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Originally published September 10, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Page modified September 15, 2011 at 1:29 PM

'The Secret Circle' looks for magic in Washington setting

The CW's upcoming TV show "The Secret Circle," which focuses on a coven of witches, is set in the fictional town of Chance Harbor, Wash. — but filmed in Vancouver, B.C.

Special to The Seattle Times

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'The Secret Circle'

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The Pacific Northwest is already fertile ground for Hollywood stories starring big-haired vampires and ab-tastic werewolves. We might be nearing the twilight of the hottie-creatures-of-the-night trend in American popular culture, but why not add some witches to the mix?

Seems to be working for HBO's "True Blood," and on Thursday, The CW will debut its latest supernatural drama, "The Secret Circle," from executive producer Kevin Williamson ("The Vampire Diaries"). Just as "Diaries" was based on a young-adult book series by L.J. Smith, so is "The Secret Circle," where the focus shifts to a coven of witches.

For the TV show, producers moved the setting from New England to fictional Chance Harbor, Wash. Williamson said the change was made for several reasons, including logic.

"In the book, they left Salem, Mass., to escape persecution, and where did they go? A town that became New Salem," Williamson said, chuckling. "They didn't hide very well, did they?"

An early network note suggested moving New Salem to New Hampshire, Williamson said, but as producers began scouting East Coast locations, they found Vancouver, B.C., offered a better financial deal for production.

"I personally love little coastal towns because of my upbringing," said Williamson, who grew up on the North Carolina coast and went on to create "Dawson's Creek." "Not that I was trying to repeat anything, but it made sense financially, it made sense visually. ... Now I have a show that will look completely different from 'Vampire Diaries.' "

"The Secret Circle's" setting brings to mind the "Twilight" films, which also are largely produced in and around Vancouver — something producers are aware of and don't seem to mind.

"The woods are familiar for a lot of shows up there," Williamson said, "a lot of big vampire movies."

"The Secret Circle" follows Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson, "Life Unexpected"), who moves to Chance Harbor to live with her grandmother (Ashley Crow, "Heroes") after her mother's mysterious death.

Once there she meets a clique of Mean Girls and a Boy Next Door (Thomas Dekker, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"), all descended from a long line of witches. It turns out Cassie is a witch, too, and the missing link in a Secret Circle of next-generation witches.

"Secret Circle" executive producer Andrew Miller said he's driven through Washington, and he imagines Chance Harbor is located somewhere north of Seattle.

"In our show, the magic is so grounded in the elements, and the idea is they can become part of the flow from the energy of various things," Miller said. "It just feels like that environment lends itself so well to that."

Miller said the name of the town, Chance Harbor, came from the notion of Cassie getting a second chance in a new place coupled with the idea that the town's founders were seeking a "harbor" after their exile from Salem.

"In later episodes, we're trying to take a little more of the Washington state culture and incorporate it into the show," Miller said. "There's a mythology aspect to it. The idea is the founding fathers of this town would have come from Salem, and on that journey we think they may have run into different natives and tribes and various people along the way that would inform their magic and who they are now in Chance Harbor."

Williamson said the Pacific Northwest's rapidly changing weather makes it an ideal location for a show about a town full of witches, who, in the premiere episode, conjure a thunder and lightning storm, manipulate water and spark fires.

"One minute you're looking at the most beautiful vista in the world, and the next minute it's pouring down rain and it's just wet and dangerous, dark, gloomy and dreary, so the color palette to me is something that lends itself to witches," Williamson said. "I think of the elements, and I think of water and fire and I think of rain, and I'm more in the zone in the Northwest."

RobOwenTV@gmail.com or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV.




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