Amid the pending fate of its co-parent companyMedia Group, is focusing on its latest season of “Dark Side of the Ring,” and Vice Studios-produced projects recently launched on other platforms, including “American Gladiators” on ESPN, “Bama Rush” at Max, and “100 Days to Indy” at the CW network.
It’s also looking to the future, ordering second seasons of “Dark Side of Comedy” and “Sex Before the Internet” andfor its own cable channel, in addition to moving Vice web series “One Star Reviews” to linear.
As Vice’s president of global TV, Morgan Hertzan, put it, the Vice TV network — which is part owned by A+E Networks — is “very, very busy” right now.
“The parts of the business that I oversee are doing really well,” Hertzan told Variety. “And I have to say, our partners through through the last couple of weeks have been great. We have a great relationship with The CW, we have a great relationship with Tubi, we have a great relationship with SBS. All of our distribution partnerships are continuing, all of our original content partnerships are continuing. Despite some turbulence the last couple of weeks, we’ve actually been doing really well and are excited for the future.”
When Vice Media Group, which is seeking a buyer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 15, Hertzan says he learned “the power of the Vice brand.” “There was a real emotional reaction to the bankruptcy filing because people like what we do, and they care about the brand, and they want to make sure it continues, and we will make sure it continues as well.”
Hertzan says that because Vice TV the cable network is a joint venture between Vice Media Group and A+E Networks, that is why his side of the business is not part of the Chapter 11 filing, though it would get a new co-parent if Vice were sold.
“Vice TV is not part of the bankruptcy, our operations continue as normal,” he said. “We’re ordering shows, we’re on the air, our ad sales are working, we had an extremely highly rated night the other Tuesday. Other parts of Vice Media Group that are part of the Chapter 11 filing are also running as normal. And we’re very appreciative that we have supportive lenders and partners in our lender group. And there’s a sale process going on and we’re excited to see who the owner of us is through that process.”
For now, Hertzan’s focus is on expanding Vice TV’s tried and true formats, with the second seasons of “Dark Side of Comedy” and “Sex Before the Internet.”
According to Hertzan, subjects profiled in “Comedy’s” second season will include Robin Williams, Tracy Morgan and Norm Macdonald, among other comedians.
“We actually put it into development before Season 1 was done airing last fall,” Hertzan said. “So any delay with this is not a traditional production delay. We have those issues, as well, but what we do is we come up with a list of topics and we come up with a list of people that we want to profile and put in the show. And then we have to go check access and that’s the delay. It’s one of the things that makes the ‘Dark Side’ franchise special. A lot of docuseries are what’s called write-arounds. You can find a reporter to talk about the story or somebody who has some tangential connection. As you’ve seen, we actually get primary sources, we get people that live these stories, that were part of these stories — in many cases, the actual subjects themselves sit down and tell us their story.”
“Sex Before the Internet,” which debuted in January on Vice, has been picked up for a second season. Produced by former ABC News president James Goldston and Candle Media, following Goldston’s appointment as head of nonfiction at Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ company, Season 2 will cover “Girls Gone Wild” and the Playboy Channel.
“Again, getting people that were involved in all of these amazing stories to participate is the bedrock of the show,” Hertzan said.
While no premiere dates are set for those seasons yet, we do know one project debuting soon on Vice TV that fans of Vice’s web videos are likely familiar with: “One Star Reviews” hosted by Taji Ameen.
“‘One Star Reviews’ is, in some ways, a very traditional TV format of helping to fix a business, but with a very Vice twist on it,” Hertzan said. “We find that that works well for us, if you find something that people like to watch on TV and then say, how do we Vice-ify it? That’s for us. ‘One Star Reviews’ is ‘Restaurant: Impossible,’ ‘Bar Rescue,’ shows like that, but Vice-ified. And the host Taji goes and finds these establishments that are full of heart, full of hard work, full of people that are trying to make it and says, “Hey, look, you’re getting trashed on the internet. You have a one-star review on Yelp, we got to make this business work for you.” We love the show and it did really well online for us.”