×

Hollywood and Euro Royalty Mingle at Monte Carlo TV Fest

Hollywood royalty will be mingling with European royalty at this month’s Monte Carlo Television Festival.

The Hollywood contingent travelling to Monte Carlo — known for its glamorous location, red carpets and press junkets — includes Michael Douglas, who will receive the event’s top award, the Crystal Nymph, from Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Kennedy family scion and Academy Award-nominated documentary maker Rory Kennedy heads the festival’s news jury, and also presents the world premiere of the National Geographic film “Apollo: Missions to the Moon.”

Stars Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union will be in Monte Carlo for the festival’s opening screening of Sony Pictures Television series “L.A.’s Finest.” “SpongeBob SquarePants” will screen at the fest’s Kids & Family Day to mark its 20th anniversary.

Set up in 1961 by Monaco’s Prince Rainier, whose marriage to actress Grace Kelly lent an aura of showbiz glamour to the tiny but wealthy principality, Monte Carlo bills itself as the longest-running TV festival in the world. Albert II, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace’s son, is now the festival’s honorary president.

Festival chief executive Laurent Puons pitches the Monte Carlo Television Festival as “an ideal platform for U.S. studios and digital platforms to present and communicate their shows and talent” to the media and public in Europe.

Series such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Game of Thrones” and, last year, Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” all launched at Monte Carlo.

In recent years, Puons has actively courted digital platforms to showcase their new shows at the festival. On a recent trip to Los Angeles he met with Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

“Our goal is to welcome not only the U.S. studios but also the digital platforms. It is very important to me,” he says.

It’s an attitude that runs in stark contrast to the troubled relationship that the nearby Cannes Film Festival has with leading digital platform Netflix.

A former professional boxer, Puons took over running the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 2012, and heads up a number of other events in Monaco, such as sports media conference Sportel and computer graphics event Imagina.

He’s re-focused the festival so that it is very much public facing. As such it is now different from predominantly business-to-business events such as MipTV, Cannes and the fast-growing Series Mania, which each take place in France within a few months of Monte Carlo.

“We are not in competition with them at all,” Puons says. “Series Mania, for example, is more focused on business. It is open to the public, but not like us. It’s the same with Cannes.”

Indeed, fans are welcome at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. Puons says around 7,000 people, many of them from all over Europe, come to tread the red carpet for screenings. The festival also features autograph signings, meet-the-stars and behind-the-scenes events.

Sony Pictures Television will have a significant presence this year. Talent from its shows “The Good Doctor” and “The Young and the Restless” will attend the event, on top of the opening-night screening of “L.A.’s Finest.”

“The festival provides us with a far-reaching platform to help launch the show and kickstarts our activities with our partners across Europe,” says Mark Young, SPT’s executive VP of distribution and networks for Western Europe.

Elsewhere, talent from CBS and Universal’s “Magnum P.I.” and “FBI,” as well as Showtime’s “Billions” will be there for promotional duties at Monte Carlo, as well as from French shows such as “Plus Bella La Vie” and “Un Si Grand Soleil.”

That’s not to say business isn’t done at Monte Carlo. This year, Puons has established a dedicated business lounge, in association with Variety, at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel.

“It’s a comfortable place for the professionals who attend to meet, discuss and do business,” Puons says.

The heart of the festival, however, remains the competition, which is split into two sections: fiction and news. While Kennedy heads the news section, the fiction category jury is led by Ricky Whittle, star of “American Gods.”

Twenty-eight shows from 17 countries are vying for the festival’s Golden Nymph awards. The drama series category has six projects competing: “Bodyguard” (U.K.), “Killing Eve” (U.K.), “Das Boot” (Germany, Czech Republic), “Moscow Noir” (Sweden), “My Brilliant Friend” (Italy) and “State of Happiness” (Norway).

In the long fiction category, meanwhile, is “A Very English Scandal” (U.K.), “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (U.S.), “Dukla 62” (Czech Republic), “Escape at Dannemora” (U.S.), “Thirst for Life” (France) and “Before the Night” (Italy).

Casting his eye across the festival’s lineup, Puons says the level of TV talent “gets better and better” each year. He points to Alba and Union, who will both tread the red carpet at Monte Carlo for “L.A.’s Finest.”

“There really are no barriers between cinema and TV right now.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    Sean Penn Drama 'The First' Was 'Unrelatable' to British Audiences, Channel 4 Exec Says

    Channel 4’s director of programs Ian Katz says the British broadcaster has learned a good lesson from the failure last year of its big-budget Hulu co-production “The First” to resonate with U.K. audiences. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Katz described the Sean Penn-starring drama about a mission to Mars as a “really classy piece [...]

  • Hugh Laurie

    Hugh Laurie to Star in New BBC Thriller 'Roadkill' by David Hare

    Hugh Laurie, the Golden Globe-winning star of “House” and “The Night Manager,” will play a beleaguered politician in a new four-part thriller for the BBC, “Roadkill,” from acclaimed playwright and screenwriter David Hare. The series is being produced by The Forge (“Collateral”). Laurie stars as Peter Laurence, a charismatic Conservative Party government minister who remains [...]

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    ABC News Sets Moderators, Rules for Third Democratic Debate

    ABC News has announced the moderators for the third Democratic debate, as well as the qualification rules. The debate will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12, and will spill over to Friday, Sept. 13 if more than 10 candidates qualify. The moderating team will consist of chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor and [...]

  • James Corden Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

    James Corden Got a Little Help From Paul McCartney on His Drive to the Emmys

    Saying “Baby, I could drive your car” has proven to be a very good strategy for James Corden — never more so than when he put Paul McCartney into the highly sought passenger seat. The primetime special “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney, Live From Liverpool” is a contender in five Emmy categories this year, [...]

  • Starz Logo

    Starz Orders Horror Comedy Pilot 'Shining Vale'

    Starz has put out a pilot order for “Shining Vale,” a horror comedy which hails from “Divorce” creator Sharon Horgan and “Trial & Error” co-creator Jeff Astrof. The prospective series is about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one [...]

  • Bethenny Frankel at the showtime Emmy

    Bethenny Frankel to Exit 'Real Housewives of New York' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bethenny Frankel is stepping away from the “Real Housewives” franchise. Variety has learned exclusively that Frankel is poised to exit Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York” ahead of its upcoming twelfth season. Frankel first joined the acclaimed reality series back when it premiered back in 2008 before exiting the series in 2010 during the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content