WLYH Plans to Pre-Empt Amish


UPN affiliate WLYH Lancaster, Pa., plans to pre-empt the July 28 airing of controversial reality show Amish in the City and screen it the next day for community leaders.

UPN made the decision easier with its planned airing of a repeat of the premiere the following Friday.

GM Matt Uhl said he had not heard back from UPN on his request for a screener copy. UPN was planning to screen the show for TV critics in Los Angeles Tuesday. Uhl said he asked if he could go out there and see it, but the network said no.

That leaves Uhl to ponder a series description form UPN that sounds fairly tame as well as the DVD case for Devil's Playground, a documentary cited by UPN as one of the show producer's credits, which depicts a bonneted Amish girl with a beer in one hand and being groped from behind by a boy.

After the Thursday screening and input from participants, Uhl says he will decide whether or not to air the show. If he decides to air it, he will simply make UPN's planned Friday 8-10 re-airing of the two-hour premiere his first showing. If he decides against it, he will air movies Wednesday and Friday night (July 28 and 30) and fill the series regular hour slot on Wednesday nights at 8-9 with re-airings of Stargate.

If UPN does come up with the screener, Uhl will  run it by his panel July 27. Uhl says there will be no politicians on the panel. "The mayor of Lancaster had suggested himself and an Amish bishop," says Uhl, "but I decided against it." He points out that among the educators are one who wrote a book on the Amish and another who produced a documentary on the religion. "I think inviting educators is perfect," says Uhl. "Politicians have an agenda, educators don't."

Uhl says that, somewhat to his surprise, he has gotten little flack from advertisers over the series. Only one has pulled out of the show, he says, the local Dodge dealer.

UPN has repeatedly said the series will not exploit the Amish youth or their ritual of "rumspringa," in which they leave the community, then decide which world they want to live in.