Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center
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Brian To for the Paley Center
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Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center
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Brian To for the Paley Center
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Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center
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In its 35 years, PaleyFest has mastered the ultimate fan experience, bringing together those who love television, with those who create it. Every year around the same time in March, Los Angeles turns into an entertainment Mecca (as if it wasn’t already) inviting attendees for an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars.

The Paley Center for Media’s premier festival, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, celebrates the best in the media industry with special screenings, Q&As, Insta-worthy photo ops and (depending on the theme of the show) some creatively-crafted cocktails.

From March 16-25, fans from all over came donning some top-notch cosplay and big smiles, all sharing the same mission: to think, to laugh and to experience the world of entertainment.

It also didn’t hurt that the 2018 lineup welcomed some of the biggest names from TV’s hottest shows. Actors, comedians, musicians and athletes all showed up to represent, some even blending in with audience members. This year, PaleyFest LA featured the cast and creatives from “The Orville,” “Will & Grace,” “The Handmaid's Tale,” “Silicon Valley,” “Supernatural,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Good Doctor,” “Mom,” “Queen Sugar,” “Riverdale,” “Stranger Things” and even invited guests to spend “An Evening with Barbra Streisand.”

Sneak peeks were had, new cast additions were announced (as were a few musical episodes) and revealing that certain shows would live on to see more seasons had a lot of fans cheering.

These were some of the incredible PaleyFest moments that gave everyone a reason to be excited.

5. “The Big Bang Theory” remembers Stephen Hawking

If there was one thing with Chuck Lorre and cast that was hard to escape on the blue carpet, it was the mention of Stephen Hawking. In its long history, the show has had its share of remarkable guest stars (most recently Bill Gates) but perhaps none as profound as the late, great Stephen Hawking. Executive producer Steve Holland reminisced about the first time Hawking came to set and Simon Helberg actually had to do an impression of him. “Stephen Hawking got this huge smile on his face, he loved it. He had such a good sense of humor about himself.” Executive producer Bill Prady, who recently penned a beautiful article about Hawking in Variety, described to AXS what it was like being at the same table and having a meal with the legendary physicist. “Those were the moments that I played in my head for years; the ones that I can’t stop thinking about,” he said. It all seemed perfectly apropos that on a night spent celebrating “The Big Bang Theory,” everyone wanted to discuss the one person who was thought to have known the most about the subject.

4. “Mom” fans get an extra-special surprise

Aside from the all-star, all-female panel consisting of Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Mimi Kennedy, Beth Hall, Jaime Pressly and co-creator Gemma Baker who showed up to talk comedy, Lea Thompson was also onsite as an unexpected treat. After fans cheered Janney’s return to the Dolby since her newly acquired Oscar, the attention turned to Thompson, who was seated in the audience ready to screen the upcoming episode, “Esta Loca and a Little Klingon,” which she directed. Thompson has now commanded three episodes of “The Goldbergs” and has continued to accrue even more directorial credits in 2018. The CBS show really is a perfect fit for the “Back to the Future” star. It boasts a wonderful blend of drama and comedy, not to mention a lineup of guest stars which include the Emmy and Tony Award-winning Kristin Chenoweth and (in an upcoming episode) GRAMMY-winner Patti LuPone.

3. “Will & Grace” honor Debbie Reynolds

Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes all brought their A game to PaleyFest on March 17, taking the stage with creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick as well as legendary director James Burrows. Fans got to share in the special evening which marked the 20-year anniversary of when the pilot was filmed. They also received the good news that next year the network has called for 18 episodes (instead of 13) and that the show has already been renewed for a third season. At the time, with only two episodes left in the season, the occasion called for a screening of “One Job,” ahead of its March 22 air date. Not only did the audience get a preview that included guest star Alec Baldwin, but longtime fans got something else they had been waiting for – a touching goodbye to Debbie Reynolds. In its first installment, Reynolds of course, starred as Grace’s mom, Bobbi Adler. The cast and the episode honored her beautifully, in way that was both funny and moving.

2. Zoinks! “Supernatural” joins forces with “Scooby-Doo” and takes over PaleyFest

While some fans may have held out hope they’d get to hear Jensen Ackles sing (check out his recent duet with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor covering a ‘Supernatural’ favorite) everyone still got everything they wanted and more when it came to celebrating The CW’s “Supernatural.” Ackles and wife Danneel joined co-stars Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Alexander Calvert, along with executive producers Robert Singer, Andrew Dabb, Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, to premiere the long-awaited “Supernatural”/”Scooby-Doo” crossover episode, appropriately titled, “Scoobynatural.” After Dabb shared with AXS how this one episode was over 16 months in the making, he went on to discuss the “big” ending to the series fans have always pondered. “If you ask me today do I know 100 percent where it all ends, I don’t,” he teased. “But do I know the direction we’re going, I do.” The good news is that fans have no need to worry. After 13 seasons, this crew intends to “Carry On” as long as possible.

1. Barbra Streisand shares some of her favorite “Memories”

On March 16, the festival’s 35th year opened with a special PaleyFest Icon Tribute to Barbra Streisand. “Glee” producer and longtime friend, Ryan Murphy, invited Ms. Streisand on stage for an intimate conversation and a look back at some of her most outstanding moments. Unbelievably, it was first time she had ever been honored for her body of work in television. After the audience welcomed the “Funny Girl” with a “Hello, gorgeous,” footage of performances played with her and Judy Garland, as did clips of her beginning from the early ‘60s appearing in everything from "The Jack Paar Show," to her recent Netflix special, "Barbra: The Music … The Mem'ries … The Magic!" The icon openly discussed battling stage fright and relived some of her favorite moments, like the time she made that surprise appearance during “Coffee Talk” on “Saturday Night Live.” She talked about a new book she’s penning (interestingly enough she happens to currently be on the chapter about TV) and also shared her excitement about Lady Gaga’s remake of “A Star Is Born." In the end, after receiving her Icon Award, the superstar had given the audience everything they could have hoped for; an honest discussion filled with very real moments.

For more on upcoming events at The Paley Center for Media be sure to check out the website.