Forest Whitaker to Star in New Series

Godfather of Harlem has been picked up for 10 episodes and at Epix.

The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Forest Whitaker will strain the straight-to-series drama that chronicles the true story of crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned after 10 years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy takes on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X, catching his political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart.

Penning the script are Chris Brancato (Narcos) and Paul Eckstein; the two will also serve as executive producers on the project alongside Whitaker himself. 

“We read the script, and met with Chris, Paul and Forest, and knew immediately that this show was perfect for Epix,” said Michael Wright, president of Epix. “It’s an exciting and relevant story, brought to life by passionate, extraordinary talent and a great studio in ABC Signature. It’s exactly the kind of series we want to put on Epix as we build awareness and expand the network’s distribution across the country.”

Godfather of Harlem is a show with powerful relevance to the issues we face today — gang violence, police brutality, opioid addiction and racial politics in a divided country,” Whitaker said Wednesday in a statement. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to bring this character to life and to work with Michael Wright, the Epix team and ABC Signature, alongside excellent writers and producers.”

Production is set to begin later this year.