Seven must-attend sessions

This year's Banff World Television Festival is so content-rich that narrowing down which sessions to attend might be harder to solve than a murder on CSI. Nonetheless, we've done our investigating, and below present seven must-see events. Too bad you can't set your PVR, because some of the sessions overlap.

This year’s Banff World Television Festival is so content-rich that narrowing down which sessions to attend might be harder to solve than a murder on CSI. Nonetheless, we’ve done our investigating, and below present seven must-see events. Too bad you can’t set your PVR, because some of the sessions overlap.

Master Class: Greg Daniels, executive producer of The Office, interviewed by Entertainment Weekly’s Gillian Flynn
Monday, June 11

In Conversation with Ben Silverman, executive producer, The Office
Tuesday, June 12

Take some tips about adapting hit shows to the North American market back to your own office. Separate one-on-one sessions feature Greg Daniels and Ben Silverman, executive producers of NBC’s The Office, the Americanized nine-to-five mockumentary that originated in the U.K.

Daniels has also written for top comedy programs including Seinfeld and The Simpsons, and is currently executive producing King of the Hill. Gillian Flynn will ask Daniels about the challenges of making edgy comedy for Middle America.

Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Bill Carter will interview Silverman about his work on The Office, Ugly Betty and reality TV shows The Biggest Loser and Date My Mom.

Panel – Big drama, small screen: changing the face of television
Monday, June 11

CTV’s Corner Gas and CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie prove that Canadian scripted TV shows can resonate with audiences. But what makes these shows winners, and what trends are developing around drama, the most expensive and riskiest of program genres? What dramas look most promising next season?
These questions will be debated by Movie Central’s Shelley Gillen, Lifetime Television’s Joey Plager, CBC’s Kirstine Layfield, Lillah McCarthy of TNT/TBS, and Showtime Networks’ Danielle Gelber.

Panel – International broadcast leaders talk trends
Monday, June 11

A global spin has been added to the ‘talk trends’ panel this year, with the addition of panelists from outside of Canada. The big-picture issues remain much the same: new advertising trends, new platforms, consolidation, digitization and fragmentation.

The panelists include Lifetime Entertainment Services president of entertainment Susanne Daniels, ITV plc deputy chair George Russell, Comcast Entertainment Group president Kevin MacLellan, Corus Entertainment president and CEO John Cassaday and CBS Paramount International Television president Armando Nunez Jr.

Panel – Code Green: environmental responsibility in the media
Monday, June 11

Environmental issues have come to the forefront. Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki, American actress and Suzuki fan Daryl Hannah, and Australian scientist and conservationist Tim Flannery (writer-presenter of the Documentary Channel’s The Future Eaters) will discuss what brought climate change issues into the media limelight, and how to keep the environment in the public eye.

They will also discuss whether or not the TV industry should adopt a green code of environmentally friendly practices – a challenge given that millions of analog TVs are destined to be dumped with the conversion to digital by 2011 in Canada.

Doing their part, Banff organizers printed the event’s agenda on recycled paper, and have urged delegates to use carbon-neutral travel options.
The panel moderator is Michael Allder, executive producer of Suzuki’s series The Nature of Things.

Panel – From lonelygirl15 to Bridezilla: the role of user generated content
Tuesday, June 12

New technologies that make it possible for the general public to produce and distribute content – including digital video, blogging, podcasting and mobile phone photography – have created a buzz around user-generated content.
Bridezilla, the YouTube video depicting a woman who goes crazy and cuts off her hair on her wedding day, quickly crossed over to mainstream media, making news when it was revealed that it was part of a viral marketing ad for a shampoo manufacturer.

Panelist Miles Beckett has also made a name in this space as executive producer and director of lonelygirl15, an online serial launched last June focusing on a fictional lead character that many initially believed was real. He will be among the panelists discussing tips on becoming ‘the next big thing’ and turning users into viewers.

The other participants are Claude Galipeau, SVP at Alliance Atlantis, which in March launched the Canadian version of user-generated site blogtv; Peter Bradley, VP of business development at Azureus (which makes the Vuze program that enables content to be distributed via the Internet); and Vicky Taylor, editor of interactivity at BBC Television.

Closing panel – Town Hall Part 2: revisiting the Green Paper on the Future of Television in Canada
Wednesday, June 13

This open-ended forum, in which audience input is being encouraged, will look at the updated version of Nordicity Group’s Green Paper on the Future of Television in Canada, introduced at the close of last year’s event. The paper contends that traditional TV is not destined to die, but that appropriate policy tools need to be developed to deal with an evolving broadcasting system that could see the collapse of the traditional programming value chain.

In the hot seat are Alliance Atlantis Content Group EVP Norm Bolen, CanWest MediaWorks SVP of programming and production Barbara Williams, Telefilm Canada executive director Wayne Clarkson, and Canadian Television Fund president Valerie Creighton.