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While Taormina is playing up its new populist appeal through comedies, it is also boasting an educational bent.

In what might be seen as sacrilege by some cinephiles, TV takes the spotlight in several onstage conversations — dubbed Tao Class Chats — about smallscreen stardom in America. Jason Lewis (“Sex and the City,” “Brothers & Sisters”), Lisa Edelstein (“House”) and young hearttrobs Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”) and Britt Robertson (“The Secret Circle”) have been recruited for the chats in Taormina’s Greek Theatre to discuss TV stardom vs. movie stardom, and keeping a character fresh on a long-running skein.

New fest topper Mario Sesti will use a format similar to events he had hosted while running the Rome Film Festival sidebar Extra, which will be renamed for its November run under new Rome honcho Marco Mueller.

It’s clearly been a race against the clock for the Taormina topper, who was officially appointed in May to head the June 23-28 event.

“It’s obvious that this edition has been hastily put together,” he says, “but I want to gauge the reaction to this change of course.” Not only is Sesti delving into TV, but the 2012 festival edition also features comedies, a contrast to its previous movie stars and arthouse pics mandate.

“Festivals must have a formative function,” says Sesti, who in TV-crazy Italy has opted for a Tao Class topic that may get him some extra attention.

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Taormina fest puts laughs on track