If I Programmed the Paley Festival

eliza dushku dollhouse

First let’s be clear. The William S. Paley Television Festival is this TV Addict’s Super Bowl equivalent. So much so that for three out of the past four years, I’ve shelled out far too much money than I care to think about for the privilege of spending one week in Los Angeles amidst some of my favorite television show’s casts and creative teams (click here for coverage.)

That said, Daniel Fienberg’s recent column asking, “Has the Paley Festival lost its way?” really got me thinking. And not just about how I can legally change my last name so that it fits into a clever blog title like “The Fien Print.”  

Rather, I’ve been thinking about what I would do if I programmed Paley. And how for every show that is worth honoring this year (see: BIG LOVE and DR. HORRIBLE’s SING-ALONG BLOG) there seems to be an equal number of shows that have yet to prove themselves worthy of sharing the same stage with the likes of past honourees including DEXTER, THE SOPRANOS and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (see: 90210 and DOLLHOUSE.)

Don’t get me wrong, the TV Addict loves Joss Whedon as much as the next Browncoat. But even the most ardent of Whedon supporters would have to concede that awarding his fledging new series DOLLHOUSE a spot among the Paley elite is a wee bit premature. Especially when you consider that Whedon is already being singled out for his ground-breaking new media experiment DR. HORRIBLE’s SING-ALONG BLOG.

In fact, a more cynical TV Addict might speculate that the current trend in Paley programming is to honor shows with a young and vibrant fan base that can handily sell out Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome and simultaneously line the Paley Center for Media’s coffers. Which by the way, I’m not the least bit adverse to considering the countless hours I’ve spent enjoying both the New York and Los Angeles based museums. I just can’t help but feel that there may have been some slightly overlooked and far more deserving shows that could have been included in this year’s festivities.

I mean come’on — 90210? Have the Paley programmers even watched the series?

If I programmed Paley, Julia Louis Dreyfus’ phenomenally underrated NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE would be honored well before relative newcomer THE BIG BANG THEORY. A timely look at the history of late night television featuring a panel of past, current and future hosts would be closing out the Festival rather than the already cancelled and little watched SWINGTOWN. While ABC Family’s GREEK would get some long overdue praise in place of 90210. The latter of which has absolutely no place in any television related festival unless of course it’s headlining a panel entitled, “How NOT to relaunch a cultural icon.”

And don’t even get me started on the inclusion of THE HILLS, because honestly, I’m at a loss for words. Or at the very least, words that are safe for work.

Related Articles of Interest:
The William S. Paley Festival Celebrates “The Hills” And Its Contribution To Television Culture
Has the Paley Festival lost its way?

  • Ace

    I think you are completely right about skewing the audience towards the young. I was dumbfounded when I saw that The Hills was included. For the record, I’m 25 and have NEVER watched that show and never will. If they wanted to recognize a reality show then at least do a good one like Top Chef or the Amazing Race.

    And if they wanted to go with a cheesey drama, then go Gossip Girl!

    I just wish Chuck was on the list.

  • Katie

    I’d like to see a Paley Festival that looked beyond the Joss Whedon’s latest/Battlestar Galactica duology in terms of genre shows or a panel on ‘writing for girls’ or something that gets Whedon, Rob Thomas, Josh Friedman together with Sherman-Palladino and Nancy Miller from “Saving Grace” to discuss the hows and whys of writing shows revolving around female characters and why, in the 21st century, shows called Buffy, Veronica or Sarah are still many times over more likely to be written by men.

  • Katie, I would LOVE to attend that writing panel. Please, someone make that happen!

    Daniel, I agree on pretty much all counts. I’m a Whedon fan, and I’m a fledgling Dollhouse fan, but it’s awfully soon to be including that show. As for 90210 and The Hills. What. Ever. I watched two episodes of 90210 before giving up on it. Have never watched The Hills. I’d much rather see a panel for Old Christine or, please please please please, Psych!

  • I am so happy that True Blood is going to be at the PaleyFest. I love this show and can’t wait until season 2 starts again in the summer. If you interested in reading the latest True Blood news there is this great site at http://truebloodnet.com.