Tribeca TV Festival returns, forcing you to break out of your binge-watching bubble

The Tribeca TV Festival really expects us to get off the couch and watch our favorite series in front of other people? Yes. Thousands of other people, actually.

The second annual event returns this weekend to New York City, where there are apparently so many television lovers, the organizers had to relocate from the cinemas of Cinépolis Chelsea to TriBeCa’s Spring Studios.

“There’s such a huge audience out there for television and they don’t always get the opportunity to come together and interact with each other and the creators behind their favorite shows,” says Cara Cusumano, the festival’s programming director. “That’s the model the film festival always embraced, so we felt like this would be a cool opportunity to create events specifically for a TV audience.”

The Tribeca TV fest, organized by the experts behind the nationally recognized Tribeca Film Festival, packs dozens of series premieres and panel chats into a four-day stretch. It kicks off Thursday with a 20th-anniversary panel celebrating “Law & Order: SVU” (6 p.m.) and the season 5 premiere of “Madam Secretary” (8:15 p.m.).

Its other notable screenings will jump out at you on the lineup: the world premiere of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” season 12, chats with “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston and “Luke Cage” actress Rosario Dawson.

“It’s a celebration of everything that’s out there right now, but it’s also about talent discovery and helping new voices break into the industry,” Cusumano says, guiding the conversation toward the lineup’s lesser-known gems like the first-ever independent pilot program.

Open to producers (established and newcomers) across the country, Tribeca accepted submissions through the summer and narrowed down their picks for the best pilot projects.

“I really hope people dig into this and hopefully find their next TV obsession,” she says of the pilot list, which includes screenings of the Silicon Valley script “Valley of the Boom” (Friday, 7:45) and vinyl collector-drama “Deadwax” (Friday, 8:45 p.m.).

Sure, these scripts could play out on a streaming site or try their luck at a major network debut, but the creators of Tribeca feel nothing can beat the in-person experience the fest provides.

“New York City is the epicenter of so much production that bringing (the producers) here and letting them push their work creates such a cross-pollination of new and established talent,” Cusumano says.

Nearly every Tribeca screening is followed by in-person panel chats with the writers, producers and talent involved in creating your classic (or new) fave, which is part of the allure to get off the couch and watch TV on the big screen.

“That’s how most people watch TV now, at home on a TV, on an iPad, largely alone,” Cusumano explains. “We’re strong believers in the community experience of stories. Stories bring people together. And you can’t deny some of the best storytelling right now is happening on screens.”

Tickets for the Tribeca TV Festival are still available and run from $20 to $40 per screening. The full lineup is available at tribecafilm.com.

Program highlights


“Law & Order: SVU” season 20 (Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.)

“Madam Secretary” season 5 (Sept. 20 at 8:15 p.m.)

“Valley of the Boom” season 1 (Sept. 21 at 7:35 p.m.)

“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” season 12 (Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m.)

“Empire” season 5 (Sept. 22 at 3 p.m.)

“Ray Donovan” season 6 (Sept. 23 at 5 p.m.)

“Wayne” season 1 (Sept. 23 at 4:30 p.m.)

Tribeca Talks:

“A Conversation with Bryan Cranston and David Edelstein” (Sept. 22 at 4 p.m.)

“The Journey, Inspired by TUMI, with Rosario Dawson and Laverne Cox” (Sept. 22 at 5:45 p.m.)

“The Real Housewives of New York City” (Sept. 23 at 1 p.m.)

“Ten Years of Shark Tank” (Sept. 23 at 10 p.m.)