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Witches casting a spell over Hollywood

By Henry Hanks, CNN
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed October 9, 2013
According to reports, Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Sarah Paulson are set to return for the new season of "American Horror Story," which creator <a href='https://twitter.com/MrRPMurphy/status/448145257918513153' target='_blank'>Ryan Murphy tweeted</a> will be titled "American Horror Story: Freak Show." The four are fresh off the most recent season of "American Horror Story," in which they played powerful witches. Their performances put them on our list of celebrated witches in pop culture. According to reports, Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Sarah Paulson are set to return for the new season of "American Horror Story," which creator Ryan Murphy tweeted will be titled "American Horror Story: Freak Show." The four are fresh off the most recent season of "American Horror Story," in which they played powerful witches. Their performances put them on our list of celebrated witches in pop culture.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Witches seem to be the latest trend to take Hollywood by storm
  • "American Horror Story: Coven" set to debut just days after "Witches of East End"
  • Hollywood's new witches have more sex appeal than in years past

(CNN) -- Sorry, Edward Cullen. Catch you later, Damon Salvatore. And all of you Walkers can take a hike.

After several years of success with vampires, zombies and (to a lesser extent) werewolves, Hollywood now can't seem to get enough of witches.

Lifetime debuted its high-profile series "Witches of East End" on Sunday night, and tonight comes the premiere of the third season of "American Horror Story," also focusing on witchcraft, subtitled "Coven."

On the big screen this year, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz bewitched James Franco in the smash hit movie "Oz the Great and Powerful."

Even the CW's much-hyped "Vampire Diaries" spinoff, "The Originals," focuses on spell-casters in a big way.

And this is all taking place while there is a Halloween season surge in popularity for Disney's "Hocus Pocus," celebrating its 20th anniversary.

What's behind this interest in witchcraft on the big and small screens, right as we approach the 50th anniversary of "Bewitched," no less?

"Witchy women with magical mysterious powers suggest a wealth of storylines," said TV critic Ed Bark.

"And since 'Bewitched,' witches have seldom been entirely out of the TV mix. It also helps, of course, if you're a comely, voluptuous witch. Haggard Wicked Witches from the old-school 'Wizard of Oz' mold need not apply."

Bark recalled a line from "Witches of East End": "You only have one superpower, and it's your breasts."

Allison Keene of the Hollywood Reporter noted that Hollywood's modern witches all tend to be uniformly attractive as well.

"The current female witches on TV (there are no high-profile male wizards or warlocks, like a Harry Potter figure) are also really sexy," she said.

"So, maybe they're a kind of gendered response to the suave, seductive male vampire figure. Or maybe it's just cyclical, and all of the childhood fans of 'Hocus Pocus,' 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' and 'Charmed' are writing for TV now!"

Keene thinks it's a positive trend overall.

"Vampires, zombies and werewolves have all gotten so much attention lately, I think we're definitely reaching a saturation point," she said.

"The featured supernatural characters on those shows are usually men, too (not exclusively, but overwhelmingly). These new witch characters are giving women more power and agency to control their destinies, instead of just being objects of desire in need of saving, which is a nice change."

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