HBO Cancels 'Vice News Tonight,' Josh Tyrangiel to Depart (Exclusive)

Vice News Tonight Still - Publicity - Embed 2018
Courtesy of HBO

Former New York Post publisher Jesse Angelo is joining Vice to oversee the news, digital and television divisions.

HBO has canceled Vice News Tonight, putting an end to its seven-year relationship with Vice Media.

The architect of that show, news chief Josh Tyrangiel, will depart Vice this summer after nearly four years of, per a memo he sent to staff, "harrowing challenges and huge highs" with the company.

Amid the changes at Vice News, CEO Nancy Dubuc has tapped Jesse Angelo, the former chairman and CEO of the New York Post, for a newly created role overseeing news, television and digital at Vice. She announced the staffing changes in an email to Vice employees Monday morning. "Jesse is joining us to create expanded platform opportunities and franchises for all our great talent and the content we are making every day," Dubuc wrote in the note, which a Vice spokeswoman shared with THR.

The shake-up comes one year into Dubuc's tenure as CEO. News is among her five focus areas at the company, which also include cable network Viceland and the editorial sites under Vice Digital. Angelo's hiring, she explained, will allow her to strengthen the relationship between those three divisions.

HBO has been the exclusive television home for Vice News, a relationship that has at times proved fraught for both companies, especially when Vice under then-CEO Shane Smith expanded its TV footprint with the 2016 launch of cable channel Viceland. With the end of Vice News Tonight, Vice is expected to look to further grow its news brand with both domestic and international partners. Angelo will be tasked with overseeing that expansion, with Dubuc noting in her memo, "Importantly, his role will really bring to life our ambitions to expand our Vice News global footprint."

Vice News Tonight will end in September when Vice's deal with HBO is up, but Vice is shopping a daily news show to other networks and platforms and is expected to announce a home for the show in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the company is at work on a news-centric show for Hulu that has yet to be announced.

"It's important to remember that Vice News is an entire business division, not just one show on one platform with limited U.S. distribution," Dubuc wrote. "And in a time of media consolidation, this is a business that is growing."

Vice built its bona fides in news with the help of HBO, which in 2013 struck a deal with the new media startup for a weekly newsmagazine series, Vice. The show made headlines in its first season when it sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea. Vice went on to win two Emmys, and it eventually led to an expanded relationship between the two companies that included multiple documentary specials and the 2016 launch of daily news show Vice News Tonight.

The ambitious new project, part of an expansive multiyear deal with HBO, allowed Vice to significantly expand its newsroom, filling it with journalists who would report and produce four half-hour shows each week. The company recruited Tyrangiel, previously editor of Bloomberg's Businessweek, to oversee the creation and execution of the show.

But despite attracting a young audience of over 500,000 viewers per episode, according to data from Nielsen, and winning five News & Documentary Emmys in three years, the show has struggled to break out in a crowded landscape of Trump-era TV news. Its buzziest moment came with its 2017 coverage of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Both companies have also experienced significant leadership changes since they first entered into business with one another. Vice News Tonight was a particular passion project for former HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who left the network this spring following the completion of AT&T's acquisition of the WarnerMedia properties. Bob Greenblatt now oversees the company's combined TV operations, including HBO. Meanwhile, Smith stepped down as Vice CEO in 2018 and installed Dubuc as his replacement.

HBO had already decided not to renew weekly show Vice, and a daily news show began to make less sense for the network as it doubled down on drama and comedy series under its new leadership. "We've had a terrific seven years partnering with Vice Media, first with the weekly news magazine series and most recently with the nightly news show," Nina Rosenstein, executive vp programming at HBO, said in a statement. "We want to particularly thank Josh Tyrangiel for his tireless effort in creating a news show from the ground up, geared for a modern generation of viewers. We are very proud of what Josh and his team accomplished."

The ending of the show offered an opportunity for Tyrangiel to take a step back. He will remain with the company through the end of June and then transition into a consulting role through the remainder of Vice News Tonight's run. "I've loved every minute of it," he wrote of his time at Vice, "but the minutes add up, and I could use a break before contemplating my next thing."

"Josh has assembled an incredibly talented team that delivers the most Emmy-awarded nightly news show on television," Dubuc said in a statement. "As Vice evolves and expands our news offerings, the foundation Josh built will continue to inform our unique approach to telling stories that matter. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavors."

Dubuc has been putting her mark at Vice in recent months, laying off 10 percent of staff in February in an effort to reduce costs and put the company on a path to profitability. She's also made a number of editorial hires, including bringing on Katie Drummond as senior vp digital, and overseen some exits, among them those of Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Smith and Managing Editor Rachel Schallom.

Vice's current news executives will continue to oversee operations with Tyrangiel's departure. They include producers Madeleine Haeringer and Subrata De, who will lead the development of Vice News TV shows, and Vice News Editor-in-Chief Ryan McCarthy. Tyrangiel's direct reports will now report to Angelo, as will Viceland general manager Guy Slattery and newly hired chief digital officer Cory Haik.

Angelo, who will report to Dubuc, will bring his nearly two decades of experience at the Post, most recently running its business as publisher, to his new role. He's expected to focus on building the business of Vice's news, TV and digital groups, including areas such as audience growth and distribution partnerships. His first day at Vice is June 24.