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Forest Whitaker to star in Epix mobster series

MGM-owned cable channel Epix has given a straight-to-series order for ABC Signature Studios-produced drama, Godfather of Harlem, which will star Oscar winner Forest Whitaker.

Written by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, the ten-episode series tells the true story of crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from ten years in prison to find the neighbourhood he once ruled in shambles.

With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy takes on a Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X – catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart.

Epix president Michael Wright said: “We read the script, and met with Chris, Paul and Forest, and knew this show was perfect for Epix. It’s an exciting and relevant story, brought to life by passionate, extraordinary talent and a great studio. It’s 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,” added Whitaker, “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, Epix and ABC Signature, alongside excellent writers and producers.”