ATX TV Festival Shifts to Virtual Event as Reunions Pushed to 2021

Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Jack Plunkett

As expected, the ATX Television Festival is no longer moving forward as planned.

Co-founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson have opted to cancel the in-person festival, scheduled for June 5-7, in favor of what they're calling "ATX TV … From the Couch," a virtual gathering designed to celebrate the medium.

Major reunions that were planned to take place this summer — Scrubs, Cougar Town, Parenthood, Oz and the writers from Justified — are all being rescheduled for the festival's 10th season, which is now set for June 10-13, 2021.

Formal details of the virtual panels will be announced soon, with the majority closer to the festival's June timing. It's unclear which, if any, of the previously announced panels will take place in the new virtual format. Screenings and panels for The CW's Nancy Drew, Comedy Central's The Other Two and Drunk History and TBS' Full Frontal With Samantha Bee were all planned for the Austin-based festival.

The ATX TV Festival is the latest pop culture event to be scrapped as the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, San Diego Comic-Con organizers remain hopeful that their late-July event, which annually attracts hundreds of thousands of fans, will take place as planned.

ATX TV Festival co-founders McFarland and Gipson made the announcement Monday with a heartfelt joint statement. Read that in full, below:

"These last few weeks have been incredibly challenging and continue to be full of uncertainties. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps now more than ever, we believe that TV is a powerful medium for change and empathy. We are committed to our mission of fully serving and fostering our community at all times. For this reason, and to ensure the ongoing safety of all, this year we will not be having a physical festival in Austin, but instead we will be celebrating television where we all enjoy it, the couch! We are excited to announce that ATX Television Festival season nine will be a virtual weekend (June 5-7, 2020) where we can still come together and celebrate our love of TV and its ever evolving forms, especially during times like these. We’re calling it ATX TV ... from the Couch! This will be a television experience unlike anything we’ve done before, and we are emboldened by the possibilities we are discussing with our panelists and partners. We are confident we can continue to have great conversations, showcase new and old favorite series, and interact with our incredible community ... with a lot of fun surprises along the way. The one thing we know is that talking about TV from the place where we watch it ... our living rooms ... simply makes sense. While we are sad not to be coming together physically this summer, we are excited to experience #TVTogether virtually for season nine, and return live and in person for season 10 (June 10-13, 2021). We’ll have more information for y’all in the coming weeks about our virtual TV Camp for Grown Ups as it will be making its way to your small screens soon."

Hear more from McFarland and Gipson about how they approach programming the festival during a special live edition of TV's Top 5 here.