YouTube Sets Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stay-at-Home Games Shows Amid Pandemic

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Google video streaming service will also launch 'Celebrity Substitute,' for which celebrities and educators come together "to energize distance learning" and new kids and family content.

Google-owned streaming video giant YouTube's YouTube Originals on Wednesday unveiled a new slate of projects "to support, entertain and educate viewers around the world," including some with a coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home theme.

Among them are Celebrity Substitute, for which celebrities and educators come together "to energize distance learning," including Karlie Kloss working through a coding problem and Ken Jeong giving a biology lesson. Additional celebrity substitutes include Bill Nye, Camila Mendes, Janelle Monáe and Terry Crews.

Other new projects include Create Together #WithMe, hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and featuring the creations of everyday people collaborating to make art on HitRecord and YouTube while at home; Stay Home With: YUNGBLUD, which will follow the U.K. recording artist and his band as they adjust to a remote lifestyle while creating music; and The Creator Games Presented by MrBeast, a global live event in which the YouTube creator challenges "the platform's biggest stars to remotely go head-to-head in a first-of-its-kind battle of stay-at-home games where there can be only one winner."

That show will also encourage viewers to donate to support COVID-19-related charitable organizations.

"YouTube's greatest strength is its ability as a global platform to build community and connection among people from all walks of life,” says Susanne Daniels, global head of original content for YouTube. "We're working to develop exciting new original content that is relevant, useful and entertaining in order to deepen those connections and give people an outlet to come together."

Also, as part of YouTube's commitment to families, May will also see the launch of several new kids and family originals on YouTube and YouTube Kids. "These new originals will help inspire kids' curiosity, creativity, resourcefulness and resiliency during these unusual times," the company said. 

Here is a look at some of the other planned originals:

Stream #WithMe (U.K.)
A star-studded crew of some of the U.K.'s most popular YouTube creators and stars "let us in on how they are coping with the lockdown experience in a live-stream celebration of solidarity." The all-star group of creators and celebrities will share tips on how to keep entertained, upbeat and active in the four-hour event that will include unexpected performances and challenges "culminating in an almighty stunt for the nation."

The Secret Life of Lele Pons
"In this raw and intimate five-part series, internet personality and music artist Lele Pons shares a side to her that no one knows about … her lifelong struggle with Tourette syndrome and OCD," YouTube said. 

BookTube — Read With Me special and mental health episode
The monthly book club, BookTube, is planning a special "Read With Me" episode premiering May 21. "Now more than ever, people around the world are turning to books to help them feel connected," YouTube said. "This special episode will feature several celebrities, booktubers, and authors — including Melinda Gates, John Grisham, James Patterson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Nicholas Sparks, Elaine Welteroth and many more — sharing their current book recommendations." Additionally, the June episode of BookTube will feature authors Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. surgeon general, Lori Gottlieb and Haemin Sunim discussing anxiety, mental health and advice for self-care during these uncertain times. 

Locked Down (working title)
YouTube described the shows as "a social media mystery in a social distancing era." The scripted event series, shot entirely via webcam and smartphone, follows a group of bored teens working together online to solve a mystery involving one of their neighbors.