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October 7, 2015


NBCU picks up comedy winner from the NY Television Festival

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 13th 2006 7:44PM
Split the Difference logoOur friends at the New York Television Festival gleefully sent us a press release today announcing that the rights to one of the pilots that showed at the festival in September -- and was covered like a blanket by TVS -- has been picked up by a major network.

Split the Difference, which won both the comedy competition and the TV Guide Audience Award, is the first scripted pilot to be picked up in the two-year history of the festival, as well as the first to be picked up by a major network. It's a mockumentary-style comedy that revolves around the rivalry-filled and phony world of making television commercials.

I thought it was by far the funniest pilot in the comedy competition, but that the mockumentary format would have to change so it didn't look like The Office at an advertising firm. Good to see we'll get a chance to see how this show gets developed. You can see the full press release after the jump. And you can still see the pilot on MSN.

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A fast Q&A with Spike Feresten

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 25th 2006 11:24AM
Spike FerestenIf you've never heard of Spike Feresten, you've at least heard some of his funny words. As a writer on Seinfeld, he penned "The Soup Nazi" episode, which many consider one of the best on the classic series. He also wrote for SNL, Late Show with David Letterman and The Dana Carvey Show.

Now he's in front of the camera with TALKSHOW with Spike Feresten (Saturdays at midnight on FOX), his twisted take on the tried-and-true late-night talk show format. How twisted? Well, in the last episdoe, he scoured a crummy neighborhood in L.A. looking for a sidekick, had Mary Lynn Rajskub operate heavy machinery after downing half a bottle of Nyquil, and presented a barbershop quartet that sung homo-erotic songs.

I caught up with Spike right before he conducted a Q&A with the cast of fellow FOX show Standoff at last week's New York Television Festival. We talked a little about his new show, but mostly just dicussed Seinfeld. The interview is after the jump.

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A fast Q&A with Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt of Standoff

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 20th 2006 7:01PM
Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt of StandoffOn the new FOX drama Standoff, Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt play Matt Flannery and Emily Lehman, who are partners on one of the FBI's finest crisis negotiaton teams. They also happen to be sleeping together. The show examines how the personal aspect of their relationship mixes in with the high-stakes nature of their jobs. I was able to get a few minutes with the pair before the screening of the show's pilot at the New York Television Festival. Of course, no Ron Livingston interview could go by without my sneaking in an Office Space question or two, which I did at the end:

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NYTVF: Awards ceremony and Standoff screening

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 18th 2006 7:10PM
MSN award to Squid Dragon Legend
After a rainy Friday night spent holed up in my apartment recapping the NYTVF events on Thursday, and a Saturday of rest, I was back at the Directors Guild Theater on Sunday for the festival's final two events: the awards ceremony and a screening of the FOX show Standoff.

I have to say, after all the craziness of the last week, the NYTVF folks did a good job of getting people in and out quickly. The award ceremony was only about a half-hour, and they decided to forego the red carpet for Standoff, thus keeping the rabid ranks of media and fans under control. It was probably just too exhausting to deal with for them, and I think they had the right idea. More info -- and pictures -- after the jump.

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NYTVF: Educational pilots

by Richard Keller, posted Sep 16th 2006 12:40PM

Critical Hours an Education nominee at the New York Television FestivalWhile my hard-working brother Joel has been bothering television hotshots with his sitcom idea on the Spanish Inquisition covering daily activities at the New York Television Festival, he has provided me with four pilots from the Educational category to review. As a father of young children it's interesting to see what is in the pipeline under this category because, frankly, you can only watch Jeff falling asleep on The Wiggles Show so many times. With the future education of my children in mind, I have requested the assistance of my nearly six-year-old daughter Samantha to provide a child's eye review of these pilots to go along with my gruff, skeptical adult opinions.

By the way, if you want to follow along you can watch all of these pilots over at MSN. That being said, let's jump ahead to the pilots.

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NYTVF: Drama pilots

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 16th 2006 10:10AM

NYTVFI didn't really know what to expect from these pilots. Well, I kinda did, but I thought they'd be...I don't know, a little better than this? There are four drama pilots (you can watch them here at MSN), and they range from very well done to amateurish.


Premise: It's about a small-time TV channel looking for a hit, and one of the workers (Bernie, so broke he's stealing money from his mother in the first scene) seems to have found one in a reality show that's (in his words) "a cross between America's Most Wanted and Survivor." A woman, Elizabeth Benton, has been missing for a while, and there are no leads, so why not have a reality show competition to see who can find her first? He convinces his boss Sam to put the show on the air, and soon it becomes a hit.

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NYTVF: Comedy pilots

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 15th 2006 7:39PM
Split the Difference titleWhat I found interesting about the comedy pilots from the New York Television Festival is how slickly-done most of them were. Of the six pilots in this category -- the largest number of pilots in any category -- four looked like they could air on a network right now. And at least three of them had actors that should be recognizable to regular TV watchers. Of course, high production value doesn't necessarily translate to good comedy. But there were really fun and creative aspects in all the pilots. My reviews are after the jump, and you can watch the pilots on MSN.

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NYTVF: The Knights of Prosperity premiere and party

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 15th 2006 6:03PM
Knights of Prosperity premiere
Fed, cooled-off by the Frappuchino, and now smelling sporty-fresh, I stationed myself near the red carpet for the premiere of ABC's new comedy The Knights of Prosperity. You've heard about the show by now; a group of down-on-their luck folks conspire to rob Mick Jagger in order to help them improve their dreary lives.

I was shuttled around a couple of times to make room for photographers with real cameras, so the pictures after the jump are taken from a couple of different areas. Outside, press and photographers were put in a pen, with barriers on three sides. I didn't want to stand inside the pen while waiting for everyone to go in, because it just felt a touch humiliating. As I pointed out to another reporter: barriers on two sides make a line, but barriers on three sides make a pen. Yeesh. More pictures after the jump.

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NYTVF: Dan Rather looks me straight in the eye

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 15th 2006 2:33PM
Dan RatherWhen you're sitting less than ten feet away from a television legend, you pay attention, even if you're hot and sweaty and somewhat aware that the deodorant you put on in the morning is no longer doing its job. That's the situation I was in as I hustled uptown from the One-Minute Pitch finals just in time for the panel discussion on the news media's role in a war zone. Twenty minutes and one very muggy F train station later, I found myself in the front row, with a panel of distinguished newsmen in front of me. But everyone knew the attraction was Rather.

More on the panel -- and more pictures -- after the jump.

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NYTVF: One-Minute Pitch finals

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 15th 2006 12:55PM
One Minute Pitch posterWhen I got back from my NY Television Festival activities on Wednesday, I was so damned tired that I decided to sleep in again. I had two choices of places to go early yesterday: Some pilot screenings or the finals of the One-Minute Pitch Contest. Since my oh-so-kind colleagues here at TVS are reviewing the pilots for me, I decided to go to the Pitch contest instead. So I walked through the rain, bagel in hand, to the IFC Center in the West Village, where the contest was being held.

The contest, held by the IFC channel in conjunction with the festival, invited people to record one-minute pitches and send them in. Fifteen finalists were chosen, and they were given two minutes to describe their first episode to a panel of three judges, who get to ask one clarifying question. Then five ideas are chosen to go through a second round of questioning. Finally, a winner was chosen from the remaining five. Who was the winner? I'll give you that information -- and pictures -- after the jump.

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NYTVF: Reality pilots

by Brett Love, posted Sep 15th 2006 10:12AM
New York Television FestivalJoel had been checking out the New York Television Festival this week, and he sent along 5 pilots from the Reality category for me to take a look at. Apparently that's what you get for being the guy that reviews Dancing with the Stars...

Seriously though, I've watched a lot of reality TV, so I was looking forward to this collection. If you would like to play along at home, you can watch all of these pilots at MSN. Be warned though, it will require Windows, Internet Explorer, Media Player 10, and your left pinky toe to view them. That said, on with the show.

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NYTVF: Animation pilots

by Jen Creer, posted Sep 14th 2006 6:48PM
End of the LineI was excited to get the screener for the Animation pilots for the New York Television Festival, because if you can't go to the festival, you might as well get to watch stuff in advance right? Of course, now you can watch them, too, but that's beside the point. I requested the Animation pilot because A) I have kids, B) I also write for our sister blog, Blogging Baby, C) my husband loves Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, and that is kind of what these shows are like. Which renders A and B on my list completely irrelevant.

Reviewed here: End of the Line, Squid Dragon Legend and Strange Transmissions.

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A fast Q&A with Mitchell Hurwitz of Arrested Development

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 14th 2006 1:05PM
Mitchell HurwitzAfter he participated in a hilarious NYTVF panel discussion with fellow showrunners Mike Scully and Phil Rosenthal, Mitchell Hurwitz, who was the executive producer of Arrested Development, was nice enough to give me a couple of minutes after he came off stage. Of course, the conversation had to do with his decision to end AD, even though Showtime was going to pick up the show for a fourth season. His responses were interesting.

JK: I interviewed Will Arnett about a month ago, and he told me a lot of the same stuff you mentioned during the panel, that Arrested kept getting renewed because it kept getting awards and it would make FOX look bad to ax it.

Hurwitz: You know, I shouldn't be talking about this, because it really sounds like sour grapes. But it was a privilege. It was a privileged experience, and I know it was a privileged experience. But nonetheless, it's such a high-stakes thing, that when you're cancelled very late, and all that work, that it feels like it didn't turn into a profit, you know. But the more I get away from it, the more I realize that, no, they... they put it on the air.

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NYTVF: Screenings and a trio of sitcom bigwigs

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 14th 2006 11:09AM
Robert Thompson, Mike Scully, Phil Rosenthal, and Mitch Hurwitz
Because of Tuesday night's festival kickoff party, I decided to sleep in a little yesterday. Because of that, I missed both a morning panel on the value of independent TV production, which included Doug Herzog, the president of Comedy Central. I also missed the screening for the first set of Drama pilots. But I did manage to catch the first batch of Reality pilots, the first batch of Comedy pilots, and a really funny panel discussion about the American family on TV.

Why was the panel hilarious? Because the three people on the panel were executive producers Mitchell Hurwitz of Arrested Development, Phil Rosenthal of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Mike Scully of The Simpsons. So no one was left unscathed joke-wise; even the creator of 7th Heaven was lovingly labeled a "whore."

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NYTVF: Photos of the Kidnapped premiere and party

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 13th 2006 11:50AM
Folks, I never got into this job to be a red carpet/party reporter. I'm not good in noisy crowds of people I don't know, and I'm especially not good at fighting other people to be heard in a group. But when I found myself on the press side of the red carpet for the premiere of NBC's Kidnapped last night, I tried to do my best.

The red carpet consists of whatever stars are coming to the premiere slowly walking down a procession of press people: first they pose for photographers, then they talk to television and other video outlets, then they answer questions from lowly print outlets like us. I decided to hang out at the end of the line and catch what I could, since I'd also be going to the screening and the afterparty (which also doubled as the NYTVF launch party). And since I was on the Kidnapped set a few weeks ago (that post is in the works), there wasn't much more to ask the principals that I hadn't already. But it was still an interesting evening. After the jump, a few pictures of my night.

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