Friday, May 1, 2009

PaleyFest 2009

I have consistently attended the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Radio and Television) festival. In its 26th year, the PaleyFest annually celebrates achievements in television series that have aired during the past season. I was able to attend four of the 14 nights (and would have gone to more, but the tickets are $40 each.) The festival was held this year at the Arclight Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and the venue proved to be a perfect way for the cast and creators of the shows to interact with their fans.


“True Blood”—On April 13, this HBO vampire series was honored. The creator and executive producer Alan Ball (“Six Feet Under,” “American Beauty”) was on hand to tell the audience about his vision for the show and how the next season will play out. Many members of the cast were there, including Anna Paquin (who plays telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (her vampire love Bill), and Nelsan Ellis (who appears on the show as the deliciously campy Lafayette.) The series is a fascinating mix of fantasy and romance, and should be the reason, aside from “Twilight,” that the public has a renewed interest in vampires. The PaleyFest attendees were treated to a sneak peek of a new series episode that won’t air until June.


“Big Love”—April 22 marked the celebration of another impressive HBO series. The polygamy drama, centered around Bill Paxton’s Mormon family man and his three wives, has garnered rave reviews over its previous three seasons. However, it was the past few episodes of this show that earned complete respect from its audience—the writers have packed so much into each episode that they revealed their storyboarded plotlines through season six have all been used up. Although Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays na├»ve wife Margene, was unable to attend the festival, the rest of the cast was represented. The standout entertainer was Jeanne Tripplehorn, who stars as first wife Barb (and also just appeared in HBO’s “Grey Gardens” as Jackie O.) Although her character is formal and stoic, Tripplehorn seems to be the funny lady of the cast, continually making the audience laugh at her quips. It was fun to see a cast that truly gets along with one another. Harry Dean Stanton plays Roman Grant on the show, and appeared to be a little nutty at the festival—he was constantly misunderstanding questions and yelling out mixed up answers. However, his antics only made the night more unpredictably fun.


“Fringe”—This FOX sci-fi show has gotten grief for not having a bigger audience, but its fans are truly devoted. J.J. Abrams, the creator of the show, has had an illustrious career so far, with shows like “Lost,” “Felicity” and “Alias.” It was interesting to hear the inspiration behind the show. The cast was also present, including Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble. The best part of the night was when audience members were allowed to ask questions of the cast and creative team. The questions ranged from curiosity about the mythology behind the show to queries about character arcs in the upcoming season.


Each year the festival outdoes previous events by showcasing amazing talent both in front of the camera and behind the scenes…2009 was no exception.