The 10-episode series is inspired by the story of infamous Harlem crime boss Bumpy Johnson, who will be played by Forest Whitaker. Esposito will play Adam Clayton Powell, a Baptist minister, Harlem congressman, and man of many appetites. Powell is a legendary Harlem figure who more than any other New Yorker advanced the cause of civil rights at home and in Washington. With a taste for European cruises at taxpayer expense, whiskey and milk, and beautiful women, Powell is an outrageous showman who delights in tweaking the white power structure. His running feud with Bumpy Johnson becomes the stuff of lore and legend.
This will not be the first time Esposito and Whitaker have worked together. Both men appeared in the film “Smoke” in onscreen roles, while Whitaker directed the film “Waiting to Exhale” in which Esposito had an uncredited role as Gloria’s ex-husband, David.
Esposito is perhaps best known for his role as Gustavo “Gus” Fring in the AMC shows “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” with his time on the former show earning him an Emmy nomination in 2012. Esposito also narrates the Netflix series “Dear White People.” On the film side, he has collaborated with Spike Lee on several projects, including the groundbreaking film “Do the Right Thing.”
He is repped by ICM and Thruline Entertainment.
“Godfather of Harlem” is written and executive produced by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein. Whitaker will also executive produce along with Nina Yang Bongiovi under his Significant Productions banner. ABC Signature Studios will produce.