Jeremy Sisto ("FBI," "Law & Order") will receive an award Saturday from the North Fork TV Festival — but as far as awards or at least festivals go, this one just might be unprecedented. Sitting on a stage in a field at the Castello di Borghese Vineyard in Cutchogue, the actor will receive the Canopy Award — before an audience of 150 cars.
"It could be surreal," he said by phone recently, "or if it's like [the 2006 Pixar movie] 'Cars,' really funny."
When organizers of the festival, usually held late October in nearby Greenport, decided to move forward this year, the drive-in concept seemed like an obvious choice, with complications.
Because the festival has to adhere to Phase 4 reopening guidelines, those vehicles must be set 6 feet apart, while masks are required for attendees as well as Sisto. News 12 Long Island’s Elisa DiStefano will moderate an audience Q&A with Sisto via Twitter, and News 12 will air a 90-minute special on the festival on Nov. 7.
Noah Doyle, co-founder of the 5-year-old independent TV festival, said Thursday attendees also are required to stay in their vehicles except for bathroom breaks, while "food can be ordered by phone [and] volunteers will deliver it to their space." A giant TV monitor will be onstage.
Sisto, 46, was selected for this year's Canopy (Kelsey Grammer was last year's recipient) because he "fits in with that long line of actors who are really committed to the New York production scene," said Doyle. "We're honored we'll be able to honor him."
Sisto — "FBI's" Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine — said, "I've spent a lot of time at film festivals [because] they're a big part of the business and provide a sense of a place where you can go to be inspired about the art of filmmaking, which you sometimes lose track of."
Sisto added that "from what I understand [of the NFTV], they do things to support filmmakers who want to take a risk and make a show that might not necessarily get picked up [by a network]. But there are certain things that really need to be seen to be able to find an audience, so you need groups like this that are supportive of the creative process in a way that's not necessarily connected to profitability."
He added this will be his first visit to the North Fork: "This gives me a chance to check it out. I hear it's really beautiful."
Doyle said "about" a dozen spaces remained for the festival, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect last name for Noah Doyle.