Forest Whitaker to Star in Epix Crime Drama Godfather of Harlem

Forest Whitaker Epix Godfather of Harlem

Forest Whitaker is about to get mobbed.

The Empire star will headline and executive-produce Godfather of Harlem, a crime drama that Epix ordered straight to series on Wednesday. 

Per the official announcement, Whitaker will play crime boss Bumpy Johnson in the 10-episode series, which is based on real-life events. After spending a decade in prison, Johnson was released in the early 1960s to find that the Italian mob had taken over his neighborhood. He then allied with Malcolm X to fight the Genovese crime family to regain control of the streets.

In a statement, Whitaker said 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.”

Narcos‘ Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein will write and executive-produce; Whitaker also will serve as an EP on the series. Brancato will be showrunner. Production is slated to begin sometime in 2018, and the series is likely to premiere in 2019.

In addition to Empire, Whitaker’s long on-screen resume includes Criminal Minds: Suspect BehaviorThe ShieldER and North and South.