On Monday, Vice’s new cable channel, Viceland, flips the switch.
And it will kick off with: 13 hours of footage of executives listening to voicemails from would-be viewers.
“Turning these voicemails into the first 13 hours of our channel wasn’t intentional,” said filmmaker Spike Jonze, Viceland’s co-president, to the Associated Press’ David Bauder. “It just happened when we realized how interesting these voicemails were.”
Probably only Viceland — led by the likes of Oscar-winner Jonze and CEO Shane Smith — has the cajones to commit to such a start.
But rarely does Smith do something that doesn’t come with a side of brash. Vice was born as a Canadian punk rock magazine, reports Bauder, that Smith grew into a $4 billion entertainment company. Its most well-known for its millennial-targeted news show, Vice, which airs on HBO. Viceland, which is taking over for A+E Networks’ H2, is like that show on steroids.
It’s also reticent of former Vice President Al Gore’s crowd-sourced network, Current, which ultimately became Al Jazeera America, which is soon to fade to black. But Gore had a few things going against him: he wasn’t a programmer and social media hadn’t really started. As they say: Timing is everything.
Among Viceland’s offerings, besides voicemails from people talking about what keeps them up at night or what they do if they were president, are Ellen Page’s Gaycation, in which the actress and her friend Ian Daniel travel around the world to experience gay and lesbian cultures in different countries, and F*ck That’s Delicious, featuring rapper Action Bronson trying food in cities where he’s touring. Other shows are Weediquette, which digs into the burgeoning legal marijuana industry; Flophouse, a sort of reality show about aspiring comics living and performing together; and Balls Deep, a jump into interesting subcultures.
While Smith, Jonze and Vice Co-President Eddy Moretti are all overseeing the venture, A+E Networks’ Guy Slattery (also a PromaxBDA board member) will be running the show day to day as general manager.
“We’re just starting,” Jonze told the AP’s Bauder. “We don’t exactly know what we’re doing and we’re learning as we go. None of us have ever created anything like this before. That’s what makes it exciting for me personally, that I don’t know how to do this. It’s the way I’ve always worked and the company has always worked. We don’t hire someone who knows how to do it; we go and figure it out ourselves.”
Read more: The AP via The Seattle Times
[Image courtesy of The Seattle Times]