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Drama Awards 2019

Netflix orders samurai doc, prank show

Gaten Matarazzo (centre) in Stranger Things

US streaming giant Netflix has commissioned a documentary about the samurai in Japan and a hidden-camera prank show fronted by one of the stars of Stranger Things.

Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan is produced by Toronto-based Cream Productions for Netflix and pay TV channel Smithsonian Canada, which is owned by Blue Ant Media.

With production currently underway in Japan, Canada and the US, the documentary will tell the story of Date Masamune, a notorious samurai known as the ‘one-eyed dragon’ who fought alongside the three founding fathers of Japan.

Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan is exec produced by David Brady, Kate Harrison, Matt Booi and Simon George, who is also serving as showrunner.

“This drama-doc is truly inspired by Japanese art and noir graphic novels – it’s dark, moody and highly stylised,” said Brady, CEO of Cream. “A real-life Game of Thrones, it is full of divided factions, epic battles and the ultimate quest for power.”

Meanwhile, Prank Encounters is an eight-episode hidden-camera prank show in which two complete strangers will be led to believe they are starting their first day at a new job. Hosted by Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things), the series will launch on Netflix later this year.

The description of the show has provoked criticism of Netflix and Matarazzo on social media, with Twitter users expressing concern that unemployed people will be allowed to think they have a new job only to be pranked and humiliated. Neither Netflix nor the producers have commented on the criticism.

Prank Encounters produced by A+E-backed US prodco Propagate, with Matarazzo, Ben Silverman, Howard T Owens, Kevin Healey and Rob Hyde exec producing. Anthony Gonzalez (Dance Moms, Undercover Boss) is directing.

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