It’s official: Bumpy Johnson will return to the streets of Harlem once again. Epix has renewed its crime drama — and “American Gangster” prequel — “Godfather of Harlem” for a second season.
Starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as the infamous gangster and crime boss Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem” takes place in 1963, immediately after Johnson is released from an 11-year stint at Alcatraz. Upon returning to his Harlem neighborhood, Johnson takes on Vincent “Chin” Gigante (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the Italian mob that brought things to shambles and strikes up an alliance with his old friend Malcolm X (Nigél Thatch, reprising the role he played in “Selma”).
Co-created by “Narcos” co-creators Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, “Godfather of Harlem” is described as a series about the “collision of the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.”
“Godfather of Harlem season one was a remarkable success, tripling previous viewership numbers for the network and earning acclaim from both critics and viewers alike,” said Michael Wright, President of Epix. “We couldn’t wait to reunite with Chris, Paul, Forest and the team at ABC Signature to continue telling this compelling and extremely relevant story.”
In his review of the first season, IndieWire’s Tambay Obenson noted the series’ “attempt to detail the real-life complicated relationships that existed between Bumpy and key African-American leaders, who sought to exploit his infamy and reach…Their ambitions and motivations are defined, each on different paths to power, with ideas on how to lead the movement forward in an America that seemingly wasn’t ready for it.“
In addition to starring as the godfather of Harlem, Whitaker serves as an executive producer, alongside Brancato — the series’ showrunner — and Eckstein. Nina Yang Bongiovi, James Acheson, and Markuann Smith are also executive producers on the series, with Grammy Award winner Swizz Beatz serving as executive music producer. Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”), Ilfenesh Hadera (“She’s Gotta Have It”, “Baywatch”), Paul Sorvino (“Goodfellas”), Chazz Palminteri (“A Bronx Tale,” “Modern Family”), Lucy Fry (“Bright,” “Vampire Academy”), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“It Comes at Night,” “Mudbound”) and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy also star in the series.