Japan’s Fuji TV embarks on a new phase of its global ambitions with the release later this year of "The Window", a 10-episode English-language drama billed as "Game of Thrones" meets "Billions" in a human drama that could do for football what "House of Cards" did for politics.
A tall order and a calculated risk for the Japanese commercial broadcaster, which is reshaping and ramping up its involvement in international drama co-production.
A complete departure from anything Fuji TV has been involved in before in terms of budget, scale and language, "The Window" also taps global diversity trends and provides a high-profile platform for Asian talent on both sides of the camera.
"The Window", written by James Payne and directed by Adrian Shergold, is produced by Germany’s Boogie Entertainment and ZDF Enterprises along with Fuji TV and Velvet Films in Belgium. ZDF Enterprises (ZDFE) and Fuji TV are distributing the series internationally.
"The Window", set in the high-stakes transfer window between professional football seasons, stars Samuel Jordan in the story of 17-year-old football wunderkind, Jordan Burdett. What starts out as a tug-of-war between his brother and an agent over his first professional contract evolves into a “bigger, darker story... that goes beyond winning and losing games to explore the full, dark circus of this multi-billion dollar business”.
Japanese actress Yuriri Naka plays Noriko A Sari, an assistant at sports agency Septre and is friends with Jordan’s brother Kieran (played by Tommy Bastow).
German-Korean heartthrob Teo Yoo plays heir Jae Yeon Cho, whose father owns the Manchester Football club and who struggles to show his power and worth to the world.
Both characters appear in all 10 episodes and are part of the core story line.
Apart from the appeal of the script and her character, Naka says she was eager to be part of Fuji TV’s first-ever TV production in English made in collaboration with European production companies. “I hope that it paves the way for more projects like this,” she says.
For Yoo, the son of semi-retired FIFA agent, the series taps into long-held emotional links with football, which he says was the first sport he ever played as a child. “I have a broad knowledge of and interest in the world of football,” he says.
His multi-cultural background also attracted him to a co-production between Asia and Europe, he says.
Fuji TV producer, Yuri Akimoto, highlights the balance of Asian and European cultures in the series. “It’s one of the elements that makes the series unique,” she says.
The full series, with Taka Hayakawa representing Fuji TV, sees the light after a year almost as nailbiting in reality as its fictional plot, with Covid-19 containment measures playing havoc with production schedules.
Eight of the 10 episodes were filmed from October 2019 across multiple locations before pandemic production pauses. The remaining two episodes finished during summer 2020.
The series, born at a Mip TV dinner with Fuji TV and ZDFE a few Mip TV’s ago, is scheduled for release in Autumn 2021.
Fuji TV remains bullish about investing in international projects.
“Co-producing and creating the script with an English hit-maker James Payne was definitely an exciting experience for us,” she says, adding that several new drama co-productions are in the works.
But first, "The Window"...
Sponsored content. Published in ContentAsia eNewsletter 22 February 2021 issue