Richard Plepler on the Importance of Honoring Our Veterans
By Ana Villarreal
Tomorrow our nation remembers the brave men and women who have risked and given their lives to protect our country. This year, HBO is honoring these individuals on Veterans Day with The Concert for Valor, a live event bringing artists, celebrities and Americans together to recognize the courage and sacrifice of our country’s veterans. Chairman and CEO of HBO Richard Plepler took time to discuss the unique event and its significance in advance of the star-studded event.
We understand that you are very passionate about The Concert for Valor and what it represents. Do you have a personal connection?
Since I’ve been at the company, HBO has established a long history of doing extraordinary programming that has focused on the heroic contributions of the men and women in the armed forces. My boss, Jeff Bewkes, gave the go-ahead to Band of Brothers years ago and my predecessor, Bill Nelson, a proud Vietnam War veteran, had encouraged us to continue finding stories that resonated. There have been original movies Taking Chance and Tuskegee Airmen, other miniseries like Generation Kill and The Pacific and documentaries such as Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq, Wartorn 1861-2010, Baghdad ER, Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 and The Last Patrol, among many others. Several of these programs had screenings at the White House and one had a rare screening at the Pentagon where we developed good relationships with the top brass.
How did the idea for this event come about?
With many of our troops returning home, it felt like the time was right to organize a national event to show our appreciation as a nation and bring awareness to their plight as they integrate back into society. And Veterans Day was the natural time to do such an event.
Why was it important for you to open-up the feed of the event to non-HBO affiliates?
Over our history, we have selectively offered our distributors the opportunity of opening up the HBO feed for programming events that warranted broader attention. And I can’t think of a better cause than this one.
The talent performing and participating in the concert is very diverse. How were you able to get so many recognized stars from across the spectrum to participate?
I must tip my hat to all the performers who agreed to be part of this concert. For a concert of this magnitude, performers are often booked close to a year in advance. In this case, we only had a few months notice and yet these top musical acts and performers all felt committed to making the time to lend their support to our troops. Great kudos to Nina Rosenstein at HBO and the great Gary Goetzman of Playtone for putting this all together so quickly.
Why do you think events like The Concert for Valor are particularly important on Veterans Day?
On this national holiday, in cities and towns across the country, Americans are standing tall to celebrate the service of all military veterans. The concert that night, carried live across the country, is the culmination of that day and will further unite everyone in an emotional and entertaining tribute to the men and women who serve us. I think it will be a deeply moving experience for those that are fortunate enough to be there and for those who can’t watch it on HBO.
What can we expect during The Concert for Valor?
You can expect a very memorable night on the National Mall in Washington DC with poignant vignettes, powerful tributes from renowned guests and a strong mix of music by top artists in so many different genres.
How does The Concert for Valor, and the role of other musical events fit into HBO’s overall playbook and strategy?
HBO has been the home for the highest quality programming in so many areas, including concert events. In fact, just this past year alone we presented Beyonce and Jay-Z’s concert live from Paris and the star-studded Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert event. What is especially satisfying about The Concert for Valor is that it will not only be a great night of entertainment but will also serve a higher purpose by bringing awareness and support for our service men and women for their immeasurable sacrifice.
Be sure to tune into The Concert for Valor tomorrow evening, live at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT. Watch a preview of the event below.