Amish go wild in new UPN reality show. ''Amish in the City'' will follow five teens on their wild-oats-sowing ''rumspringa'' rite of passage

By Gary Susman
January 16, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Around the time Fox was developing its ”Green Acres”-like ”The Simple Life,” CBS was hoping to do the opposite, create a ”Beverly Hillbillies”-like reality show that would let a poor rural family live the high life in Hollywood. That show got shelved after protests from farm-country activists that such a show would be patronizing. But now, CBS/UPN chief Les Moonves has found an alternative. The UPN show, tentatively called ”Amish in the City” and scheduled to air this summer, will follow five Amish teens on their real-life rite of ”rumspringa” (literally, ”running wild”), as they sow their wild oats in the outside world before deciding whether to commit themselves to the Amish church.

”This is not intended to be insulting to the Amish, but to have people who have never had television, who will walk down Rodeo Drive and be freaked out by what they see,” Moonves said at a press conference on Sunday. Asked why the network would exploit what for these teens is the most serious, life-changing decision of their young lives, Moonves said, ”Well, we couldn’t do ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,”’ the Washington Post reports. Besides, he said, ”The Amish don’t have as good a lobbying group.” And if these kids do anything truly humiliating, at least their families won’t be watching the show.