Godfather of Harlem documentary series coming to EPIX

Forest Whitaker in Godfather of Harlem. (Photo Credit: David Lee/Courtesy of EPIX.)
Forest Whitaker in Godfather of Harlem. (Photo Credit: David Lee/Courtesy of EPIX.) /

Godfather of Harlem docu-series will tell the show’s true story.

Godfather of Harlem is a critically acclaimed hit for EPIX, and now the network is producing a companion documentary series.

By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem will be a four-part series that, according to the network’s press release, “brings alive the dramatic true story of Harlem and its music during the 1960’s, and connects that history to our present moment.”

The show’s star Forest Whitaker is one of the docu-show’s executive producers, along with his producing partner Nina Yang Bongiovi, music producer/artist Kaseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean (who has been involved in Godfather of Harlem‘s music), and Decoder Media’s Keith McQuirter.

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The project doesn’t have a premiere date, but it likely will premiere around the same time as Godfather of Harlem season 2, which also is TBA.

The show stars Academy Award winner Whitaker as Harlem crime boss Bumpy Johnson, who returns home after a prison stint to realize his territory has been taken over by the Italian mafia. Bumpy fights to regain control of Harlem, while also allying himself with Malcolm X.

Nigél Thatch co-stars as Malcolm X, while Luis Guzman (Code Black), Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) and Chazz Palminteri are also in the extensive cast.

By Whatever Means Necessary is the latest true crime project tied to a scripted series. More of them have cropped up as TV crime dramas inspired by true stories have enjoyed more popularity of recent.

When Dirty John premiered on USA, a documentary was set on sister network Oxygen that told the real story of John Meehan. Likewise, the Betty Broderick case got renewed coverage for that show’s second season.

People watching the scripted shows are interested in learning what actually happened, and how much of what they’re seeing is real. Godfather of Harlem is an excellent choice for such a project, as it’s a very different kind of crime story, so there’s a lot that people probably don’t know about Bumpy Johnson, his associates, his enemies and the city so close to his heart.

Presuming that EPIX premieres it at the same time or just before the show returns—which has been the case with the aforementioned other series—it would make some excellent companion viewing.

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Godfather of Harlem season 2 does not yet have a premiere date, but the full first season is now streaming on various digital platforms.