Viceland se­ries by LR-born film­mak­ers de­buts

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST / TELEVISION - The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email mstorey@arkansason­line.com

In a TV land­scape filled with va­pid re­al­ity of­fer­ings and friv­o­lous, high-deci­bel game shows, it’s re­fresh­ing to find an oa­sis of se­ri­ous, thought-pro­vok­ing, in­spir­ing pro­gram­ming.

These are in­tel­li­gent shows de­signed for dis­cern­ing view­ers. A ster­ling ex­am­ple from film­mak­ing brothers and Lit­tle Rock na­tives Brent and Craig Re­naud de­buts on Viceland at 9 p.m. to­day.

Never heard of Viceland? See the in­for­ma­tion at the end of to­day’s col­umn.

The brothers’ Last Chance High is an eight-part se­ries that was adapted and up­dated from the award-win­ning 2014 Vice News web se­ries that fo­cused on the stu­dents at Chicago’s Moses Mon­te­fiore Acad­emy. The ther­a­peu­tic school served the most trou­bled youths on the city’s West Side — kids who had been kicked out of ev­ery­where else.

Viceland pub­li­cist Perri Co­hen says, “The orig­i­nal se­ries fol­lowed the staff as they strug­gled to keep stu­dents in school and off of the streets. But when the city closes Mon­te­fiore, stu­dents are quickly en­gulfed by street life while former staff mem­bers do ev­ery­thing they can to save their lives.

“The ex­panded and up­dated episodes pick up in 2016 as the school is clos­ing amid Chicago’s most vi­o­lent pe­riod in 20 years, fol­low­ing up on the teach­ers as they re­con­nect and at­tempt to reach out to their former stu­dents and save them from the streets.”

Last Chance High won the pres­ti­gious Pe­abody Award, as well as a Golden Ea­gle and Webby Award. It was also an Emmy and IDA Award nom­i­nee.

At the 2014 Pe­abody Award cer­e­mony, Brent said, “Last Chance High is about what we feel is a se­verely un­der­re­ported cor­re­la­tion be­tween men­tal and be­hav­ioral dis­or­ders and the tragedy of youth vi­o­lence.”

Over the past decade, the Re­naud brothers have cov­ered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Film­mak­ers Craig (left) and Brent Re­naud (shown in 2013) have a new se­ries de­but­ing to­day on ca­ble’s Viceland Chan­nel. the 2010 Haitian earth­quake, tur­moil in Egypt and Libya and car­tel vi­o­lence in Mex­ico.

Off to War, about the 39th Brigade of the Arkansas Na­tional Guard in Iraq, was es­pe­cially mov­ing for me. It won an IDA Award for best TV se­ries, an Over­seas Press Club Award, and was nom­i­nated for a Direc­tor’s Guild of Amer­ica Award.

The brothers co-founded the Lit­tle Rock Film Fes­ti­val in 2007, which ran for nine years.

About their work, Brent said in Cu­ra­tor Mag­a­zine, “We hope that the time we put into the films trans­lates to the viewer hav­ing a more com­plex un­der­stand­ing of a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject or is­sue. We don’t make po­lit­i­cal films, or ac­tivist films, but we do want our work to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Find out more about the brothers’ work at their web­site re­naud­broth­ers.com.

More in­for­ma­tion on Last Chance High and other Viceland pro­grams is avail­able at viceland.com.

What Would Di­plo Do?, 9 p.m. Thurs­day on Viceland. As long as we’re in the neigh­bor­hood, you may want to check out Viceland’s first ex­per­i­ment with an orig­i­nal scripted se­ries.

What Would Di­plo Do? is a TV-14 half-hour com­edy/ drama star­ring 40-year-old James Van Der Beek, who is still seek­ing a proper come­back ve­hi­cle from his glory days of Daw­son’s Creek when he was 21.

In his new show, Van Der Beek plays a fic­tion­al­ized ver­sion of “world-fa­mous in­ter­na­tional su­per­star DJ, rap­per, singer, song­writer and record ex­ec­u­tive Di­plo” (real name Thomas Wesley Pentz).

Dip­who? I’ve never heard of Di­plo, but this show is aimed at hip young peo­ple, not me. I asked two young co-work­ers nearby and they were well aware of Di­plo and his world-fa­mous work.

“He dated Katy Perry,” one added. Join­ing that long, distin­guished list that in­cludes mu­si­cian John Mayer and ac­tors Or­lando Bloom and ex­hubby Rus­sell Brand is cer­tainly wor­thy of world­wide no­to­ri­ety.

What’s Viceland? Viceland is a new TV chan­nel op­er­ated by Vice Me­dia in part­ner­ship with A&E Net­works “with a fo­cus on life­style-ori­ented doc­u­men­tary and re­al­ity se­ries aimed to­ward mil­len­ni­als, [fea­tur­ing] new orig­i­nal se­ries, along with adap­ta­tions of and re­runs of ex­ist­ing Vice web se­ries.”

How do you find it? Viceland is one of those niche chan­nels way up in the nose­bleed sec­tion of the dig­i­tal dial. Go to the web­site viceland.com and plug in your ZIP code to see if your ca­ble provider car­ries it.

But dou­ble check your list­ings. I found at least one that Viceland had in­cor­rect.

For those who have cut the ca­ble, Viceland has an app for Ap­ple TV, and mo­bile apps for iOS and Android. Full episodes can also be down­loaded on iTunes, Roku and Sling TV.

Some episodes are avail­able for free on viceland.com. You can also fol­low Viceland on Twit­ter, Face­book and YouTube.

MICHAEL STOREY

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