Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come up with a project that is equal parts Ed Sullivan and Ray William Johnson.
The actor and director has launched a new cable series called HitRecord on TV that is something like a modern variety show. Gordon-Levitt acts as emcee, introducing segments that showcase the diverse talents of the show’s participants just like famous variety show hosts of past.
But the show has a modern twist — everything viewers see onscreen, from the music to the stories, has been created by online contributors.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has actually been incubating this idea for close to a decade. Back in 2005, Joseph and his brother launched a collaborative web project called hitRECord that compiled everything from digital shorts to books, DVDs, and even vinyl LPs.
Eventually the contributors started to see some real revenue, albeit small.
“Most of the checks I sign are for a couple hundred bucks,” Gordon-Levitt said. “Some are for much smaller than that. Here’s a couple dollars. As is the case with some of my residual checks.”
There were plenty of difficulties in bringing this project to television screens. For one, producers needed to pay the people who contributed and find a way to hash out any copyright issues in airing work produced in all parts of the globe.
But luckily for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the newly formed network Pivot took a chance on him. The network is launched by Participant Media, which produced An Inconvenient Truth and Syriana, and its programming will focus on social issues.
For Joseph Gordon-Levitt, HitRecord on TV is in a large part a tribute to his brother, who died in 2010. In the first episode, Joseph hikes up his pants to show that he is wearing his brother’s socks, and makes several other small tributes throughout.