The cast of Riverdale chats during a past PaleyFest panel discussion.
For nearly four decades, the Paley Center for Media has brought to Los Angeles a celebration of television that lets fans and professionals soak up the silver screen’s magic together. This year, PaleyFest finally returns to the Dolby Theatre for what is likely to be the festival’s most highly anticipated run after pivoting online the last few years.
Promising more memories and behind-the-scenes scoops, PaleyFest 2022’s stacked lineup features network and streaming greats, including Hacks, This is Us and A Salute to the NCIS Universe. Ahead of the event, which runs April 2 to 10, we spoke with Paley Center CEO and President Maureen J. Reidy.
PaleyFest was among the first affected events when the pandemic set in in 2020. How does it feel to be back in-person?
Actually the last time we were in-person was in 2019. Right before our 2020 festival was when COVID shut down, so we were forced to cancel it. This will be the first time in three years that we're back in person at the iconic Dolby Theatre and we're really, really thrilled to be back.
In addition to fans and TV creators being able to gather together in the same place, what are you looking forward to most about this year’s festival?
I have to say that the energy and excitement around this year's PaleyFest is unprecedented. I've truly never seen anything like this before. I think that fans have been eagerly anticipating the return to PaleyFest.
Our programming team has really put together an extraordinary lineup that offers something for everyone. There are three shows that are celebrating their series finale, so I think we'll expect a lot of laughter and nostalgia, but probably some tears too as we say goodbye to Black-ish, This Is Us and Better Call Saul. And I think for fans of those shows, this is very likely one of the last times they'll be able to see the entire cast and creative team in-person. The magic of PaleyFest is about being in that room. From the moment that the stars arrive on the red carpet, to when they take the seat on the Dolby stage, to when the discussions start, to the audience q&a where the audience gets to ask a question— it's just the energy in the theater is electric and it just creates memories that last a lifetime. The conversations very often reveal never-before-revealed stories and it really provides a peek behind the story and behind the scenes to fans of shows… I think that this lineup truly reflects the extraordinary work that's being done by creatives in the industry today.
Aside from having a recent season, how does a television show make it onto the PaleyFest lineup?
I have to say that our programming and curatorial team are really respected in the industry and are truly the best in the business. They spent months researching and reviewing and selecting shows that will be honored at PaleyFest. They sort of have their own secret formula and it includes booking shows that are the most culturally-relevant, buzzworthy shows, but that are also critically-acclaimed and make a social impact . I really think that's reflected by this lineup that they've assembled and presented for the festival.
I think the other thing is that television and its audiences for decades have really enjoyed a special relationship. It's a shared experience often among family and friends. Whether it's a show that comes into your home or on your device, there's just a special relationship. So PaleyFest brings that to life and it offers an opportunity for audiences to be in the room with the cast and creative team of these shows that are so important to them.
Among the fantastic lineup is “A Salute to the NCIS Universe.” Why is now the right time to celebrate this franchise?
I just think they have such a gifted ensemble of actors, and there’s always such strong, compelling storylines that it just seemed the right time to celebrate two decades of this NCIS Universe franchise. And they always delight audiences and there's a real, deep connection with the fanbase.
What is the ultimate goal for the 2022 PaleyFest?
I think to just be together. PaleyFest has been around for 39 years, and so to have been virtual for the last three years has been, I think, tough for everyone. So to just bring everybody back together in person after being virtual for three years, it's something everyone is excited about and looking forward to.
The Paley Center for Media obviously puts on a one-of-a-kind event, but can you tell us more about your organization’s important work?
We preserve our media history. We have the world's foremost, publicly-accessible archive of television and radio programming. It spans 100 years and many refer to it as a national treasure. So we preserve our media history through the Paley archive, and then throughout the year, we showcase media's powerful, shaping influence on our culture through our programs and educational classes. I think never before has our mission been more vital.
With some of the societal and cultural issues that we've been facing over the last few years, I think Paley has been uniquely positioned to convene really important conversations that shine a light on important cultural topics.
I'm really proud of the work that the team does here. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this team didn't miss a beat. Within a week of shutting down in March of 2020, the team launched our virtual platform, Paley at Home, and continued to bring our best in class programs to our members and to the public and to students in the two years that followed. We presented hundreds of programs virtually and successfully and garnered tens of millions of views online…We're very strong in this moment, and so we're just excited to be back in person.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Tickets are available at PaleyFest.org, where you can also become a Paley Member. Memberships are tax deductible and include ticket discounts, advance purchase opportunities and other special benefits.
Photography by: Paley Center for Media/PaleyFest