Star-studded Monte Carlo TV fest looms

Network heavyweights line up to promote global distribution

PARIS -- As the U.S. TV season wraps up, a slew of small-screen stars are heading to Monaco for the 49th annual Monte Carlo Television Festival, which kicks off Sunday.

The five-day event, presided over by Monaco's Prince Albert II, will gather TV stars from across the globe including Matthew Fox ("Lost"), Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Ghost Whisperer"), Kate Walsh ("Private Practice"), Eric Close ("Without a Trace") and Kyle MacLachlan ("Desperate Housewives").

"Law & Order" producer Dick Wolf will join cast members Anthony Anderson, Sam Waterston, Linus Roache and S. Epatha Merkerson to promote the worldwide hit show, now with local versions in France and the U.K.

Producer Darren Star and actors Rob Estes and Lori Loughlin will leave their "90210" ZIP code for interviews in the Monagesque town. The hit CW series will air in France on TV network M6.

The festival will open Sunday night with a world premiere screening of documentary "Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace" presented by Channel Production Films.

Public festival goers will be treated to premiere screenings of "Saving Grace" and "True Blood," and professionals can participate in the "TV Xchanges" program of roundtables and conferences.

This year's "TV Xchanges" program will feature roundtables addressing new trends in TV dramas, new revenue streams for audiovisual financing and new technologies.

The festival will wrap Thursday night with the traditional Golden Nymph prize ceremony. U.S. series "Mad Men," "Boston Legal" and "Lost" will vie for the best drama award while "30 Rock," "The Office" and "Entourage" compete for the title of best comedy, among other prizes in the TV movie, soap opera and miniseries categories.