We’re Intrigued by HBO’s VICE

As has been reported on this site  HBO is about to launch a weekly news magazine. It will air Friday nights at 11:00pm ET beginning 04.05.  It will be built in the style of VICE_titlecard VICE.com and will be hosted by the co-founder of VICE Media Shane Smith and executive produced by HBO’s Bill Maher. Since I am intrigued by this venture I thought I’d explore a bit deeper into the project for HBOWatch.

Just what is VICE?  In short, it is a bold and shocking look at news from around the globe. Upon investigating the site, Vice.com, I have come across some interesting items not seen elsewhere. How about headlines like “Female Warriors of Kurdistan” and “The Bible Is Nothing But Fan Fiction For Jesus” or topics like filming at the heart of the civil war in Mali or speaking with those in China battling the one-child policy. There are numerous places the VICE team will go to get the story and they are all chronicled with video. How about “The VICE Guide to Liberia: Teenage Prostitutes, Child Soldiers and Cannibals” or “Bride Kidnapping in Krygyzstan?”  The site, however, is not all hardcore news from far-flung and volatile locales. They also offer their take on Music, Fashion, Travel, Sports and Tech. There is also a magazine on newsstands and now it makes its presence known on HBO. It will be a unique take on the world’s news. A quote straight from VICE.com states  –

” that essentially, the show will be what we do best: a variety of mind-melding stories from around the globe and immersive detours into the scariest, most absurd, and flat out unbelievable cultures and situations around the globe.”

HBO_MichalLombardoHBO Programming President Michael Lombardo [pictured left] has this quote:

“VICE has emerged as a premier new media brand through a savvy combination of irreverence, smarts and fearlessness. We are excited to offer a forum for their groundbreaking style of news coverage and look forward to a show that is like nothing else on TV. “

Clearly, this will also be a unique offering from HBO. This is the first news magazine of its kind for the premium network. The only real news format, and a quite long-lasting one at that, has been REAL SPRORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL which offers sports news once a month. Some may argue that REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, which examines the U.S. political scene, could be construed as a news magazine type show but with its weekly approach to the news in such an irreverent comedic manner it discredits itself as a news magazine. Of course, Bill Maher has never labeled it as such either. Bill Maher will be an executive producer on this series, but the main voice of the series and for VICE is Shane Smith. It was Mr. Smith [pictured below] who sought out HBO. He stated –

“Young people are disenfranchised by traditional media, but they’re voracious consumers of media and content and news. We believe there’s a huge opportunity and a huge audience and we think we’re gonna turn some heads because we’ve got some jaw-dropping stories told in a different way and a lot of people are gonna tune in. We think that HBO is the best network because they allow the most freedom. We can swear and show severed heads, so that’s all good stuff.”ShaneSmith_VICE

I’ve learned to win over the cable network, the VICE team assembled a best-of reel that included stories on North Korean labor camps, Liberia and the gun markets of Pakistan and later produced a pilot that included stories about Afghan suicide bombers and underground heroin clinics. Whether or not the series will include existing clips from the website or shoot all new footage for HBO is unclear. Nor is it certain whether the series will show only the intense news stories from around the world or also show segments on sports and tech, etc. Time will tell as the series unfolds.

Here now are particulars about the first two episodes of VICE.

— Episode #1: “Assassination Nation”: In the Philippines, election season is more like hunting season. Rivals simply rub out their opponents instead of defeating them at the polls. In the 2010 election year alone, more than 100 people were killed due to political violence. VICE follows the cycle of violence in this gun-crazy island nation all the way from an underground factory where illicit weapons are made to the villages full of young men who can’t wait to get their hands on them.killerkids_VICE

“Killer Kids of the Taliban”: In Afghanistan, senior members of the Taliban are now manipulating children and teenagers into carrying out their suicide bombings. They brainwash illiterate kids not well-versed in their own religion, and even fool them into believing they will survive the blast. VICE meets with young kids who were captured before they blew themselves and others up, as well as some of the victims of these tragic bombings.

— Episode #2: “Escape from North Korea”: Thousands of North Koreans cross the border into China illegally every year. Living in perpetual fear of being discovered, with all odds against them, defectors still do everything they can to leave. If arrested in communist Laos, they may be sent back to North Korea to face prison camp or worse. The risks of escaping the North and heading to the South are so great that fewer than 25,000 North Koreans have ever made the journey successfully. VICE joins a South Korean pastor who has developed a modern-day underground railroad to move defectors from China to freedom and eventual citizenship in South Korea.

— “World’s Most Dangerous Border”: The most dangerous place in the world is Kashmir’s line of control, which partially occupies the Indian state and separates India from Pakistan. Observers in both India and Pakistan believe the decades-old conflict between the two nations could potentially lead to the end of the world aswe know it. VICE travels across Pakistan to the contested line of control in Kashmir, pointing out how close a nuclear apocalypse is yet again.


HBOWatch hopes this post stirs your interest in VICE. It appears that each half-hour installment will offer two segments and we will offer a review every weekend after each episode airs.  Who knows, after this first season airs and people are turned on to the exploits of the VICE team maybe, VICE will appear regularly during REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER’s off-season?

HBOWatch is intrigued by HBO’s VICE, are you? Check it out Friday nights and let us know what you think.

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