N.Y. TV Festival Launch Nears

Sep 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The organizer of the inaugural New York Television Festival hopes to do for TV storytellers what the Sundance Film Festival has done for independent filmmakers: spotlight their best work and most innovative efforts while exposing them to buyers and development executives looking for new talent and fresh content.

The six-day event, which kicks off Sept. 28, is the long-nurtured brainchild of the festival’s executive director and chairman, Terence Gray, a writer (“The Man Show,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”), producer and developer who in 1994 began staging original sitcoms off-off-Broadway.

Mr. Gray is hoping to help secure sales of “as many of the pilots as possible,” he said. To get the affair off the ground he has just kept plugging away, receiving some help from broadcast and cable executives and from his representatives at the William Morris Agency.

The festival on Oct. 1 will screen an episode of Fox’s critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged comedy “Arrested Development” as an example of the innovative programming it hopes to champion.

In addition, about 230 pilots, submitted from a number of countries, have been pared down to the 29 that will be screened in small clusters at branded sites designed to evoke the intimacy of watching TV at home, Mr. Gray said. Pilots representing the comedy, drama, reality, documentary, animation and student categories all are on tap.

While the schedule is still being fine-tuned, activities scheduled for Sept. 29 and 30 include screenings and panel discussions for and by members of the TV industry. Some broader sessions, open casting calls, interactive events and weekend screenings will be open to the public.

The festival’s sponsors include TV Guide; NBC Universal; Fox Broadcasting; MTV Networks’ Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1 and VH1 Classic; and A&E Networks and Rainbow Networks’ AMC, IFC and WE channels.

Mr. Gray said he aims to turn a profit and to start a festival foundation. He has been working out of office space supplied by William Morris.

Information about industry passes and packages can be found at newyorktelevisionfestival.com.