New York, NY – June 19, 2018 – Multi-award winning writer-director John Ridley (American Crime) has signed on to direct the first episode of the EPIX® original series, Godfather of Harlem, created by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, starring and executive produced by Oscar® winner Forest Whitaker.
Produced by ABC Signature Studios, the 10-episode series tells the story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s, returned from ten years in prison to find the neighborhood he used to rule in shambles and his power gone. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy has to take on the Five Families to regain control. In order to do so, he enlists the help of radical preacher Malcolm X — catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social and political upheaval. Production will begin later this year with an eye towards a 2019 premiere on EPIX.
Said Michael Wright, President, EPIX, “John Ridley’s incredible body of work speaks for itself, and we’re beyond thrilled to be collaborating with such a brilliant talent to bring this first-rate story to life.”
“John is a great writer/director whose work covers many historical periods, but always with a thoroughly modern sensibility,” said Chris Brancato, executive producer/showrunner. “We’re privileged to have him join the team.”
John Ridley’s critically acclaimed documentary about the Los Angeles uprising, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, premiered in theaters and aired on ABC in 2017 and is currently available on Netflix. He is currently directing the sci-fi romance Needle in a Timestack with Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto, Cynthia Erivo, and Orlando Bloom and is slated to direct an adaptation of his graphic novel series “The American Way” for Blumhouse. Ridley previously won an Oscar® for writing 12 Years A Slave, he wrote and directed the innovative Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side, and was the creator, director, and executive producer of ABC’s Emmy-winning series “American Crime.” His limited series “Guerilla,” with Idris Elba, Freida Pinto, and Babou Ceesay, aired last year on Showtime and Sky.
Ridley is represented by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Rohner Walerstein.
Godfather of Harlem is executive produced by Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi along with Paul Eckstein, James Acheson and Markuann Smith. Chris Brancato will serve as showrunner.
ABOUT ABC SIGNATURE STUDIOS
ABC Signature Studios is a division of ABC Studios spearheading development and production in all cable and streaming platforms. The artist-driven arm provides a year-round destination for development and production across the cable and streaming landscape. Signature recently received a straight-to-series order from EPIX for “Godfather of Harlem,” created by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, with Forest Whitaker set to star and produce. Signature and Hello Sunshine received a straight-to-series order from Hulu for the event limited series, “Little Fires Everywhere,” with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington attached to star and produce. Signature’s new series include “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger,” a co-production with Marvel Television; along with the comedy “Besties,” from Kenya Barris, for Freeform; as well as Amblin TV and ABC Signature’s “All About the Washingtons” for Netflix. These projects join a robust slate of returning series, including the critically acclaimed comedy “SMILF” for Showtime; “grown-ish” for Freeform; and “Marvel’s Runaways” for Hulu, a co-production with Marvel Television.
EPIX, an MGM company, is a premium pay television network, delivering the latest movie releases and biggest classic film franchises, plus original programming including series, documentaries, and comedy specials – all available on TV, on demand, online and across devices. Launched in October 2009, EPIX became profitable in its first year of existence and is now available nationwide to 70 million homes through cable, telco, satellite and emerging digital distribution platforms. A pioneer in the development and proliferation of “TV Everywhere,” EPIX was the first premium network to provide multi-platform access to its content online at EPIX.com and to launch on Xbox, PlayStation®, Android phones and tablets, and Roku® players. EPIX is also available across hundreds of consumer devices including Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, Amazon Fire TV, TiVo, Chromecast, and Android TV, delivering more movies than any other network with thousands of titles available for streaming. For more information about EPIX, go to www.EPIX.com. Follow EPIX on Twitter @EpixHd (http://www.twitter.com/EpixHD) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EPIX), YouTube (http://youtube.com/EPIX), Instagram (http://instagram.com/EPIX) and Snapchat @EPIXTV.