The New York Television Festival Turns Five

nytvf logoFour years ago I wrote my first feature for the New York Times (“Small-Screen Sundance”), about an ambitious new event called the New York Television Festival. Founder Terence Gray and his associates wanted to do for independent television what festivals like Sundance had done for independent film, by exposing new and exciting works into the marketplace that might not otherwise get screened. Since the fall of 2005, the annual, week-long event has incorporated series premieres, industry panels and screenings of undiscovered pilots, along with an awards ceremony at week’s end. NYTVF has united aspiring television directors and producers with industry insiders, helped get a few pilots sold to networks and cable channels and has been a springboard for various talent to find opportunities in the world of television.

Modern Family co-stars Ty Burrell (l) and Julie Bowen (r) work the red carpet at last night's party.

Modern Family co-stars Ty Burrell (l) and Julie Bowen (r)
work the red carpet before last night's party.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

This year, the festival’s fifth annual opening night event at the Times Center in Manhattan spotlighted the premieres of two new ABC comedies, Modern Family and Cougar Town, just prior to their national airings, which were followed by an upbeat panel with actors Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Busy Philipps, moderated by Entertainment Weekly staff writer Tim Stack. And, of course, there was the after-party where festival attendees got to mix and mingle. It’s probably a novel concept for many members of the public to watch TV shows on a large screen, and every year it’s always interesting to see how they respond, particularly to the comedies. Modern Family went over well with the large crowd last night and elicited plenty of laughter, and Cougar Town got a decent response and offered a few zingers. Tomorrow night features a fan screening for the pilot of ABC’s Flash Forward, an epic new drama that is highly apropos for a larger screening format.

Busy Phillips flashes us a smile.

Busy Philipps flashes us a smile from Cougar Town.
Even though she's not a cougar.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

NYTVF 2009 runs through Saturday night and will include panel appearances from Late Show With David Letterman co-head writers Justin and Eric Stangel and SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis (on Tuesday night), The Cleveland Show star Mike Henry, cast members Reagen Gomez and Kevin Michael Richardson and executive producer Rich Appel (Thursday night), 30 Rock writer-producers Matt Hubbard (fresh from his Emmy win) and Kay Cannon (Saturday at noon) and keynote speaker and Battlestar Galactica/Caprica creator/writer Ronald D. Moore (Saturday at 6 PM). Check the NYTVF schedule of events for all the details. There’s plenty for TV buffs to absorb.

ADD attended the opening night festivities and nabbed interviews with Bowen, Burrell and Philipps on the red carpet (Q&As are forthcoming), sat in on the show premieres and panel and then journeyed down to the after-party. Following are more pictures from the event.

NYTVF Chairma Terence Gray (l) gives us his best Bond smirk, while CBS Watch deputy editor/Sirius Radio correspondent Jim Colucci (r) ponders whether he wants to be Q or M.

NYTVF Chairman and Executive Director Terence Gray (l)
shoots us his best 007 smirk, while CBS' Watch! magazine
deputy editor Jim Colucci (r) ponders whether
he wants to be Q or M.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

NYVTF's Eben Russell.

NYTVF's Director of Communications Eben Russell contemplates
the meaning of the modern family. Or perhaps the latest
trivia questions he's been cooking up
for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Busy Phillips (l to r) offer lively panel discussion.

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Busy Philipps (l to r)
offer a lively panel discussion.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Post-pilot discussion, the non-zoom lens version.

Post-pilot discussion, the wide angle version.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

NYTVF's Brent Burnett (r) with friends.

NYTVF's Director of Programming Brent Burnette (r) with friends.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

"Around The Block" executive producer Bayou Bennett (l) and writer/director/producer Daniel Lir (r).

Around The Block executive producer Bayou Bennett (l)
and writer/director/producer Daniel Lir (r). Their pilot
stars Lea Michele of Fox's new hit series Glee.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

TV party people.

TV party people.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

TV party people - a new angle.

TV party people - a new angle.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

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