[07/08/04 - 12:00 AM]
'Amish,' 'Player' to Hit UPN's Summer Schedule
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Amish are officially in business at UPN as the network has revealed production has been completed on its controversial new series "Amish in the City."

The project, which quickly drew criticism after being announced in January (read the story), will premiere with back-to-back episodes on Wednesday, July 28 at 8:00/7:00c. New episodes will then air regularly on Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c.

Steven Cantor and Daniel Laikind, the duo behind the acclaimed Amish documentary "Devil's Playground," are the executive producers of the New Line Television project, which tracks five Amish youths as they room with six non-Amish teens in a Hollywood Hills home. The quintet's participation is rooted in the Amish coming-of-age ritual known as "rumspringa," which gives young men and women permission to explore the outside world in order to ultimately decide if they will commit to the Amish church. According to published statistics, between 85 to 90 percent of the teens that participate in rumspringa do decide to return to the Amish life.

The producers stress that there's no competition or prize involved in the series as it simply documents the two group's interactions. Critics of the series nevertheless say it degrades the Amish church and lifestyle.

An official press release confirming the news was released this afternoon:


AMISH IN THE CITY, UPN's new reality series, will provide a unique look into the Amish journey of discovery, known as rumspringa, through a group of young adults who have left their spiritually devout, rural communities to experience life in the big city, with six roommates from various metropolitan areas. The series premieres with a special two-hour episode, Wednesday, July 28 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on UPN.

Said Dawn Ostroff, President, Entertainment, UPN: "We�re proud to present this series, which is very different than any of its reality predecessors. Foremost in our minds as we went forward was to treat with the highest respect the young Amish people who were entering a world they had never before experienced. In working with our producers, two of whom produced �The Devil's Playground,� a film that touched on many of these same issues, we believe we have succeeded in developing a program that is both serious and entertaining, and ultimately very thought provoking."

AMISH IN THE CITY will follow the stories of five Amish young adults (three men, two women) and their six roommates from diverse backgrounds (three men, three women) as they come to Los Angeles and learn to live with each other in an ultra-modern Hollywood Hills home. This one-hour weekly series chronicles how relationships develop and viewpoints collide in a house shared by young people from very different cultures, while also introducing viewers to the intensely personal Amish coming-of-age experience, called rumspringa (a Pennsylvania Dutch word loosely translated as "running wild"). During this religious rite of passage, young Amish men and women are allowed to leave their homes to explore the outside world, until they decide whether or not they want to join the Amish church and be welcomed back into their families or stay in the outside world.

From moments serious and significant to lighter and trivial, cameras catch everything as the Amish journey outside their quiet rural areas and are gradually introduced to both the delights and challenges of modern metropolitan life. At the same time, the Amish kids give their city counterparts insight into their beliefs, values and a lifestyle dedicated to faith, modesty and unadorned means.

The city roommates include a handsome swim teacher, a fashion-forward party girl, a colorful club promoter, a busboy/musician, an inner-city student, and a strict vegan. While these six people are surprised to learn they will live with the Amish, the entire group soon share a California adventure, complete with wide-ranging daily activities meant to be fun, unexpected and enlightening for everyone in the house. Some of these excursions include a first-time visit to the ocean for the Amish, working with the mentally disabled, a helicopter trip to a resort island and walking the red carpet at a Hollywood movie premiere.

AMISH IN THE CITY will regularly air on Wednesday (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT).

The executive producers are Jon Kroll ("Amazing Race," "Big Brother"), Steven Cantor ("Devil's Playground," "Family Bonds") and Daniel Laikind ("Devil's Playground," "Family Bonds"). AMISH IN THE CITY is a production of New Line Television in association with Stick Figure Productions.

Meanwhile, "The Player," the network's less clandestine summer project, is also expected to receive a premiere date in the next few days. Industry insiders say the series, which tests a group of ethnically diverse young singles on their dating skills, will air on Tuesdays at 9:00/8:00c beginning in early August.

This article was updated with additional information on Thursday, July 8.

  [july 2004]  


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