‘Orange Is the New Black’ Kicks Off Inaugural PaleyFest New York

Opening night at Paley Center’s TV festival features Mayor Bloomberg and cast of Netflix prison drama

Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew
Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic

To lead off the Paley Center for Media’s first celebration of TV productions in New York, organizers picked a show that isn’t on traditional television: Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.”

Showrunner Jenji Kohan and cast of the distaff prison drama joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials at the opening of “PaleyFest: Made in NY” Wednesday night at the Paley Center on 52nd Street. The fest, which runs Oct. 2 to 6, is the Gotham debut of the org’s mainstay event that has been held in L.A. for 30 years.

The five-day fest is built around panel sessions for shows including “Orange Is the New Black,” “Person of Interest,” “Louie,” “Elementary,” “The Americans,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Boardwalk Empire” and Internet series “Small Empires” (hosted by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian) and “The Outs.”

Bloomberg, in prepared remarks, praised Gotham as “the world’s most telegenic city” in tubthumping for the entertainment biz here, touting 26 Emmy award wins this year for TV shows produced in New York.

Hizzoner, a card-carrying SAG member, has made appearances in several TV shows of late. But “the problem is I keep getting cast in the same role as the handsome mayor,” Bloomberg joshed.

Kohan and the “OITNB” team are in the midst of lensing season 2 at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. She said she was “thrilled” when Netflix renewed show, produced by Lionsgate, before the first season even debuted. However, she wishes she’d had a bit more time to work on it: “I’m tired.”

Kohan, who showed up with a green (not orange) dye job, demurred at discussing anything about season 2. But when asked if there was enough material for additional runs, she said, “There’s story here forever.”

While “Orange Is the New Black” has garnered industry buzz, Netflix doesn’t release viewing stats so it’s hard to gauge how big the show really is. Asked if that was frustrating, Kohan responded, “I never was someone who looked up the numbers… I’m just happy people are talking about it.”

“OITNB” cast in attendance included lead Taylor Schilling (pictured, above left, with Kate Mulgrew). Schilling, it turns out, had been a Paley Center intern in New York before she began her acting career. Other show members on the red carpet were Jason Biggs, Natasha Lyonne, Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba and Taryn Manning.

Lyonne, for whom “Orange Is the New Black” represents her first TV work, confessed that she hasn’t watched the first season beyond the pilot for fear she’ll second-guess her portrayal of recovering heroin addict Nicky Nichols.

“I wanted to keep it as filthy and real as possible,” she said. “I don’t want to jinx myself by watching it.” (She did affirm, however, that she is a Netflix subscriber.)

In New York City, there are currently 26 primetime shows in production and more than 100 overall when including talkshows, gameshows and news programs, said Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. The entertainment industry generates $7 billion in revenue for the city annually and sustains 130,000 jobs.

Oliver, it should be noted, was decked out in a burnt-orange dress in a nod to the featured show of the evening. “I’m trying to support local productions,” she said gamely.