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Tribeca Film Festival to Start Standalone TV Gathering


Eric McCormack and Megan Mullally at a recent “Will & Grace” panel.

Willy Sanjuan/Invision, via Associated Press

Over the past few years the Tribeca Film Festival has strayed from its titular mission further into television, with events focused on cultural lightning rods like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Girls.” Now the team behind the festival is creating a separate event devoted solely to television, to be called (naturally) the Tribeca TV Festival.

The festival, to be held for three days beginning Sept. 22, will feature premiere screenings, previews and panel appearances from the likes of Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K., Amy Sedaris and the cast of “Will & Grace.”

“The best audience experiences in the world are happening on smaller screens. If anything, audiences are becoming screen agnostic,” Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and executive chair of the Tribeca festivals, said in an interview.

On Sept. 23, the festival will bring together the four stars of NBC’s “Will & Grace”—Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally—for a conversation before the series returns on Sept. 28 after an 11-year absence. On Sept. 22, Pamela Adlon will discuss the second season of the FX show “Better Things”—which returns Sept. 14—with her co-creator, Louis C.K.

Audiences will also get to watch world premieres of TruTV’s “At Home with Amy Sedaris” and ABC’s “Ten Days in the Valley,” starring Kyra Sedgwick, and yet-to-be aired episodes of Fox’s “Gotham,” OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” ABC’s “Designated Survivor” and more. All events will take place at the Cinépolis Chelsea, which serves as the main venue for the Tribeca Film Festival.

“Television audiences are maybe underserved in that way: there aren’t a lot of venues for them to come together and celebrate their fandom,” Cara Cusumano, the festival’s director of programming, said. “It felt like a logical extension from what we do already, which is bringing people together around storytelling.”

While the festival will be much smaller than the main Tribeca festival in the spring, organizers hope to expand in future years. But the TV offshoot will compete with a rapidly expanding festival circuit centered on television. In Austin, the ATX Television Festival has established itself as a major player. The Split Screens Festival made its debut this year in New York, featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rami Malek, and the New York Television Festival will have its 13th edition this October. Meanwhile, broader umbrella festivals like the Vulture Festival, Comic Con and The New Yorker festival continue to skew toward the small screen.

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