“Our audience lives in the world of very live, and instant, gratification,” Viceland president Guy Slattery exclusively told Variety. “Being live is also a bit more dangerous and makes us a bit more vulnerable. People are going to see things happening in real time. They’ll be watching the show while we’re making the show.”
“Vice Live” will be hosted by a panel of four up-and-comers: comedian/actress Marie Faustin, Houston-based underground hip-hop artist Fat Tony, comedian/director Sandy Honig, and writer/comedian Zack Fox. But other Vice contributors will also be seen on the show, such as Vice.com’s Dee Nasty, Eve Peyser, Lee Adams, and Taji Ameen.
Viceland has tapped executive producer Jeremy Hutchins (“106 & Park”) and director Joe Perota (“Last Week Tonight,” “The Chris Gethard Show”) to oversee the show, along with Viceland’s Nomi Ernst Leidner (“Gaycation”), Jeff Sammon (“Desus & Mero,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live”) and Catherine Whyte (Viceland’s head of production), who will all also executive produce.
By airing in primetime, Slattery said “Vice Live” will be able to recap the day in pop culture and social media, via a “Vice Guide to Right Now” segment. The show will also include celebrity guests, music performances, host-driven segments, live remotes, and pre-taped content.
“I’m sure it’s going to be very different in six months than when we first come out of the gate,” Slattery said. “The beautiful thing about live is whether things work or don’t work, you put it to bed and you get to start fresh the next day. We’ll get real feedback from the audience.”
That feedback will come via a healthy social media presence both on camera and online. But a small studio audience will also be a part of the show. “Vice Live” will even be set in the lobby in Vice’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn, headquarters, which boasts a fully functional bar (yes, guests and audience members will be served).
“We want to have people come in so it feels like a hang and provides that energy,” Slattery said. Some of the live remotes will also take place from other Vice offices in Los Angeles and around the world.
“Vice Live” fills the void left by Viceland’s previous nightly show, “Desus & Mero,” as those hosts move to Showtime. “We learned a lot doing that show,” Slattery said. “Part of that show’s success was its currency as a daily habit. This is us expanding on that idea. It’s a completely different show. We’re learning what works from our audience.”
One exception to the Vice content on “Vice Live” will be Vice News, which is handled by a different division inside the company. While “Vice Live” may touch on the headlines of the day, it will be about how the culture is responding to it.
“We want to be funny and entertaining,” Slattery said. “Culture is being affected by big political issues and I could see Trump being mentioned from time to time. But we’re not breaking news, we’re covering what people are talking about. Vice News is a separate division that does its own thing. We have a nightly news show on HBO, so news isn’t something we’re interested in doing.”
“Vice Live” might be compared to other past live signature daily shows such as MTV’s “TRL,” G4’s “Attack of the Show,” or FX’s original apartment shows, but Slattery notes that this is longer in format. “We’re not looking at other shows as models, we’re trying to do something different with this,” he said.
In success, the exec said “Vice Live” will both capitalize on existing Vice talent and properties, while also launching new show concepts and ideas into the Vice ecosystem.
“We’re creating a huge amount of content every day across the globe and this is a way to showcase it and tap into it on a daily basis on the channel,” he said. “We’ll develop new IP that we can develop into series and on other platforms. It’s a big showcase for Vice as a whole.”
“Vice Live” will also serve as a marketing platform for other Viceland series, such as “Kentucky Ayahuasca” and “Most Expensivest.” Slattery said the network wouldn’t be cutting back on originals to make room for “Vice Live”; there are 11 new series set to launch this year on the network, he said.
“It’s about doing more, not less,” he said. “We know this is going to be a great platform to promote those other shows.” And when they end their seasons, Slattery hopes to use “Vice Live” as a platform to keep talent from those series in Vice circulation.
Viceland is pulling back on one-off feature documentaries, however, in order to focus more on series content.
As for the hosts, Faustin was named a “New Face of Comedy” at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, and also hosts the podcast “The Unofficial Expert.” Fat Tony (real name: Anthony Lawson Jude Ifeanyichukwu Obiawunaotu) is a Nigerian-American underground hip-hop artist who also hosted and co-created Super Deluxe’s “Thrift Haul with Fat Tony.” Honig’s sketch group, Three Busy Debras, sold out Carnegie Hall in 2016 and recently shot an Adult Swim pilot from Amy Poehler. Fox has performed standup around the country and co-wrote and acted in the horror-comedy “Kuso,” which premiered at Sundance in 2017.
“We had a relationship with all these guys to some degree in the past,” Slattery said. “They all bring something different. We wanted core regulars on the show and then it’s a way for us to bring lots of other talent. We’ll have a revolving door of comedians, musicians, artists, influencers, chefs.”
“Vice Live” also represents the channel’s biggest programming shift since Nancy Dubuc took over as CEO of Vice Media last March. “Nancy really encouraged us to go big,” Slattery said. “That’s very much the Vice DNA, just be brave and get out there. It’s a big swing, and we’re interested to see how people react to it.”