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TORONTO – What the Toronto International Film Festival does for major studio pictures looking to generate Oscar buzz each September, the inaugural Canadian International Television Festival is looking to repeat for rookie and returning U.S. and Canadian TV series.
The Toronto TV fan festival set for November 16 and spearheaded by Canadian broadcaster Bell Media will allow local and U.S. producers to premiere mid-season programming, backed by series actors and directors hitting the stage at Bell Lightbox, TIFF’s year-round home.
The festival, modeled on PaleyFest in Los Angeles, will also see Canadian series casts and creative teams connect with fans.
“We’re hoping that the talent and directors talk to the audience and engage the audience that way, with the stars and the red carpet,” John Galway, who is on the CITF board, explained.
The mid-November slot for the Canadian festival aims to allow series cast taking part in panels to tease the rest of a current season and upcoming finales, or deliver a first-look at mid-season shows shortly to debut in the new year.
Besides screening full episodes and retrospectives, the CITF will allow Canadian fans to see their favorite TV stars via cast reunions, Q&As, script readings and other live events.
The Canadian TV showcase comes as domestic broadcasters continue bulking up on local primetime hits like Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, while continuing to exploit popular U.S. series like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family to fend off growing competition for eyeballs from Netflix Canada and other emerging digital platforms.
“We can’t think of a better way to mark this golden age of television than by supporting a public festival that invites viewers and creators to celebrate TV,” Bell Media president Kevin Crull said Wednesday.
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