Star power to push Monaco TV festival

LOS ANGELES: When it comes to film festivals, Cannes is king. Now the neighboring nation of Monaco is waging a PR battle to do for television what France did for the movies.

LOS ANGELES: When it comes to film festivals, Cannes is king. Now the neighboring nation of Monaco is waging a PR battle to do for television what France did for the movies.

"It's the most international gathering of film people from around the world,

said The Lippin Group's Dick Lippin of Cannes. "And that's our goal for Monte Carlo as well."

For years, the city of Monte Carlo has hosted a television market every February, where buyers have purchased rights to shows. However, US distributors have eschewed the event recently, instead attending larger, business-oriented conferences, such as MIPCOM in France. Faced with that decline, Monaco reached out to its honorary ambassador - Law & Order creator and executive producer Dick Wolf - for ideas on how to reinvigorate the event with a focus on glamour rather than deal-making.

The new festival - rescheduled for July, when television actors are on hiatus - seeks to draw Hollywood's creative community, and raise the profile of The Golden Nymph (an international television award similar to the Emmy, which is handed out by the festival).

With the aid of The Lippin Group, Wolf and representatives of Monaco have parlayed their entertainment industry connections into a board for the new event that contains such highfliers as Andrew Lack, president and COO of NBC, Chris Albrecht, head of HBO original programming, and producer Merv Griffin.

Armed with that credibility, Lippin's team has been rounding up celebrity attendees such as Ray Romano, star of Everybody Loves Raymond, to host panels, participate in a celebrity tennis tournament, and draw press - up to 300 journalists are expected.

But it isn't an open call for freebie-seeking talent. The festival is billing itself as a place where "people who are actively involved in production, direction, and writing

will have a chance to mingle with "industry leaders from around the world,

clarified Lippin. He added that the long-term success of the festival will depend on creating an air of exclusivity, which means limiting the number of guests to under 1,000.

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