The column I wrote expressing my opinion of the casting for the upcoming Dark Shadows movie elicited several email responses, two of which were especially intriguing.

Imagine my surprise and distinct pleasure when Kathryn Leigh Scott, the lovely actress who portrayed Josette DuPres in the Dark Shadows series, thanked me for the column and sent me an autographed galley copy of her upcoming book, Dark Passages. I was definitely awe-struck and grateful, and am currently enjoying the book.

But I digress.

The other intriguing email I received came from “Michael,” an Atlantic Highlands Herald reader who took issue with my criticism of Michelle Pfeiffer assuming the role of Collins family matriarch Elizabeth Stoddard. In my column of May 25th, I stated, “Depp is a consummate actor, but not my image of Barnabas, ditto for Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Stoddard. Since when is Michelle Pfeiffer a matriarch character? She would be better cast as Angelique…” Michael responded: “I question your assessment of Michelle Pfeiffer’s involvement. If I may be so bold, I think that as a contemporary of hers, you are projecting your own issues onto her casting as matriarch Elizabeth Stoddard. Pfeiffer is only three years younger than Joan Bennett when she assumed the role. The character is a woman in her fifties and the mother of a teenage girl. That’s why Pfeiffer was cast. She’s much too old to be cast as vixen Angelique.”

Point well taken! Thanks to Michael, I realize I reacted to director Tim Burton’s casting through the eyes of the little girl I once was when I rushed home to watch Dark Shadows after school. That little girl thought Elizabeth Stoddard was an old lady; the fact that Joan Bennett at that time was only three years older than Pfeiffer is now was quite an eye-opener for me. Kudos to Michael for setting me straight!

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However, upon reading Michael’s email a second time, my eyes really flew open. “As a contemporary of hers (Pfeiffer’s), you are projecting your own issues onto her casting…” Say what? I’m a contemporary of Michelle Pfeiffer? Me? I suppose I should be flattered to be considered as such, but I’m not too tickled to be tossed into the over-fifty pool. I joke a lot about being middle aged, but I don’t truly think of myself that way. Thus, Michael’s statement was startling news to me!

Am I Michelle Pfeiffer’s contemporary? Uh…gee…I dunno. Let me think for a minute. She’s over fifty, for heaven’s sake, so what does that make me? What exactly are the signs of middle age anyway? Declining eye-sight? Expanding waistline? A propensity for comfort rather than trendy fashion? Such things do not apply to me!

Ooops! Back up a minute! I recently asked my husband why the groundhog on my neighbor’s lawn wasn’t moving. Upon closer examination, I discovered the groundhog was actually a tree stump. I have several pair of pants, including jeans, with elastic waistlines, and I  admit to yielding to the “what for?!” attitude when deciding whether to put makeup on in the morning. I’d rather sit on the sofa sipping tea and watching America’s Got Talent than partying somewhere. My bones sometimes creak; I stubbed my toe very, very slightly but it broke anyway. I don’t like to eat dinner beyond 5:00 pm and I can’t stand Justin Bieber’s haircut (hey, at least I know who Justin Bieber is!)

The verdict is in. Michael was right on all accounts. Michelle Pfeiffer is well cast as matriarch Elizabeth Stoddard in the upcoming Dark Shadows movie, and alas, yours truly is Ms. Pfeiffer’s aging contemporary.

Hmm…not sure I’m happy about that…oh, what the heck! You can’t keep us matriarchs down! I’m going to sip my tea and happily read Dark Passages until America’s Got Talent comes on.

By the way, if you are a Kathryn Leigh Scott/Dark Shadows fan, you can get your own copy of Dark Passages along with an autographed bookmark if you pre-order at

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Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...