Formerly known as the annual Variety TV Summit, the event has been rebranded as the inaugural Variety Virtual TV Festival. The expansion to a digital presentation will draw a broader global audience and a wider range of topics over three days. Keynotes and panel discussions will celebrate excellence in TV storytelling and span topics like development, writing, casting, marketing and distribution.
Clinton will speak about “Hillary,” the Hulu documentary series that gives an intimate portrait of her life, and she will be interviewed by Schumer, who is releasing her three-part documentary “Expecting Amy” on HBO Max this July. Prolific TV producer Greg Berlanti will join “All-American” showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll to discuss how they are working with cast and crew during unprecedented series production shutdowns.
Norman Lear will participate in a keynote conversation discussing his recent ABC special “Live In Front of A Studio Audience” with producer Brent Miller and director Pam Fryman.
Other highlights include Meet the Maker panel discussions with cast and producers from the following shows: FX’s “Pose,” with stars Billy Porter, MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross alongside co-executive producer Janet Mock and creator/showrunner Steven Canals; Hulu’s “Normal People” with stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones alongside executive producer/director Lenny Abrahamson, executive producer Ed Guiney and director of photography Suzie LaVelle; and Apple TV’s “Little America” with executive producers Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Gordon, Alan Yang, Sian Heder, Joshuah Bearman and Lee Eisenberg.
Lifetime will host a Behind the Music panel highlighting two original films. “Patsy & Loretta” executive producer/director Callie Khouri and executive producer Neil Meron will be joined by stars Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller. “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” executive producer Dr. Holly Carter and music producer Donald Lawrence will be joined with director Christine Swanson and star Aunjanue Ellis.
Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment and youth brands at ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks will also participate in a keynote conversation. Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, will participate in a spotlight conversation.
Veena Sud, creator of Quibi’s “The Stranger,” and star Dane DeHaan will also be interviewed, and Drew Carey will host an interactive TV trivia session with prizes.
A TV presidents’ roundtable will feature Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment; Jessica Rodriguez, Univision’s president of entertainment and chief marketing officer; Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment; and Michael Thorn, president of entertainment at FOX Entertainment, among other executives.
A reality tastemakers session will feature Padma Lakshmi, host and executive producer of “Top Chef” and “Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi;” Randy Barbato, executive producer of “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” Howard Lee, president and general manager of TLC; and Mona Scott-Young, executive producer of “Love and Hip-Hop.”
The intersection of podcasting and TV storytelling will be discussed in a panel featuring Conal Byrne, president of iHeartMedia Podcast Network; Laura Beil, “Dr. Death” creator; Marci Wiseman, co-head at Blumhouse Television; Donald Albright, co-founder at Tenderfoot TV; and Maria Zuckerman, EVP of Topic Studios.
A streaming programming session will feature Ben Relles, head of innovation at YouTube Originals; Vanessa Guthrie, head of original programming at Snap; Laura Froelich, head of U.S. content partnerships at Twitter; and Michael Aragon, SVP of content at Twitch.
The evening programming of the Virtual TV Fest, will be Variety’s tentpole, “A Night In The Writers’ Room,” featuring panels with this year’s Emmy-contending writers in drama, comedy and limited series/movie categories. Conversations will focus on what goes on in the writers’ room, the process of outlining each season, what it takes to make a breakthrough hit series, challenges from the COVID-19 crisis and more.
The virtual experience is free to attend with registration, but availability is limited. Guests may interact in a series of “rooms” including a lobby, exhibition hall, exhibitor booths and theater. Attendees can network in the “Meet and Greet Lounge” and will receive a virtual gift bag filled with redeemable offerings from leading brands. The first 200 registrants will receive a $20 credit towards a meal delivered by Postmates.
“We are excited to present our first Virtual TV Fest, designed to reach a large global audience,” said Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, group publisher and chief revenue officer at Variety. “The TV Fest will bring together the best talent in television and explore the innovation, trends and programming that keep consumers engaged.”
“A Night in the Writer’s Room” lineup and additional panels will be announced later this week. Sponsors of the festival include ABC, Apple TV Plus, FX, Hulu, iHeart, Lifetime, PBS and Quibi.
To secure your spot in the Variety Virtual TV Festival, register here