Chat w/ Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein creators/writers of Godfather Of Harlem

Godfather of Harlem” premieres Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 10 pm ET/PT on Epix.

Godfather of Harlem is inspired by the true story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from eleven years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy must take on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X (Nigél Thatch) – catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart. Godfather of Harlem is a collision of the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.

Produced by ABC Signature Studios, the series is co-created and executive produced by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein (Narcos). Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, along with James Acheson and Markuann Smith, serve as executive producers. Chris Brancato serves as showrunner.

We had a conversation with Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, videos below.

Allen Hughes, creator of "The Defiant Ones", on HBO July 9-12

Allen Hughes has made a lasting imprint in the documentary world with HBO’s“The Defiant Ones.”

As the director, writer and executive producer of the four-part documentary that —HBO is keen on stressing is “event viewing” and will air in successive order, July 10, 11 and 12th—the journey started almost five years ago when he pitched the idea to the President of HBO and 90 seconds later it was approved. 

“It was one of the fastest green-lights that I ever received,” stated Hughes. “Then it took years to complete.”

Set amid many of the defining events of the past four decades, "The Defiant Ones" tells the stories of two men – one black, one white – Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine — both from  different tough neighborhoods and explores their improbable partnership and surprising leading roles in a series of transformative events in contemporary culture.

Storyteller Hughes, digs deep and keeps the pacing of the journey slick. Taking us into the recording studios, homes, criminal courts and in the highest corridors of corporate power.

All this because they happily provided Hughes with unfettered access (over a three-year period) in making the documentary and everyone that participated spoke frankly about the good and the bad of their lives, includingSnoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Jon Landau, Patti Smith, Lady Gaga, Doug Morris, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Diddy, Alonzo Williams and

Under Hughes’ direction the explosive series also features never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions with Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, The D.O.C., Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others.

Here is a brief excerpt for an hour long interview with Allen Hughes about making of "The Defiant Ones.”

Lapacazo Sandoval: How long did it take to make “The Defiant Ones?

Allen Hughes: Wow.  I thought it would take one year. It did not. It took three years.  That was surprising to me.  It consumed me.  There is no working script.  You don’t know what’s going to happen.

LS: Episode one.  The prologue where the Apple deal almost fell apart, what an exciting opening!

AH: Thank you. I was already shooting the documentary when the Facebook leak [in 1994] with Dr. Dre and Tyrese celebrating the billion dollar deal was all over the net. I thought that I did not have a film anymore. But then I realized that it was the best way to open the movie because it showed that this film was not bull shit.  These guys were going to revel and be vulnerable and open up. I wanted to send the signal — right away — this is not going to be your run-of-the mill doc. 

Celebrate Apple Buying
May 9, 2014 - Late last night the Financial Times broke the news that Apple is in talks with Beats Electronics to purchase the company for $3.2 billion.

LS: When this is all said and done, after it’s had it’s run on HBO—do you think you will use “The Defiant Ones” as a teaching tool?  The filmmaking is extraordinary and the life lessons that are shared, I feel, are important for others to see.

AH: Yes. Anytime someone wants to show a film and have a Q&A [I would] I love that. I love talking to students—even if they are older than me—any student that wants to learn about film, they teach me as I am engaging with them.  So absolutely, that would be great. 

LS: Duly noted. What I took away from Jimmy’s [Iovine] story, in episode one, is to follow your passion because if you do not, you should not be surprised when you keep getting fired. Thoughts?

AH: (laughing) Oh, that is so true, right? My advice. Find out what your calling is, early, and you won’t be getting fired like that! You are right. It’s a great lesson, learned [from Jimmy], wow.  

"The Defiant Ones" 
HBO Event Documentary
Part 1 July 9th, parts 2, 3 and 4 debuting on successive nights, JULY 10, 11 and 12,

HBO took home two Gold men named Oscar this year!

One of HBO’s biggest reasons for their continued success is based, in large, by the type of executives that have shaped their growing legacy.

In the documentary division one of their greatest assets is Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films. Her unique style has won her and her associates Emmys (45+), Oscars (21+), and 31 Peabody Awards along with A Personal Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.

During more than three decades with HBO, Sheila Nevins has produced almost 500 documentaries and counting.   

This year, HBO took home two more ACADEMY AWARDS® under the Documentary Film section with CITIZENFOUR in the category of Best Documentary Feature and HBO Documentary Films presentation CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 under the Documentary Short Subject category. 

CITIZENFOUR is a real-life international thriller that unfolds by the minute, following director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s remarkable encounters with Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room as he hands over classified documents that provide evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). Directed by Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky.

CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 spotlights the traumas endured by America’s veterans, as seen through the work of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line trained responders as they provide immediate intervention and support in hopes of saving the lives of service members who are struggling or contemplating suicide.

It was presented in association with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent; produced by Dana Perry; edited by Geof Bartz, A.C.E.; supervising producer, Jacqueline Glover; and executive produced by Sheila Nevins.

While covering the 2015 Academy Award this is what Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry had this to share after winning under the Documentary Short Subject for "CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1."

myNewYorkeye: What does this mean to you in terms of exposure and your very important subject that you're dealing with in your documentary and making what matters of success of AMERICAN SNIPER as well?

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: You know, when this film was made a couple of years ago, and this topic is as important today if not more than it was then.  So we are really hoping that people will be able to see this all over the world.  We're sure that HBO will make an effort to put it out there in every way possible on DVD, and, you know, we just we'll take it around.  We'll take it anywhere that people want to hear about how to help veterans. 

myNewYorkeye: Can you talk a little bit about why ‑‑ what ‑‑ what was going through your head when you made it and the effect it's had on the audience?

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: Both of us? Dana, you start. 

Dana Perry: I have no idea what the effect on the audience was.  I don't know really what I said even though I wrote something down.  My main objective was to honor the responders and the staff of the Veterans Crisis Line and also the ‑‑ the souls out there who are reaching out for help and ‑‑ and that help was available.  Of course, I do have a personal connection to the subject.  I lost my son.  He was 15 when he killed himself; and since that happened, what I said, I think I said something like, "We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide," because the best prevention for suicide is awareness, and discussion, and not trying to sweep it under the rug.  We've got a crisis with our veterans who are killing themselves.  More veterans have killed themselves than have died in these wars of the last, you know, decade or so.  So, again, I have no idea what we said, but I hope that the message was received.  Thank you.

myNewYorkeye: There ‑‑ there is a lot of talk on the Internet right now about Neil Patrick Harris's comments about your dress.  I'm wondering if you heard the comment ‑- 

Dana Perry: No.

myNewYorkeye: ‑‑ and what you thought.

Dana Perry: No. What comment?

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: About your dress?

myNewYorkeye: He said you have to have a lot of balls to wear that. 

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: That's adorable.

Dana Perry: Well, that is adorable; and I invite anyone to feel my furry balls.

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: I have nothing to say to add to that.

myNewYorkeye: I was also going to ask about your dress and just where you got it and how you chose to wear it.

Dana Perry: I went shopping in my mother‑in‑law's attic. She had great style.  She's not with us anymore, but she had great style in the '60s and '70s, and this is one of her excellent signature pieces. And I just love to wear it, because I can make ridiculous dirty jokes about it, and it also keeps me warm. You know, I just got the gown to sort of support the balls, you know what I mean?  So I can make the jokes if I want.

Ellen Goosenberg Kent: This is a very serious film here.