HBO's 'VICE' has its virtues

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HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" has long been a favorite with grown-ups bored by traditional newscasts. Now the network reinvents the newsmagazine with "VICE," a no-holds-barred weekly series for a tech-saturated generation. It premieres Friday, April 5.

Created by the international youth-oriented media conglomerate also named VICE and executive produced by Maher, "VICE" takes viewers on a harrowing, sometimes hilarious journey to the far corners of the globe in search of jaw-dropping tales untouched by mainstream news outlets.

"Eventually it became clear that the stories we did best, that we liked the best, involved this process we call immersionism -- a documentary style where we just go in and live with the people, press record and watch as the story unfolds," says VICE co-founder Shane Smith, who heads into the field with fellow correspondents Ryan Duffy and Thomas Morton to explore stories as wide-ranging as the Taliban's recruitment of children as suicide bombers and a West African fat camp where the goal is to pack on the pounds.

The crew also facilitated the recent "basketball diplomacy" mission of former NBA star Dennis Rodman and three members of the Harlem Globetrotters into North Korea, where Rodman infamously told the country's mercurial leader, Kim Jong-un, that he had a friend for life.

This clearly isn't your grandma's newsmagazine, but Smith says there's no reason it can't be. "I don't think you have to be young to be concerned about Pakistan and India or to worry about the rise of youth-oriented fascist movements in Europe," he tells Zap2it.

Adding to the show's serious news cred: Time magazine editor at large Fareed Zakaria consults on it. But, says Maher, its sense of adventure and whole-world view are the primary reasons everyone should pick up this "VICE."

"If a show is willing to do a segment on a guy who calls himself General Butt Naked, you have to watch," says Maher of the honest-to-badness Liberian warlord. "You can't go to your grave without having that experience."
Photo/Video credit: HBO