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Reprinted with permission
A 140-year-old cemetery in Wilmington that's typically a quiet, somber spot hosted some unusual visitors on Friday.
Among the headstones of some of Wilmington's oldest residents, including 135 Confederate veterans and several sailors who died while at the local port, the story of a fictional family of witches unfolded.
The tale, which first came to life in 2011 on the pages of "Witches of East End," a best-selling novel by Melissa de la Cruz, is now getting the Hollywood treatment as a pilot for the Lifetime network. The TV production kicked off filming in the Port City on Oct. 15, and will follow the Beauchamps, a family of witches who have been forced to suppress their mystical abilities for centuries.
The cemetery, which was chartered by the state in 1877 at North 17th Street and Princess Place Drive, hosted some of the pilot's stars on Friday, including actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum ("The Playboy Club"), who donned a tight-fitting, light grey frock meant to hearken back to the Puritan era. (Though it's unlikely that the Puritans, known for being miserable killjoys who discouraged immodest dress, would have approved of the number.)
On Friday afternoon, the pilot's production crews created a dusting of snowfall at the historic cemetery with biodegradable flocking. Century-old headstones were joined by prop gravestones bearing the names of two of the story's witches, Freya, played by Dewan-Tatum, and the character's sister, Ingrid, played by Rachel Boston ("In Plain Sight").
The young women's mother and the family's matriarch, Joanna Beauchamp, will be played by actress Julia Ormond ("Mad Men"). Other cast members include Patrick Heusinger ("Gossip Girl"), Madchen Amick ("Twin Peaks") and Glenne Headly ("ER").
A scene in which a character is burnt at the stake also was expected to be filmed at the site on Friday, according to Wilmington film permits.
Earlier in the week, a New England market scene at the intersection of Water and Market streets featured local actress and theater producer Alisa Harris.
In the scene, Harris plays a motorist in a Mini Cooper who strikes a cat as it crosses the street.
Harris can't give away too much about the pilot's plot, she said, but the cat turns out to be not quite what it seems.
"I can't say much, but I can say that the script is really well written and fun and funny," she said. "The cast is also really spot-on. The cats did great – they only had to do a couple of takes."
Port City residents may spot the witches about town for a couple more weeks.
The production is expected to pop up at other local historic spots, such as St. James Parish, according to city film permits.
Cassie Foss: 343-2365
On Twitter: @WilmOnFilm