TV Comedy Highlights Vermont Farm Life

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(Host) A Vermont film crew has been spending the summer on the farm – hoping to raise some laughs.

As VPR’s Steve Zind reports, they’re working on a new situation comedy that’s an attempt to take a fresh approach on a familiar theme.

(Zind) There have been days this summer when you can’t get there from here on the West Barnet Road.

“Quiet on the set! Lock it down. Roll sound. Roll cameras…”

(Zind) The quiet of this hilltop farm has been displaced by the bustle of a film crew on location for a new television comedy called Windy Acres.

Unlike the Bob Newhart show from the 1980s, which was set in Vermont but shot in Hollywood, Windy Acres is a homegrown effort. It’s produced by Barnet’s Kingdom County Productions, directed by Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven and stars Stowe’s Rusty DeWees. Many in the young crew are Craven’s students from his film class at Marlboro College.

The storyline goes like this: a citified flatlander moves from New York City to Vermont with her two children. She expects postcard vistas but ends up with a view of a couple of old pickup trucks in the dooryard. New York actress Seana Kofoed plays Stephanie, the flatlander. Kofoed says her impressions of Vermont before coming here for filming are not that different from her character’s.

(Kofed) “I couldn’t be an easier fit really. Calling the production office to see if I could bring my laptop, if there was cell phone service. Getting off the plane with my yoga mat.”

(Zind) Kofoed’s character gets involved in an unlikely romance with DeWee’s character – a farmer named Lucian LaFlamme.

(Kofed) “Oh he’s got his gals everywhere. Nothing’s ever worked. His clock is ticking. So, here comes this New Yorker. He’s been with Holsteins, and now here’s a Jersey.”

(Zind) DeWees says his character is different from the popular stage persona he’s created as The Logger. In this role, he’s going for someone who’s funny but a little more real.

Craven says the real life element is what he’s looking for in Windy Acres. He wants the characters to be funny but three-dimensional, and the humor closer to Seinfeld than Green Acres. Craven says it’s a challenge to create a contemporary comedy set in Vermont.

(Craven) “What we associate with Vermont comedy or Vermont humor tends to be humor that is 50 or 60 years old in many cases. So the idea of trying to deal in a contemporary setting and try to push some new vernacular in comedy is daunting.”

(Zind) Windy Acres is scheduled to wrap up shooting this week and air this fall on Vermont Public Television. Producers hope other public stations in New England will pick it up and pave the way for more episodes of Windy Acres.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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