Less biz, same glitz at Monte Carlo fest

More U.S. tube stars making trek this year

MONTE CARLO – In its 45th year, the Monte Carlo Television Festival, which has abandoned its business and conference agendas this edition, promises to be a different affair, though no less glitzy than in previous runs. Fest kicked off Sunday and wraps Friday.

More talent will be crossing the pond from the U.S., including five reps from Disney’s “Desperate Housewives,” among them thesp Marcia Cross and producer Michael Edelstein, as well as Matthew Fox from the Mouse House’s “Lost.” Carlos Bernard from Fox’s “24” also will be making the trip.

France’s TF1 will be bringing 40 of the top names from various series.

The festival has dumped the conference program that it held the last couple of years, as it dropped the market side of the fest in 2002.

Several years ago it changed the festival dates from February to June. The revamping has brought charges that the fest is struggling to forge an identity.

Not so, insisted festival chief David Tomatis. He described the event as a growing showcase for international talent and new programming from around the globe, and that the changes have been oriented toward shaping its identity around this brief.

“The programs in the main competition come from 23 countries around the globe,” he noted. Close to a dozen come from Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Biggest numbers come from the U.S. and Europe, but the fest intends to raise its global profile.

“We want to become the equivalent of the Cannes festival in the TV world,” said Tomatis, a goal he has frequently stressed at past runs.

Tomatis added that the fest will have more public screenings than ever, and wants to build on this in the future. To that end, Canal Plus will launch the first episode of “Desperate Housewives” this week in the series’ French premiere. “The Inside,” starring Rachel Nichols, also will have its European preem, as will CBS Paramount’s sci-fi drama “The 4400.”

The fest was created in 1961 by the late Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Tomatis told Daily Variety that Prince Albert, officially in a three-month mourning period until July 6, will be in attendance at the opening ceremonies, although not opening it as he has in previous years.

“(Prince Albert) has been very much involved in the planning, and has made it clear to us that he intends to remain president” of the fest, Tomatis added.

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