Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been giving a platform to writers, musicians and illustrators through the website HitRecord.org since 2010. Now he's taking the concept to TV.
The Looper and Inception actor, who recently directed and starred in the film Don Jon, will be hosting a new series called HitRecord on TV, which premieres on the cable channel Pivot at 10 p.m. EST on January 18th. (The whole first episode is already on YouTube.) The variety show uses crowd-sourced writing, acting, music and animation by hundreds of thousands of contributors to create vignettes that address specific themes.
In the case of the first episode, the theme is "The Number One," and it showcases the work of 426 contributors. It includes a personal story, featuring actress Elle Fanning, about a woman with night blindness whose father found an innovative way to help her see the stars; an investigation into giant single organisms like Utah's Pando Forest and Oregon's destructive "humungous fungus"; and a cartoon about musicians creating "One Song." Over the course of its 23 minutes, host Gordon-Levitt maintains his usual upbeat, affable mien as he introduces each of the segments and praises the contributors. At the end of the show, he sings and plays the piano on a song about loneliness called "You're Not the Only One," which he and the site's users composed from bits and pieces of several contributions. He asked two users to join him onstage for the number.
In total, Gordon-Levitt and his producers have planned eight episodes of the show. Themes will include space, "the other side" and money. Pivot will premiere back-to-back episodes of the series, including "The Number One," on January 18th.
Gordon-Levitt began filming "hitRECord" segments with his older brother, Dan, in 2005. Five years later, the brothers launched HitRecord.org, which opened up their concept to online users worldwide. (Dan died in 2010, and Gordon-Levitt paid tribute to him on HitRecord on TV by wearing his brother's Kermit and Converse socks.) Since the site's launch, HitRecord has screened films from the site at Sundance, released books and albums and gone on tour. "It's all been leading up to this," Gordon-Levitt said in the intro to the show.
"I'm deeply proud of this show, and I think you're realllllly gonna like it," the actor wrote in an introduction to the show on YouTube. "Honestly, making this thing together with all the artists from around the world in our HitRecord community has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life so far."
Watch the first episode here: