Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” trip to North Korea is for a new HBO news magazine series titled VICE that debuts April 5 (produced by Vice Media).
Here’s an excerpt from a January news release describing the show:
VICE, NEWS SERIES FEATURING STARTLING,
GROUNDBREAKING STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD,
DEBUTS THIS SPRING, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
SHANE SMITH HOSTS;
BILL MAHER, SHANE SMITH AND EDDY MORETTI EXECUTIVE PRODUCE;
FAREED ZAKARIA IS A CONSULTANT
The birth rate in a modern industrialized nation falls below replacement rates, in part due to the allure of a massive sexual underground run by organized crime.
A naked warlord leads his nude troops into battle against forces wearing uniforms consisting of T-shirts bearing the likeness of late rapper Tupac Shakur.
A hallucinogen is so powerful that it’s banned by the U.S. government, but is used to cure heroin addicts of their addiction by a witch doctor.
These are the kinds of stories – usually overlooked by mainstream media outlets – that will be presented on VICE, the news magazine series debuting this spring, exclusively on HBO.
And. . .
As Bill Maher notes, “If a show is willing to do a segment on a guy who calls himself General Butt Naked, you have to watch. You can’t go to your grave without having that experience.”
Series consultant Fareed Zakaria observes, “VICE brings a new energy to television. Its stories mix a sense of adventure with compelling, high-quality journalism. The combination will engage a new generation of viewers.”
And here’s what counts as “compelling, high quality” journalism — a trip to North Korea’s top tourist destinations:
NEW YORK, February 26, 2013 – VICE, the Brooklyn-based youth media company, today led a team of “Basketball Diplomats” to Pyongyang, North Korea to engage in a cultural exchange mission. The delegation consists of VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, select members of the Harlem Globetrotters, and a production crew that will be filming for the upcoming HBO series VICE.
The VICE-led delegation arrived in the basketball-crazed city Pyongyang today for a week-long trip that will include running a basketball camp for North Korean children and engaging in community-based games to encourage openness and better relations with the outside world. Additionally, there may be a top-level scrimmage to be attended by Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.
Other activities that will be filmed on the trip for HBO’s VICE series will include visits to national sites and monuments, the Pyongyang Skate Park, and the national animation studio, SEK. The series debuts FRIDAY, APRIL 5 (11:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO.
Shane Smith, VICE Founder and host of the upcoming VICE series on HBO, said, “Is sending the Harlem Globetrotters and Dennis Rodman to the DPRK strange? In a word, yes. But finding common ground on the basketball court is a beautiful thing. These channels of cultural communication might appear untraditional, and perhaps they are, but we think it’s important just to keep the lines open. And if Washington isn’t going to send their Generals then we’ll send our Globetrotters – Cue music – ‘Sweet Georgia Brown.’ ”
You know what I find to be a “beautiful thing?” Food. And I’m sure the millions of starving North Koreans feel the same way. But, hey, comedian Bill Maher and plagiarist Fareed Zakaria say this is compelling, high-quality journalism so who am I to argue.