The PaleyFest used to be something special.
It used to be a true celebration of television, of the medium's rich legacy. The annual two weeks of panel salutes to the best of the smallscreen, as it began when the Paley Center for Media was called the Museum of Television and Radio, would honor TV from all eras — "Your Show of Shows," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Taxi," "Hill Street Blues" — as well as contemporary greats from the current year.
For my first few years at Variety, for example, I would suggest to the Paley peeps that a reunion of "The White Shadow," whose alumni include directors Thomas Carter, Kevin Hooks, Eric Laneuville and Tim Van Patten, would be perfect for the festival.
Now, I wouldn't even bother pitching it.
For the second year in a row and third out of the past four, the PaleyFest has a lineup that includes not a single show that isn't currently on the air. Yes, instead of getting a chance to revisit a true classic from the past, we'll get to see NBC's legendary "Revolution" and luxuriate in its long, 10-episode legacy.
Look, I'm not meaning to pick on "Revolution" or any other modern show in particular. It's just that the overall balance of the festival has simply tilted way too far to the present. It's fine if the PaleyFest wants to spend time looking forward to a show that's just getting off the ground (however much this comes across as a blunt marketing ploy), but if the former MT&R isn't also looking back, it has lost sight of its mission.
Here's a look at the Paley lineups of the past four years:
I love "Community," but do we really need panels on the show four years in a row?
Presumably, the Paley Center has come to the conclusion that the present is where its bread is buttered. It's capitalizing on fan interest the same way, I suppose, that a ComicCon would. (The name change in 2007 was certainly designed in part to reflect more of a focus on current events.)
But I have to think they are vastly underestimating the passion for shows from the past, not to mention their relevance to today's world. If it is a flagship event of a true preservationist operation — as its fundraising efforts never fail to suggest — the PaleyFest should move forward by looking back.