Arts & Entertainment

PaleyFest LA: TV fans converge to bathe in their favorite shows' glow

"Scandal's" Darby Stanchfield with fans at PaleyFest L.A. 2016 honoring Scandal, presented by The Paley Center for Media, at the Dolby Theatre on March 15, 2016 in Hollywood.
Courtesy of The Paley Center for Media
Kathy Bates, Michael Chiklis and Sarah Paulson attend The Paley Center for Media's 32nd annual PaleyFest L.A. "American Horror Story: Freak Show" at Dolby Theatre on March 15, 2015 in Hollywood.
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Cast and creatives of "Scandal" at PaleyFest L.A. 2016 at the Dolby Theatre on March 15, 2016 in Hollywood.
Courtesy of The Paley Center for Media
Actress Gina Rodriguez attends The Paley Center For Media's 32nd Annual PaleyFest L.A. "Jane The Virgin" screening at the Dolby Theatre on March 15, 2015 in Hollywood.
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(L-R) Executive producer Bill Prady, actors Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, and Kaley Cuoco attend The Paley Center For Media's 33rd Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles "The Big Bang Theory" at Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2016 in Hollywood.
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Actors Lea Michele and Chris Colfer on stage at The Paley Center For Media's 32nd Annual PaleyFest L.A. — "Glee" at Dolby Theatre on March 13, 2015 in Hollywood
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Actor Milo Ventimiglia attends The screening of NBC "This Is Us" at The Tenth Annual PaleyFest Fall TV Previews presented by The Paley Center For Media, in Beverly Hills on Sept. 13, 2016.
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Actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan attend The Paley Center for Media's 32nd Annual PaleyFest L.A. "Outlander" at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2015 in Hollywood.
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Moderator Tim Stack with the cast and creatives of "American Horror Story: Hotel" at PaleyFest L.A. 2016 at the Dolby Theatre on March 20, 2016 in Hollywood.
Courtesy of The Paley Center for Media

PaleyFest L.A., a chance to get up close with the creators and stars of your favorite shows, kicks off Friday night as hordes of TV fans descend on Hollywood's Dolby Theatre for a "The Walking Dead" screening and panel. (Don't get the fans confused with the zombies.) Over the course of 10 days, the festival, presented by the Paley Center, does one to two panels most days featuring the creative talent from a wide variety of TV shows.

This is the 34th year of PaleyFest. It started long before the current golden era of peak TV, when the previously New York-based organization (then the Museum of Television and Radio) wanted to put on a West Coast event celebrating TV.

"They put together the TV festival at a time when television was looked at as sort of a second-class artform. Film had great festivals, but PaleyFest was really the first time that a festival honoring great TV was put together," PaleyFest director Rene Reyes told KPCC.

PaleyFest L.A. highlights

Highlights to watch for this year, according to the festival's director:

"Two years ago he hosted our panel with 'The Good Wife.' And just as he's walking out on stage, he turned to me and he said, 'You know, I've never interviewed anyone before.' And I said, 'Well, great! Have at it out there!'" Reyes said. "It was before he'd launched his show here, and he was so fantastic on stage. And that same sort of appeal that you can see watching him now was evident right there."

"It was I thought the perfect time to capture that lightning that's around it at that particular moment," Reyes said.

What makes PaleyFest a TV fan mecca

The festival has featured plenty of unique, memorable moments over the years. Reyes said that one of his favorites was the time they reunited the cast of "Lost" for the show's 10th anniversary. Making moments like that is part of the calculus that goes into how Reyes puts the festival together.

"We look at a number of things. Some of it is what's resonating with the public at any particular time," Reyes said. "Also, because the Paley Center is a membership organization, we hear from our members really throughout the year about what shows they want to see at the festival. ... And we also really look at what's resonating critically out there — who's doing new things in television, or using different platforms to really amplify what they're doing on their main show. Someone like James Corden is an example of that, whose use of web and social media has really helped expand the audience for his show.

Paleyfest video

PaleyFest draws fans of both TV as a whole and superfans of certain shows and actors, along with a large contingent of writers and aspiring writers, according to Reyes.

"My favorite PaleyFest experiences have been when someone who's on a panel on stage will remark that, 'Oh my gosh, I was in the audience three or four years ago when i was really trying to get my start in show business, and to be here on this stage now is really special,'" Reyes said.

Reyes said to come in, the water's warm — you don't have to deal with the massive crowds of something like Comic-Con, plus reserved seating means you don't have to fight for your spot.

"I don't think it's as intimidating as going down to something like Comic-Con, where you know you're just going to be immersed in thousands and thousands of people over a very contained amount of time," Reyes said. Not that a more orderly crowd is a bad thing — "When you're in a big room, with 3,000 people who like the same thing you do, I think that that's a really special kind of energy."

PaleyFest L.A. runs from Friday through Sunday, March 26, with other shows at the festival including "This Is Us," "Grey's Anatomy," "Orphan Black," "Bob's Burgers," "Westworld," "Scandal" and the full run of CW superhero shows — "Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl" and "Legends of Tomorrow."