PaleyFest LA 2021: Preview this year’s star-studded virtual event

Paley Center for Media/Courtesy of The Lippin Group
Paley Center for Media/Courtesy of The Lippin Group /

PaleyFest LA 2021 is happening now—but how has TV’s biggest event adapted to the virtual world? And how does The Paley Center for Media bring some of the most popular TV shows to fans year after year?

Hidden Remote spoke with Paley Center vice president Rene Reyes to get the inside scoop on how this annual event came together this year. Featured shows in 2021 include The Queen’s GambitLovecraft CountryTed Lasso, and What We Do in the Shadows; a full lineup is available on the organization’s website.

Paley Center members and Citi credit card holders can start streaming panels now here, while the festival goes public on Tuesday, March 30 while rolling out additional videos on March 31 and April 1. Panels go live at 10:00 am ET/7:00 p.m. PT.

More from Interviews

Hidden Remote: How do you select which programs are featured at PaleyFest? It’s always seemed to be a mix of recent hits and cult favorites.

Rene Reyes: We’re a member-based organization, and our community of members—which include both the fans and the creators of great TV—are a wonderful source of inspiration in terms of crafting the lineup. We hear from them throughout the year. They share what they’re passionate about and it informs a lot of what we do.

From a curatorial perspective, we also look at what a series or performer has achieved creatively, and where they fit in the overall landscape of television from a cultural and social perspective. It’s a thrilling time in TV right now, because of diversity of storytelling that’s accessible to audiences. Having the opportunity to celebrate that diversity through the wide array of genres taking part in PaleyFest—from a horror comedy like What We Do in the Shadows through a medical drama like The Good Doctor—is especially fun. Then, adding in some historic context, like reuniting the cast of Six Feet Under for the series’ 20th anniversary, really affords us a unique opportunity to share the stories behind some truly wonderful TV series.

HR: This is the second year you’ve been virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What went into pivoting from a physical event to a virtual one? What are some of the things you’ve been able to do virtually that you might not have if the physical event had happened in Los Angeles?

RR: It’s really opened up the possibility of the full casts of series shooting internationally to take part. For example, we very much wanted to celebrate Ted Lasso, which has made such an impact creatively and emotionally during this pandemic year. The series is in the midst of shooting its second season in the United Kingdom. It would have been impossible for the full cast to travel and join us in person here in LA, especially while shooting overseas. Given [that] we were virtual, in a sense we brought the festival to them. It’s a fabulous conversation hosted by the great Patton Oswalt, and I can’t wait for fans to see it.

The virtual space has also allowed us to welcome fans from around the country who might not have experienced a PaleyFest event yet, and that’s been a thrill, too. We’re really looking forward to being an “in person” event again when it’s safe to do so, but there are elements of the virtual space, like its accessibility to audiences everywhere, that will continue to be a part of the festival.

HR: This event is really the premier happening solely dedicated to TV. What do you think has contributed to making PaleyFest an institution among TV fans? What keeps it interesting and exciting from your perspective?

RR: I think it’s the fans and the storytellers and actors who’ve made it an institution. The interaction between the fan community and the makers of the shows they love is what really forms the heart of the festival. The Paley Center is an organization that celebrates, examines and preserves the history of television, so from the stars and creators, I’ve heard it’s gratifying to be part of the continuum of great series recognized by PaleyFest over the years.

The fans and their appreciation for the shows they love is what keeps it vital and new. Because of fans and their enthusiasm, we’ve been able to be at the forefront of recognizing creative excellence in television for four decades—from All in the Family all the way through Lovecraft Country. I’m so grateful for that.

Next. Alex Barima dishes on SyFy's Resident Alien. dark

Watch all the PaleyFest LA 2021 panels exclusively at the Paley Center Yahoo! Entertainment channel.