The fifth edition of SeriesFest will deliver panels and programming designed to celebrate individual talent as well as companies who are “taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling.” On the linup is Starz’s upcoming supernatural thriller “The Rook,” a panel with the creatives behind Shondaland, a look at LGBTQ representation on television and attendees such as Stevie Wonder and Ted Sarandos, Variety has learned exclusively.
“The ‘Year of Innovation’ speaks to the powerful narratives and groundbreaking work that our growing SeriesFest community has come to be known for,” said Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith Westbrook, founders of SeriesFest. “During this milestone year we’re thrilled to present a lineup of programming which will highlight and further inspire unique and poignant approaches to storytelling. We’re truly honored to have such an incredibly impressive roster of participants who want to be part of the conversation.”
The six-day festival will kick off with an opening night screening and panel for “The Rook,” with series stars Emma Greenwell, Joely Richardson and Olivia Munn, as well as executive producers Lisa Zwerling, Karyn Usher and Stephen Garrett in attendance.
Additional special screenings include WEtv’s “Power, Influence and Hip-Hop: The Remarkable Rise of So So Def” documentary with Jermaine Dupri, ParticipantMedia’s “America To Me” with producer and director Steve James, Particpant’s chief impact officer Holly Gordon, and cast member Jessica Stovall; The Outdoor Channel’s “My Outdoor Family” with star Eva Shockey and creator/director Branlin Shockey; “Powderkeg: Fuse” with CEO Laura Fischer; and CNBC Prime’s “Cash Pad” with hosts Jordan Rodgers and JoJo Fletcher, as well as Jim Ackerman, executive vice president of primetime alternative programming at CNBC.
Shondaland will take the spotlight for a panel discussion from Alison Eakle, head of fiction and non-fiction; Anna Deavere Smith, playwright, professor and actress who most recently starred on the company’s “For The People” for ABC and is also adapting “Warmth of Other Sons” for the banner; Katie Lowes, former star of “Scandal”; and Akua Murphy, director of short form content. During this panel, the recipient of the first-ever Women Directing Mentorship Initiative from Shondaland and SeriesFest will be announced.
“Identity & Inclusion: LGBTQ Representation in Television” is a panel discussion from the creator/director star of Netflix’s “Eastsiders,” Kit Williamson, alongside executive producer John Halbach; “Click Subscribe: The Podcast Series” will look at the development of storytelling in the audio format with LA Times’ vice president of strategy and development Clint Schaff, CPR’s news director Rachel Estabrook and iHeartMedia’s head of comedy and senior vice president of podcast development Jack O’Brien; “Generation Innovator” Showrunners & Series Creators Under 40″ celebrates “I’m Sorry’s” Joey Slamon, “This Close’s” Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman, and “Florida Girls’s” Laura Chinn in conversation; and “Pitching and Marketing Your Series” will feature Powderkeg’s Fischer in conversation with Lionsgate Television Group’s senior vice president of current programming Lee Hollin, and IFC TV’s manager of original programming David Person.
SeriesFest is also boasting an “Innovation Talks” series, presented in partnership with Liberty Global, to deliver three unique, up-close and personal conversations — with Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, NPR “The Treatment” host Elvis Mitchell, and All3Media’s CEO Jane Turton.
“Liberty Global is particularly pleased to help introduce the ‘Innovation Talks’ series of one-on-one conversations with both visionary business leaders and creative masterminds starting with what promises to be a fascinating conversation between Mike Fries and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos,” said Bob Leighton, Liberty Global’s senior vice president of programming.
And Stephen Colletti and James Lafferty will bring their independent pilot “Everyone is Doing Great” back to the festival, this time as part of a crowdfunding workshop, as well as a screening and Q&A.
This all joins the previously announced “centerpiece” event that sees Stevie Wonder making his Red Rocks Amphitheatre debut, as well as the festival’s annual independent pilot competition.
SeriesFest: Season 5 takes place June 21-26 in Denver, Colo.