UPDATE: In response to the social media backlash against the premise of Prank Encounters, a Netflix spokesperson issued the following statement: "The pranks in Prank Encounters are spooky, supernatural, and over the top, and everyone had a great time. All participants came in with the expectation this was a one-day, hourly gig and everyone got paid for their time."
Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo is getting his own hidden-camera prank show on Netflix. The 16-year-old actor got his start in the entertainment industry on Broadway shows including Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Les Misérables but is best known for his role as Dustin Henderson on Netflix’s hit show.
When he’s not acting in Stranger Things, Matarazzo raises awareness about cleidocranial dysplasia (CDD), a rare genetic condition he has that affects the development of the bones and teeth. A couple of years ago, he joined forces with a Utah-based doctor to launch a charity called CCD Smiles which supports individuals with the condition by raising money to fund oral surgeries. Along with that, Matarazzo also formed a band called Work in Progress with his siblings Carmen and Sabrina, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone who saw his Motown-inspired performance on The Late Late Show a couple of years ago. The six-piece rock band is about to embark on a tour across the U.S., where they’ll play a mix of original and cover songs.
Now it seems Matarazzo’s schedule is about to get even busier after Deadline reported that Netflix has ordered eight episodes of Prank Encounters, a hidden-camera prank show that Matarazzo will both host and executive produce. The show has been in the works for months and hails from the minds at Propagate, a Los Angeles-based production company co-founded by Ben Silverman (Blood & Treasure, Jane the Virgin) and Howard T. Owens (Charmed, Lore).
Silverman and Owens will executive produce alongside Matarazzo, their Propagate colleague Kevin Healey, and Rob Hyde (Terrence Howard's Fright Club, Troy). Anthony Gonzales, whose previous credits include a stint on the Abby Lee Miller-fronted reality TV series Dance Moms, will direct Prank Encounters. Each episode of the show will take two strangers and dupe them into thinking they’re on the first day of a new job. As their paths collide, however, their jobs will turn into full-on nightmares - albeit hilarious ones.
Prank Encounters is set to launch on Netflix later this year, though a firm premiere date has yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, Matarazzo’s fans can catch him on Netflix when Season 3 of Stranger Things airs in just a few weeks’ time. Read up on Screen Rant’s season 3 trailer breakdown and the most plausible season 3 fan theories in preparation.