Forest Whitaker to play Godfather of Harlem


Gangster nostalgia is still in great demand. The trailer for Godfather of Harlem shows Forest Whitaker as never seen before.

The old saying goes, “Crime doesn’t pay,” but production studios have found the opposite to be true. Crime pays off handsomely when the story is told correctly. At first, the Italian mobs got the Hollywood treatment. More recently Netflix has given a voice to the illegal elements operating from Latin America. Now, Godfather of Harlem will be the next big crime series to hit television.

The Epix Network’s new drama series Godfather of Harlem will examine the complicated life of Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson. In his time operating in New York, Johnson had a wide range of hustles and acquaintances. Johnson brokered deals with Lucky Luciano at the start of his career and later crossed paths with Malcolm X, who will be played by Nigel Thatch.

Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato teamed with Paul Eckstein to write the series. ABC Signature Studios will produce the series. The Godfather of Harlem will follow Johnson’s ascent in Harlem after his first prison term in Alcatraz. Instead of letting the Italian mob destroy his neighborhood, Johnson forms an organization to fight back.

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That fight for control of the streets led to one of the most brutal eras of New York history. The interest of the various mobs were forced to reckon with the growing civil rights tensions. For Johnson, those interests were not mutually exclusive.

Johnson is prepared to fight for his community, so he says. Mostly, mobsters fight to control their surroundings “by any means necessary” as the trailer so boldly states. After ten years in prison, however, the dynamics of the battlegrounds had changed.

Whitaker’s main foil in Godfather of Harlem is  Vincent D’Onofrio, cast to play Vincent “The Chin” Gigante. Johnson and Gigante both wanted the hold the knife that sliced the pie in the streets of Harlem.

The community wanted civil rights. Johnson gave the gambling and dope, along with a few slices of hope. All gangsters are capable of bold statements, but only a few are able to keep their promises. At the end of the trailer, Whitaker’s Johnson is exclaiming to all that he’s been on the scene for thirty years and planned on being a pillar of the community he created.

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Epix has a strong cast and a strong story. The trailer is promising. The Godfather of Harlem is scheduled to premiere in Fall 2019. The ten-episode series appears to explain the full narrative, from the rise of a kingpin to the greasy spoon heart attack that ended Johnson’s reign.

Are you excited for Godfather of Harlem? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!

Source: Deadline