Shane Smith’s multi-media company Vice enters new territory on April 5 when HBO turns it into a cabler news magazine. Not included in “Vice” the TV show, however, are the nudity and sex that gave the brand its original edginess.
“Nudes and sex are a relic of the past,” Vice’s Eddy Moretti said at the April 2 preem. “We started as a small magazine and grew into a global video channel online. Now we’re concentrating on documentaries.”
HBO’s Richard Plepler prepped the audience at Gotham’s Time Warner Center by praising ‘Vice’ staffers for being “gritty, courageous and daring” in their coverage of human sex trafficking, gun lust and the Taliban’s use of child suicide bombers.
“And they are definitely not Jewish,” added Plepler, who intro’d ‘Vice’ hosts Smith, Thomas Morton and Ryan Duffy at the podium.
At the cocktail party preceding the screening, guest Alexandra Pelosi made light of the TV news magazine’s decision to film Dennis Rodman on a trip to North Korea, which Dan Rather called “more jackass than journalism.”
“I am afraid that ‘Vice’ has started an international incident in North Korea, but as someone who works for HBO it’s not a bad thing. I think Nancy would choose world peace over HBO but I would choose HBO over world peace,” Pelosi said, referring to her mother.
Duffy traveled to North Korea with Rodman and the Globetrotters.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out, including Dennis coming back in future episodes, but that’s not in the plan right now,” said Duffy, who shows off his heavily tattooed arms during the show’s opening episode in the Philippines.
The weekly show is exec produced by Smith, Moretti and Bill Maher, with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria serving as consulting producer.
“‘Vice’ is much cooler than I am. I hope some of their hipster cool will rub off on me,” said Zakaria.
The news magazine surfaced after HBO’s Michael Lombardo arranged a meet-and-greet with “Vice” producers and Maher.
“I’d always been thinking about a show that would complement Bill Maher,” said Lombardo. “When Bill signed on as executive producer, somehow a series emerged.” Regarding the Rodman brouhaha, Lombardo noted, “Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters was a way to get into North Korea. ‘Vice’ is all about gaining entry into places that other news shows can’t get into.”
After the screening, guests dined at the Porter House, where “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft observed, “I’ve been at CBS for 30 years. Guerrilla cinema verite has been done before but hasn’t worked for one reason or another. The one place it can work is HBO because they’re not dependent on ratings.”