube. In addition, here’s a link to Jump for Joy—that new album written, performed, recorded, and produced entirely by Louris, who says he’s currently rereading Rabbit Redux.


Any more Updike movies in the works?

The Hastings Tribune‘s Rich Heldenfels (Tribune News Service, Nebraska) was asked by a reader, “Do you know of any plans to make (remake) a film based on any John Updike novels?”

Heldenfels replied, “I do not know of any plans. There have been a few adaptations of the works of Updike, one of the most admired American writers. There’s a 1970 movie of his novel Rabbit, Run, with James Caan, TV-movie Too Far to Go (1979) from Updike short stories, movies and TV productions inspired by the novel The Witches of Eastwick and a few shorter productions.

“Shortly after Updike died in 2009 at the age of 76, Scott Timberg pondered Updike’s ‘dozens of novels and several hundred short stories’ for TheWrap.com and saw several reasons why Updike did not make it to the movies much. One was style: ‘His writing is so visual, at the level of image and metaphor, it’s almost redundant to put it into a visual medium.’ In addition, ‘The “American small town, Protestant middle class” as he described his milieu, has not been of very big interest, personally or cinematically, to the Hollywood establishment.’ (The Witches of Eastwick with its supernatural element was thought more accessible for audiences.) Nor has Updike had a film-industry champion eager to put his work onscreen the way some other writers of his era have, Timberg wrote.

Stage version of Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius opens today

It’s been three years in the making, but today the curtain opens again on the stage version of John Updike’s Hamlet prequel, Gertrude and Claudius.

As Jeffrey Borak of The Berkshire Eagle, dateline Pittsfield, Mass., writes, “Based on a novel by John Updike, Mark St. Germain’s ‘Gertrude and Claudius’ was commissioned by Orlando Shakespeare Theatre in 2016. It took three years and a grant from the Edgerton Foundation for the play to have its world premiere earlier this year in Orlando, Fla., in a production that ran from late February to late March.

“‘The rights were held up. Updike’s son, David, was helpful in getting the rights released,’ St. Germain said, explaining the delay, during a recent pre-rehearsal interview in a conference room at Barrington Stage Company’s Wolfson Center on North Street, where he was joined by BSC artistic director Julianne Boyd and Elijah Alexander and Kate MacCluggage who are playing the title couple in the Boyd-directed production of ‘Gertrude and Claudius’ which . . . officially opens Sunday afternoon at BSC’s Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, where it is scheduled to run through Aug. 3.”

“‘The relationship between Gertrude and her son is beautifully drawn’ Alexander said. ‘Claudius is a childless man, wanting to be a father.'”

“‘The stakes are high here,’ Boyd said. ‘Gertrude and Claudius are willing to risk all for sex and love.'”

“‘I think one of the questions Mark raises in the play is ‘What is love? Is it just how people feel?'” MacCluggage said.

Read the full article.

In “Barrington Stage Company Presents Mark St. Germain’s ‘Gertrude And Claudius,'” Joe Donahue, or The Roundtable (19 July 2019) writes, “‘Gertrude and Claudius’ is based on John Updike’s 2000 novel of the same title. The story shows Queen Gertrude’s relationship with Hamlet’s father, who appears only as a ghost in the Shakespeare play, and how she conspires with his brother Claudius to commit the murder that sets in motion the events of the classic drama.

“St. Germain has a long history with Barrington Stage, this being his 13th play produced by the company.”

YouTube Behind-the-scenes clips and interviews from the Barrington Stage production


Reading Eagle shares 50-year old call for Rabbit, Run auditions

As part of Bill Uhrich’s “Flashback Friday,” the Reading Eagle yesterday published an article from May 17, 1969, announcing “‘Rabbit Run’ Auditions To Begin Here.”

“Bert Remsen, executive assistant to the producer and director of the Warner Bros. production of “Rabbit Run,” announced today that auditions for supporting roles in the film will be held here Monday through Wednesday.

“Remsen, who is in charge of casting said that he will begin auditioning Monday at 10:30 a.m. in the Reading Motor Inn.

“The filming of John Updike’s novel is presently under way at Warner Bros. Burbank, Calif., studios and the company will move to Reading on June 25 to begin location shooting.”