Barring circumstances beyond my control (i.e., death, dismemberment, or a job interview), I’m headed to the Banff World Television Festival from June 13-16. The TV festival is now combined with the NextMedia new media festival, since the distinction between the two has become so blurred.

It’ll be my fourth time there, which doesn’t mean I’m blasé about it. It’s still the one event that really gets my geek juices flowing. Unlike fan-based events such as PaleyFest – which I also enjoy – Banff is a conference for the makers of television, who pay a lot of money to attend, meaning it’s not tilted towards public relations fluff so much as the nuts and bolts of making and promoting shows. That said, there’s a lot of star power arriving at Banff this year.

At a festival where writers are rock stars, it’s hard to say whether William Shatner and Ricky Gervais will eclipse or be eclipsed by the creators of shows such as Breaking Bad (Vincent Gilligan), Dexter (James Manos), Glee (Ian Brennan), or The Big Bang Theory (Bill Prady, who hates me). They’re all speaking at Master Class or Feature Interview sessions.

Producers for The Good Wife (David Zucker) and So You Think You Can Dance (Nigel Lythgoe) will speak, and attendees will be able to catch a screening for Running Wilde (starring Will Arnett and Keri Russell), a panel on Call Me Fitz (starring Jason Priestley), and previews for Rookie Blue, Shattered, and Haven.

There’s a coterie of Canadian actors appearing to discuss the star system (and, presumably, the relative lack thereof in Canada) and how it can help or hinder a show. Eric McCormack – who I’ll also be seeing at Vancouver’s Stanley Theatre this summer, where he’s performing in Glengarry Glen Ross – is the one who’s made his name in the US, while Peter Keleghan, Kenny Hotz, and Zaib Shaikh are more recognizable as stay-at-home actors.

I’ve always loved Illeana Douglas, who went from quirky actress to quirky web series pioneer. Her latest is Easy to Assemble and she’s part of a panel on Webisodes vs. Episodes.

I’m especially interested in what Matt Mason has to say (not THAT Matt Mason, those who know me from OBS). He’s the author of The Pirate’s Dilemma– How Youth Culture Invented Capitalism, and he’ll talk about how “illegal forces within the entertainment industry have always contributed to its development and that the best way to deal with these forces is to compete with them head on.” Unfortunately he’s speaking at the same time as James Manos of Dexter, so if my cloning project doesn’t pay off soon I’ll have to make a choice.

I’ll be writing about topics that come up at the festival and interviewing some of the participants for TV, eh? and Blogcritics so stay tuned for more rambling.

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