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PRACTICAL MAGIC

About The Production

Producer Di Novi has always been a fan of author Alice Hoffman's work. "The thing I love about Alice's books is that they deal with women thrust into situations that border on the magical or surreal," she explains. "What was captivating to me about 'Practical Magic' in particular was that it was not only a very real story emotionally, but it was also magical with other-worldly elements to it."

"Practical Magic" is the first novel by the best-selling Hoffman to be made into a motion picture. For Di Novi, it was a true labor of love. "It's my favorite book of Alice's," she comments.

"The story is about loss and about feeling different," explains Hoffman. "Sally and Gillian grow up feeling that they are outcasts in some way. The other kids avoid them, talk behind their backs, throw stones. That kind of ostracism is part of the reason for the problems they experience in their lives.''

The story also deals with the possible downside of love. Di Novi continues, "When Sally initially tries at love, she fails and is afraid to try again. The free-spirited Gillian is indiscriminate and is hurt by love-her relationship with Jimmy shows what happens when you come under a dark spell of someone and you lose yourself, giving away your own personal power."

When it came time for the producer to sign a director, she chose Griffin Dunne after seeing his work on "Duke of Groove" and "Addicted to Love"-a look at the foibles of the human heart. "I think Griffin is able to balance a lot of sensibilities," says the producer, "in terms of his ability to direct drama and very serious things. But he also has this very sophisticated and ironic sense of humor and I felt he would be able to hit all the right tones with this movie."

Director Griffin Dunne was enchanted by the script. "It was literally like a caldron," he explains. "Every emotion, theme and ingredient you could imagine was swirling around in it. I particularly liked the women's use of magic; it comes right from the title. It's about a more practical, almost holistic approach that seems like a gift that virtually anyone could have."

The producer found that, despite the richness of the history of magic, the 20th-century world still tends to classified it as part superstition, part claptrap. "Today, we think that there is a separation between real life and magic," says Di Novi. "But if you really analyze life, magical things happen every day. Why do you dream about things before they happen? How can you hear your baby crying from miles away? How do you know the instant someone close to you dies? Why do you fall in love at first sight? Those kinds of things are magical. Everyday life, everyone-they're magical even if we don't realize it."

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