• Blue's Clues provides educational TV programming for children.
  • Nickelodeon's WholeKidsTogether initiative is providing extra content and activities for kids to help them during the pandemic.
  • The soon-to-be launched Blue's Clues and You Bedtime Stories podcast is designed to help ease kids' stress and anxiety and soothe them to sleep. 

Video Transcript

JOHN WHYTE: You're watching "Coronavirus in Context." I'm Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD. Today, we have a very special guest, Josh Dela Cruz, who is the star of Nickelodeon's "Blue's Clues." Josh, thanks for joining me.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Hi. Thanks for having me, John.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, you know, parents are trying to balance a lot of competing interests, trying to work, trying to manage online learning. And for younger kids, we're often looking for educational program. So how do shows like "Blue's Clues" help parents who often are really trying to find, how do we best, you know, manage our time during the day?

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Yeah. You know, it's-- it's-- it's really funny. It's interesting. Because especially today, there is no lack of content for kids. Now-- but there is a lack of content of quality programming that is educationally based. And in our case, when we-- when we first premiered in 1996 with the original show, "Blue's Clues"--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: --everything in that show, from the games to the dialogue to the pedagogy of how we-- how we approach the games came from our childhood early developmental research team. So everything comes from research and is-- is meant to help kids learn and prepare them for preschool and beyond.

And so we live in a generation-- we live in a time where reboots and remakes are-- are happening every day. But the reason our show came back was because there was still a need for it. And that's-- this is over 20-- I want to say close to 25 if not 25 years since we first premiered.

We came back because there was a need for it. And there's-- the kids that grew up watching our show are now parents. And so there's an-- an incredible opportunity to co-view our show and have parents share a piece of their childhood while their child is now learning these skills and these lessons and these-- these processes of how to-- how to come about an answer.

And-- so it's a really, really cool thing that were able to provide today. Um, especially because there's so much content. The thing about our show is parents know "Blue's Clues" is going to be quality, educational programming. So they can sit back and worry about the other things that they-- you know, this is one less thing that they need to worry about.

And because our entire season is out now, um, you know, we have 20 episodes for them not to worry about.

JOHN WHYTE: OK, good, good.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Yeah.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, how has the pandemic impacted your show? You're filming via Zoom remotely, or what, like we are today? What-- what-- what are you doing?

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Well thankfully, our show has been-- is wrapped. So we finished shooting season two, I want to say, end of January. And I flew back, um, February 2 or something like that. Uh, so the live action is filmed.

And luckily, now the animation process begins. And a lot of animation where it can be done at home, or if not, they can go into the office and, according to how-- however many people are allowed to be in the building at that time.

But thankfully, our live action process is done. And we've actually started beginning work on season three. So we have been doing Zoom calls for table reads of episodes. And on top of that, we've been filming some content at home here. Because I have some camera knowledge and my wife has been acting as the line producer, director, makeup, artist or j-- like all of that--

JOHN WHYTE: There you go.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: --while I do my one job. [LAUGHS] So things have slowed down. And we don't know when season three filming will begin again. But, um, so far, full steam ahead. And season two should be arriving on time, hopefully.

JOHN WHYTE: Do parents reach out to you? Do you hear from kids and their parents about COVID and the stress associated with-- with staying at home?

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Yeah, yeah. You know, I-- luckily, our show exists to kind of have that, um-- that break, like I was saying, where parents and kids can just sit back and not worry about the thing that's happening and that's affecting us all.

But yeah, my-- uh, my makeup artist-- our makeup artist on the show, her niece and her-- uh, her niece's best friend was starting to have like-- started to get panic attacks and anxiety attacks, just because they couldn't see each other every day. And they don't quite understand and what's happening.

So I know that it is hanging heavy on lots of kids' hearts. And I know that my nephew loves going to school. And he doesn't understand why he can't go to school.

And so I can't imagine how scary it must be for them. Um, you know, I only hope that, with our show being around and with the things that Nickelodeon is doing-- they're doing a whole KidsTogether initiative by creating extra content directed at kids, so whether it be social content, activities, things that they can download to help them in this time of-- this strange time filled with anxiety and stress, that they might not be able to process.

JOHN WHYTE: So Josh, what are some "Blue's Clues" inspired activities that parents can use while we're inside with our kids?

JOSH DELA CRUZ: So we have this amazing podcast that's going to be coming out. It's called "Blue's Clues" and you bedtime stories. And they're 10 episodes where our kids can listen to adventures that Blue is taking inside a storybook. So we actually skidoo into a story book.

And as the story goes, the story gets sleepier and sleepier and sleepier, into this really relaxing place. And these stories are so fun. And they're so well done. Our-- our-- our director and sound designers are creating this really beautiful and-- and vivid world that we can listen to and to take us into sleep. So it's a really cool thing, that, um, I'm looking forward to parents and kids, uh, getting to listen to.

On top of that, we have "Blue's Clues & You!" virtual play dates that we just filmed. So my wife and I, we actually filmed everything here. And our animation team animated Blue in. And they're fun activities like dance parties. We do science experiments. We do storytimes.

It's a really-- it's a lot of fun. And it's new material. And since, I think, March 18, Nickelodeon launched a KidsTogether initiative where characters like "SpongeBob" and "Blue's Clues" and the "Bubble Guppies" are just putting out extra content, like the virtual playdates, that are directly geared toward kids, for kids during this specific time. So it's an-- it's an amazing thing that so much is coming out just for kids.

JOHN WHYTE: Let's talk in our last few minutes a little bit about how we help kids cope. You know, one of the ways to deal with stress is to adapt new routines or new hobbies. Any new routines or hobbies for you?

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Yes. I, um-- so what I've been doing is I have been writing. Uh, I remember when I was a kid, I used to love writing children's books. Um, and I feel like I only ever really wrote one. But I did a lot of illustrations for, uh-- for books in my head. I thought that I wanted to be an illustrator when I was really young. So what I've started doing now and my wife and I have been doing, we've been writing either short stories or scripts or trying to, uh-- to world build, as it were.

And I think it's-- it's been a great way to get in touch with my, uh, imagination, you know, that-- that imagination that you have as a kid, where you're not filtering anything out. You're not thinking anything is too silly. Like, you're just dreaming. And so that has been a really wonderful thing, especially because we're so, uh-- we're stuck indoors, and we feel-- so we can feel trapped, that our imaginations and our minds don't feel trapped.

So I find that to be very, very helpful. Uh, and I hope that, you know, um, we don't lose the love to tell stories and the love to imagine in-- in these un-- uncertain times.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, Josh, I want to thank you for taking the time to join us.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Thank you so much, John. This is wonderful.