TV DINNER: It wasn’t so long ago that “independent television” meant local weirdos with cable access shows. But the explosion of channels and the plummeting cost of digital production have changed all that, to the point where the indie TV community now has its own version of Sundance. The first-ever New York Television Festival kicked off Wednesday night with a party in the Meatpacking District, where the creators and stars of the 26 pilots selected for competition had a chance to schmooze with executives from ABC, A&E and Bravo and editors from TV Guide and Inside TV. The theme was the golden age of television, but perhaps it should have been the golden age of heart disease: the passed hors d’oeuvres included tray after tray of White Castle hamburgers, tater tots, Twinkies and deviled eggs. To dispel the greasy aftertaste, a pair of identical blondes handed out packs of Doublemint gum. A party organizer noted the women were actually triplets; a third sister had stayed home to preserve the conceit.

The pilots screening this weekend include comedies, dramas, reality shows and cartoons. Among the more topical offerings is a sitcom called “Gary: Under Crisis,” about a hapless man who imagines himself the focus of continuous TV coverage. “He’s part of the first generation to have grown up under the influence of 24-hour news, and he processes all his experiences through that scope of sensationalizing the mundane,” said Daniel Klein, who coproduced and codirected “Gary.” Fellow coproducer Josh Roth said the series satirized cable news in general, but with a particular dig at the conservative-leaning Fox News. “The statement is subtle,” he said. “The blue states might appreciate it, but the red states will probably never know.”
— Jeff Bercovici

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