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EPIX Orders 'Godfather of Harlem'

EPIX said it has placed a straight-to-series order for Godfather of Harlem, a 10-episode drama starring Forest Whitaker and produced by ABC Signature Studios. Production will begin later this year and the show is intended to debut in 2019 on the Lionsgate-owned premium network.

Forest Whitaker.

Forest Whitaker.

Showrunner Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein will write and produce, and Whitaker also will executive produce through his company, Significant Productions. 

Per EPIX, Godfather of Harlem is about crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who gets out of prison in the early 1960s and seeks to regain control of his neighborhood streets from the Genovese crime family. He aligns with Malcolm X in a story that "is a collision of the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement during one of the most tumultuous times in American history."

“We read the script, and met with Chris, Paul and Forest, and knew immediately that this show was perfect for EPIX,” EPIX president Michael Wright said in a release. “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.”

Adds ABC Studios president Patrick Moran: "EPIX is the perfect home for the fascinating and timeless story of Bumpy Johnson. We're so appreciative of the unwavering enthusiasm and passion that Michael and his team have brought to the project. Chris and Paul's script is phenomenal and we're thrilled to have Oscar winner Forest Whitaker on board to produce and star."

And says Whitaker: “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. 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.”