PASADENA, Calif. — In a clip from Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new variety show “Hit-
RECord on TV” the actor is seen doing back-flips.
The “Inception” and “Don Jon” star has good reason to be excited. Prior to airing the first episode, Pivot, a new network that targets millennials, has picked up a second season of the show. The first episode has already been streamed over half a million times online in advance of its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m.
The half-hour episodes encompass myriad elements including live and recorded music (Gordon-Levitt himself sings, dances, and plays drums, piano, and guitar on the show), live action and animated video clips — many contributed by collaborators solicited through the “HitRECord” creative community founded by Gordon-Levitt and his brother.
Gordon-Levitt spoke with reporters here at the Television Critics Association press tour recently about his hopes for “HitRECord on TV.”
Q. How did you first conceive of the idea of doing an open source variety show?
A. It was [a] gradual and organic evolution. When my brother and I first started HitRECord in 2005, the idea was not to make an open collaborative production company. It was merely that I was making some videos and making some songs and some stories, and I wanted to put them up on the Internet. That’s it. And my brother helped me do that. Slowly but surely, a community sort of sprouted up around this little website that we were running with a simple message board. And what we discovered was much more fun than just talking about the little videos I was making was having all the different people that were joining this message board make stuff together. . . . [in] 2010 [show producer] Jared [Geller] and I said, “Let’s take this collaborative process that’s happening within the community on this website and see if we can do professional level productions with it.” And we worked out a way to do it all legally with the intellectual property laws and do it in such a way that we could pay the artists who would contribute to our productions.
Q. Why did you choose the variety show format?
A. I think it matches my personal taste in a lot of ways. With movies I don’t only like to watch romantic comedies or action movies. With music, I don’t only like to listen to De La Soul or Johnny Cash. I like to listen to all different kinds of music, and “HitRECord” is a way that I can really work on a variety of eclectic things. And that diversity really makes me happy.
Q. Was having this kind of show something you’ve wanted to do?
A. Yeah, I’ve always loved to do it ever since I was really a little kid. When I was 5 years old, I was in a community choir and doing community theater and musicals . . . and that’s what eventually led to me starting to go on auditions and working as an actor when I was a kid. So I’ve always loved music, and I’ve never really wanted to dive into it in a professional way. The traditional record industry never quite appealed to me as a career, but with “HitRECord,” we found a way to indulge and embrace what I like to do.
Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@ globe.com.