It's safe to say the first-ever ATX Television Festival was a big ol' success.

The event brought a ton of well-known actors, producers and other Hollywood types to Austin earlier this month.

Among them: Landon Pigg and Mae Whitman from NBC dramedy "Parenthood." It's surprising, Whitman told me, that it has taken this long for someone – in this case, Austinites Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson – to create a festival devoted to TV.

"TV has a weird stigma, but there's been a surge in TV getting good lately," she said. "Amazing actors are doing amazing stuff."

The three-day event felt like an "energetic party," Pigg said. An accomplished musician, he, of course, hit the clubs to soak up Austin's stellar live music scene.

"I got to play with some really amazing musicians," he said. "The quality of musicians here really adds to the appeal. Austin seems like a mix between Los Angeles and Nashville."

Pigg's next album, due out soon, was recorded entirely on his iPhone.

"It's crazy and cool," he said.

The city has an "amazing energy," Whitman said, which made coming to the festival a no-brainer.

"I almost quit acting and moved here to go to school," she said. "I'm a big Austin fan. There's no place like it."

Julie Plec, executive producer of the CW network's "The Vampire Diaries," is another Austin fan. On the weekend before shooting began on the show's next season, Plec spent time checking out downtown hot spots.

"I love it," she said. "I love beer. I love boys. I love queso."

Fans of "The Vampire Diaries" are in for a treat, Plec promised, when new episodes hit the air this fall.

"When all's said and done, it's a show about love and loss," she said. "I love that we can scare people and make them cry at the same time."

The TV biz is an "intense, insane machine," according to Plec, but she can't imagine being in any other line of work.

"It's everything I could wish for," she said. "I'm really happy to be doing this."

Local 'Redneck' on CMT

Jeannie Hunter's a redneck — and she's pretty darn proud of it.

The Marble Falls resident is a contestant on the CMT network's "Redneck Island," a reality show that features — you guessed it — 12 rednecks competing for $100,000.

Hunter, who has been "slinging a shotgun over her shoulder since she was little," was selected from among 10,000 hopefuls who applied to be on the series.

" 'Redneck Island' is a 'Survivor'-style show with a southern twist," Hunter said. "We were expected to do everything from physical endurance-type games like obstacle courses to mental challenges that involved solving puzzles or trivia questions."

When she's not playing "blue-collar games," Hunter runs Hunter and Hunter Inc., an insurance adjusting firm, with her husband, Chad.

Catch a new episode of "Redneck Island" at 9 p.m. today on CMT, Time Warner Cable Channel 70.

Around the dial ...

KEYE's new 5 p.m. newscast debuts Monday. Meanwhile, "We Are Austin Live," which aired at 4 p.m., has been axed. Its last broadcast was Friday. ... KXAN is among the sponsors for this weekend's Formula Expo at the Austin Convention Center. The event, which offers a sneak preview of November's Formula One race, starts at 9 a.m. today and Sunday. Closing time is 7 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 at the door. More details at formulaexpo.com. ... Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.

Contact Gary Dinges at gdinges@statesman.com or 912-5987.