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Series follows 'Fabulous' couple that bought the farm

NEW YORK - At first glance, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" would seem to feature the least likely agrarians since Oliver and Lisa took up farming on "Green Acres."

NEW YORK - At first glance, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" would seem to feature the least likely agrarians since Oliver and Lisa took up farming on "Green Acres."

And these "boys" aren't sitcom characters. They're real-life transplanted Manhattan urbanites who, somewhat on a whim, bought a two-century-old manor named Beekman Mansion and the farm that went with it, then began a crash course in country living.

The result is on display in a docu-reality series premiering at 9 p.m. Wednesday on Planet Green. It's by turns funny, instructive, even inspirational. (These guys just don't quit!) And befitting its co-stars, it's also fabulous.

The self-proclaimed Beekman Boys consist of Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, partners for a decade who boast diverse and downright colorful backgrounds.

Ridge has been an assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and was vice president of healthy living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Kilmer-Purcell is a professional drag queen turned advertising exec, and a successful author whose just-published third book, "The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir" (Harper, $24.99), serves as an unintended prequel to their TV series by recounting how he and Ridge took the plunge into their rural lifestyle.

The charm of "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" comes in part from witnessing their steep learning curve as they confront a slew of farm chores wildly alien to their past experience. Meanwhile, they strike a colorful contrast (and the occasional sparks) in how they navigate their new challenges.

For example, Ridge, who tends the farm full time, wants it tidier than some people keep their studio apartment. (In his view, even a pig sty shouldn't be a pig sty.)

Kilmer-Purcell is more laid-back, especially since he arrives at the farm each Friday after toiling in Manhattan at his ad-agency job to guarantee them a regular paycheck.

"It's tough," he sighs, after one outburst of his partner's lofty demands. "I have a dream, and then you take it and you turn it into this whole production."

Serving as their on-site authority is "Farmer John" Hall, a lifelong resident of their tiny village of Sharon Springs, N.Y., whose reigning passion is his herd of goats.

Besides growing provisions for their own use, the Beekman Boys have created an organic lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802, with a product line that includes goat-milk soap and a goat-milk cheese covered with hardwood ash.

For this couple, the adventure began in 2007 when they bought the farm. But the seed was planted for the TV series a year ago when Kilmer-Purcell met Laura Michalchyshyn, boss of Planet Green (as well as Discovery Health and FitTV).

"He started talking about the farm," Michalchyshyn recalled recently. "He said, 'We may fail, we may succeed, but we really want to give this a try.' "

Intrigued, she arranged to meet Ridge a week later.

"I said, 'You guys ever thought of doing a TV show?' And they looked at me and said, 'No one has asked us.' "

She asked.

Shooting started last July.

"We're always game for new experiences," Ridge said about their TV venture. "We thought, 'We might as well shoot a sizzle reel, since the odds that the series makes it to TV are really minuscule. It would make a great video scrapbook.' "

Of course, the series is going to make it to the air, with story lines focusing on whether they can keep their heads above water while keeping their relationship intact amid their many pressures.

"We almost lost the farm in 2008 when the bubble burst," Kilmer-Purcell said.

"But we're very devoted to our community," Ridge chimed in, "and we always said if our company is successful, it will only be successful if other members of our community are successful as well."

"Our main passion with the TV show," Kilmer-Purcell said, "is exposing small farming, small communities and what it means to be neighborly back to the rest of America."

The series also reveals a new direction for Planet Green, said Michalchyshyn.

"We're evolving the channel: What does it mean to consider sustainability, what does it mean to be part of something bigger? There's been a lot of greenwashing, eco-fatigue and an economy tanking. That can lead to a lecturing stance: 'We've been bad. Now we have to pay for our bad behavior.' That doesn't make good television. Good stories do."

The saga of the "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" offers an example of everyday people who are making a challenging, potentially restorative change in their lives, she said.

"What we're saying is, 'It's not about being green. It's about being better.' "