Vice News forms a literary friendship

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Orville Schell on Talking Heads. (Vice)
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Nicole Levy

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It was director Martin Scorsese who brought old and new media outlets together when he suggested that The New York Review of Books meet with Vice Media chief creative officer Eddy Moretti. 

Scorsese has connections to both the literary-intellectual magazine founded in 1963 and the trendy media company launched in 1994: his documentary "The 50-Year Argument" profiles the Review, and his nonprofit, The Film Foundation, has collaborated with Vice on a screening series at a theater in Williamsburg.

But the Review and Vice News need no liason now that they've partnered on a video series that animates Review reportage in the style of David Levine, the late illustrator whose big-headed caricatures are the publication's visual trademark. 

The first episode of "Talking Heads," uploaded last week, features journalist and China scholar Orville Schell discussing his essay in the Review about the shift in U.S.-China relations since President Jimmy Carter established diplomatic ties 35 years ago. The video is no typical Vice News report, set on foreign soil and hosted by a tattooed correspondent: it begins with Schell, dressed in a button-up shirt and slacks, reading his work from the printed magazine and standing in front of a white screen. 

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Review founding editor Robert Silvers, 84, said he thinks of Vice—recently valued at more than $2.5 bilion—as "very adventurous, and very offbeat, and in many ways very useful. For example, their coverage in Ukraine had some very special features that other people didn't." The Review and Vice News crossed paths in Donetsk, where the magazine's Ukraine correspondent, Tim Judah, collaborated with a Vice News reporter. 

Vice News plans to post six more episodes in the "Talking Heads" series to its site, one a month, a Vice spokesperson said in an email. 

As of yet, the collaboration involves no transfer of money between partners, Silvers said. Rather than looking to digital video as a platform ripe for monetization, Silver views Schell's appearance on "Talking Heads" as an extension of the tradition of magazine writers making the media rounds after publishing a big story. 

 

CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated the "Talking Video" heads did not appear on nybooks.com. It can be found here: http://bit.ly/1nrEmDI