How Action Bronson Ended Up Getting High and Watching 'Ancient Aliens'
On-set stories from the producers of the epic new VICELAND series, 'Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens.'
Action Bronson and Friends. Photo: Mike Taing. Images courtesy of VICELAND
The first time that Action Bronson got high and watched Ancient Aliens in front of a camera, VICELAND producer Hannah Gregg didn’t know what to expect. She and executive producer Jordan Kinley knew that getting to broadcast—on cable television—a show that consisted of a rapper watching cult TV, smoking weed, and talking shit with his friends was a little more than a longshot. But after the 4/20 special, Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens aired, Kinley and Gregg were certain they had something unique.
A love for all things experimental, as well as a group of angry Ancient Aliens fans, encouraged Kinley and Gregg to pursue the outrageous, hilarious, and often unexpectedly philosophical series. The third episode of Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens airs this Thursday at 11 PM on VICELAND. The Creators Project sat down with Kinley and Gregg to discuss super expensive bongs, what Ancient Aliens has taught them, and the famous guest appearances on the show.
The Creators Project: So, how did this come about?
Jordan Kinley (JK): We were looking for unique ways to introduce VICELAND to the History Channel Two audience because we were taking over the channel. We found out that Ancient Aliens was Action’s favorite show and we were told if you get Action in a room and he’s allowed to smoke weed and watch Ancient Aliens, you’ll get gold.
Hannah Gregg (HG): I think we were especially interested in it because there were all these people that were really mad that History Channel Two was gone and this was a great way to address their anger in our own way.
JK: A lot of the style of the show came from interstitial content we made originally as a part of Vice Lab, a new department that was charged with innovating the traditional commercial break. That’s why I was always really interested in this show—its an organic evolution of different ideas and techniques we’ve been experimenting for over a year. It’s a show that can only be made right now in 2016 by VICELAND... like, the planets aligned in such a way to birth this beautifully bizarre show.
How much weed do you go through in an episode?
JK: I think the way to quantify is that my favorite thing to do after we’d shot everyday was to walk into the dressing room and there’d be weed discarded like trash on the floor. Someone [would get] frustrated rolling a blunt and just throw it on the floor. At one point, Action and friends started playing football with a giant bag of weed.
HG: There were hay bales of weed rolling by.
What are you most excited for fans to see?
JK: I think that the season finale is a real banger. It's the culmination of the evolution of the series. Earl Sweatshirt is on fire throughout it and Too Short plays "Blow The Whistle," a song very near and dear to my heart, having grown up in the Bay Area.
HG: I don’t think you get to see that many shows where somebody walks on set and we literally will not tell them what they’re supposed to do. You’re watching them authentically figure out what the fuck is going on. Eric Andre said, “What the fuck is this set?” He was like, “It’s truly experimental television.” That was the biggest compliment you could get.
What have you learned about Ancient Aliens?
HG: They love to use pictures of baby alien fetuses.
JK: Seeing these counter-theories presented, you kind of realize that you have an emotional connection to the [original] theories. You feel kind of lost when someone questions the historical narrative you’ve been taught. I don’t believe much of what’s talked about in the original show but I think it’s a good time for people to realize that some of our history is manufactured. Some of it is manufactured to be accurate, and some of it is manufactured to excuse horrible things that have happened.
What do you think you’ll remember 20 years from now?
HG: Melissa Etheridge. She came on and she just told Bronson “I admire you so much because you said this is what I wanna do and then you made a living off of it.” And that just summed up the whole show to me.
JK: I think that deep down everyone is not having fun right now. People are afraid of things, the world’s fucked, no one has any money, and I think that this show is a document of friends having fun.
Watch the third episode of Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens on Thursday August 4th at 11 PM EST.