The newest celebrity sighting in Roxbury, NY: a rat!

Roxbury RatRoxbury, NY might just be one of the most ‘happening-est’ hamlets in New York state. Narrow county roads leisurely wind through the renowned Catskill mountains traveling down from Albany or up from NYC.

The first time I visited was while shooting a feature story with CBS-affiliate WRGB, reporter Dan DiNicola. Bless his soul, DiNicola discovered a vintage baseball team that played traditional ball like it was played in 1898. We videotaped the “Roxbury Nine” at the beautiful Kirkside park. The boys caught pop flies and grounders with bare hands and only the catcher was allowed to use a poorly-padded mitt.

The second discovery was watching Animal Planet. A popular series called “Tanked” invited the show hosts to a fun and funky motel to install an Egyptian-style aquarium in one of the guest rooms. The Roxbury Motel has been dubbed “cool design,” “whimsical elegance” and “decadently over-the-top” for rooms decorated with a theme inspired by a famous TV series, film or cartoon of the 1960’s or 70’s. Someday, I’d love to spend the night in a suite inspired by Austin Powers: a ‘shagadelic’ yellow-and-orange checked floor, zebra-patterned sofa and metallic table and chairs.

And, yesterday, my third visit in Roxbury, was while shooting an episode of “Unlikely Animal Friends” for Nat Geo at a local farmhouse. A NYC Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator shared a heart-warming story about his adorable pet rat Olivia. Chris Durham is also a writer, artist and successful actor who divides his time between his city digs of Manhattan and his cozy upstate crash pad. No, he did not purposely befriend a rodent because he missed the subway system. I can’t divulge details until the show airs in early 2015 but be aware of the local connection when you see it.

When we arrived, the double french doors of Durham’s cottage were thrown open revealing a hillside ablaze in the peak colors. A trickling stream ran quietly through the property. It was like the perfect postcard setting for a movie.

Like Durham, other celebrity personalities have also found the peaceful and charming Roxbury close enough from the city to escape to on weekends. Past and present residents include playwright Arthur Miller, actor Walter Matthau, playwright Tom Cole and sculptor Alexander Calder. Actors Alan Cumming and Dustin Hoffman, musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, soap opera actress Elizabeth Hubbard and, I’m sure, many, many more are current residents. But, unlike them, it’s Olivia, the cheeky rat, that’s the big star due to make her television premiere sometime in January.