TV world makes mountain trek

Banff fest draws top name in biz to talk shop

While accepting the Peter Ustinov Award June 15 at the Banff World Television Festival, Ricky Gervais joked, “My friends tell me that I’ll travel to the ends of the earth to get an award. Well, here I am.”

Banff, located in the midst of the gorgeous Canadian Rockies, isn’t that remote, but though the official tallies aren’t in, around 1,600 industryites made the trek, up about 30% from a year ago — a sign that despite the significants costs and a tough economy, there’s a thirst for knowledge about all things TV. Fest ended June 16.

Attended by a combination of Canadian producers wanting to up their stake in the business, and non-Canadians who simply wanted to network, the Banff fest has become a TV melting pot.

“Our international delegation is at an all-time high,” says Robert Montgomery, an exec at Achilles Media, the org that puts the Banff fest together. “It’s about learning and building the craft of television.”

The star power helps, too. Gervais packed ’em in, chatting up all things “The Office,” “Extras” and upcoming skein “Life’s Too Short,” about thespian little person Warwick Davis, a friend of Gervais; and his early influences, specifically Laurel and Hardy.

While Gervais came from across the Pond, the Hollywood contingency is strong and growing every year. Speaking in casual conversation to auds about their shows and what it takes to make a hit were “The Good Wife” exec producer David Zucker and “The Big Bang Theory” exec producer Bill Prady, as well as Vince Gilligan and Ian Brennan of “Breaking Bad” and “Glee,” respectively.

Rain fell during most of the four-day event but nobody seemed to mind sloshing through a few puddles to gather info that comes to this part of the globe only once a year.

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