Astronauts Wanted’s digital series “HeyUSA” — featuring YouTube stars Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart on a cross-country road trip — will premiere exclusively on Condé Nast Entertainment’s The Scene video site on Oct. 15.
“HeyUSA” follows Helbig and Hart on an eight-week summer trip, visiting cities across America based on fan suggestions via social media to determine what they do and where they go next. The series was created by Billy Parks and Nick Shore of Astronauts Wanted, the digital media joint venture of former CEO of MTV Networks Judy McGrath and Sony Music Entertainment. [UPDATE: The series launched Oct. 15 on The Scene, available here.]
Over the summer, Astronauts Wanted has used fan-generated content to build interest around teaser clips of “HeyUSA,” which have been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube across AW, Helbig and Hart’s channels. The campaign has also generated 3 million engagements across Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In a novel approach, AW created making-of episodes for the series to give fans access to behind-the-scenes footage and bloopers normally reserved for after a series has been aired.
“The Internet is an extremely personal medium and we got to take the concept of having a two-way conversation with our audience to the next level,” Helbig said in a statement. “We spent our summer living out the most adventurous social media experiment I’ve ever been a part of and I’m excited and interested to see how it will continue to shape the relationship we have with our audience.”
Added Hart: “It was super exciting to actually bring fans along with us this summer with HeyUSA, letting them see and respond to our adventures in real time. If I fell off a Segway, I got to hear their reactions (and see dozens of gifs of it) while I still had fresh bruises!”
Astronauts Wanted’s Parks and Shore are executive producing the series with Bleecker Street Entertainment’s Ken Treusch. According to Parks, Helbig and Hart are in the same league with other famous femme comedy duos: “Grace and Mamrie are as true as Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley or Tina and Amy. The amazing relationship with their audience inspired us at AW.”
Helbig’s YouTube comedy series, “ItsGrace,” has attracted 1.8 million subscribers since launching in January 2014. In addition, she recently announced a pilot production deal with the E! News network. Hart is also a comedic actress, writer, and performer who became a YouTube star with her show, “You Deserve a Drink.” In February 2014, Helbig and Hart released their digital film “Camp Takota” with Rockstream.
After premiering on The Scene, “HeyUSA” will subsequently be distributed via CNÉ’s partners including YouTube, AOL, Yahoo, Roku and Dailymotion. Condé Nast on July 16 launched The Scene, which aggregates digital-video content from its own brands, including Glamour, GQ, Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, as well as from partners. (Disclosure: Variety is a content provider partner for The Scene.)
“’HeyUSA’ is a perfect example of the type of engaging, premium programming that will find a home on The Scene and resonate with our audience of influential millennials,” said Whitney Howard, SVP of business development and strategy for Condé Nast Entertainment.