.: 'Charmed' Could Use a Little Magic :.

By Kate O'Hare

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Tonight, Tuesday, April 19, the cast and crew of The WB's "Charmed" are having their wrap party. Throwing a pall over the event is the uncertainty over whether it's just a season-end celebration or the last time the whole "Charmed" family will be together.

Speaking a week ago during filming of the season-seven closer, "Something Wicca This Way Comes," airing Sunday, May 22, series star Alyssa Milano tells Zap2it.com, "To not have a definitive answer [about renewal] on the day we wrap, even at the wrap party, there's something very foreign about that. I don't feel disrespected. I feel like our fans are being disrespected.

"I understand the business. I've been in it for a long time, and I get it. I get that The WB is in a transitional phase. Logically, I get it, but I don't get disrespecting the fans to not give them what they deserve for hanging in for seven years, because that's going to lose The WB more audience.
"I wish, at the wrap party, that we would know so that we could hold each other a little longer." Co-star Holly Marie Combs agrees, saying, "We won't know how to feel. At the party, it's going to be horrible, because you're not going to know if you're saying goodbye for just a couple months, or is it for forever? I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I am not pleased. After this amount of time on a network, we deserve better."

For seven seasons, "Charmed" has told the story of good-witch San Francisco sisters -- the late Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Combs), Phoebe (Milano) and Paige (Rose McGowan) -- who battle demonic evil as the magical Charmed Ones.

The show has been a steady performer for The WB, despite airing on several different nights. It's faced tough competition this year on Sundays from ABC's breakout hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and CBS well-regarded "Cold Case" -- and, to a lesser degree, from one of Combs' favorite shows, NBC's "The Contender" -- and The WB is no doubt wondering if it could do better with another show in that slot.

Either way, the decision has to come by mid-May, when the network announces its fall schedule to advertisers.

The recent 150th episode, which featured the return of former regular Julian McMahon, as the half-demon Cole, caused a spike in the ratings, but as he's now the star of "Nip/Tuck," he can't be counted on to return. The question is, will those extra fans stick around the rest of the year?

Series executive producer Brad Kern says, "The network loves 'Charmed' creatively and have been especially happy with it this season, but whether we come back or not still all boils down to ratings -- which means it's up to the fans.

"If they all tune in and watch the last couple episodes, I believe that'll raise our numbers enough to push us over the edge and force The WB to pick us up for an 8th season."

"I'm always optimistic," says Brian Krause, who plays Piper's husband, Leo. "They'd have to be really silly not to bring us back."

Combs, whose character became the eldest sister and de facto family leader after Doherty left the show, is a bit more blunt than her TV spouse.

"I think they're torturing us on purpose," she says. "If this was our final season, things would have been a lot different. We would have been able to do a more spectacular series finale, as opposed to a more ambiguous season finale. So it's really not fair to our fans."

Asked if the season closer will satisfy fans, Combs says, "I think everybody will be disappointed. We'll be disappointed. We're all like a gaggle of bandits in denial. We're just going to go about our business, pack up our trailers and leave them where they're parked, and hopefully we'll have something to come back to."

In the past, fans have inundated networks with tokens expressing their devotion to a show, whether it's bottles of Tabasco sauce for "Roswell" or chocolate bars for "Angel." Combs ponders what "Charmed" fans might want to send to network executives.

"Hmmm," she says, "we've never really had a food product. They make me serve a lot of tea, I'll tell you that."

She calls on McGowan, whom she says has "the most random mind."

"Candles are good," McGowan says. "You can get all your pentagram necklaces and send them in, or crystals."

"Crystals are good," Combs says. "Don't send any cats."

"This finale," McGowan says, "it made me pretty sad to read it. I call this being in the hallway, and I find that an atrocious way to live, period. I feel like I'm stuck out in some hallway with all the doors closed, and I'm just pacing up and down, waiting for the frickin' door to open."

Although Combs and Milano have worked on series before, this is McGowan's first.

"This is more time concentrated with these people than I have spent with my family in my entire life," she says. "I have a lot of brothers and sisters, but we've never lived in the same place. The thing that was hardest for me to get used to is conversely the thing that I've become very attached to.

"That's made me very sad. It's actually destabilizing for me, so this is therapy now."

At this point, Combs turns defiant. "I'm not packing up my trailer. They better call a tow truck, because I've got the keys, and it ain't moving. They can't get her trailer out unless my bus moves, and the bus ain't moving.

"I say to fans call 411 and ask for [WB entertainment chief] David Janollari. Call his office at The WB. Tell him I sent you."