Vice TV had been in active production on Season 2 of Michael K. Williams’ unscripted series “Black Market” when the star was found dead on Monday, and according to insiders, much of it had already completed. The network declined comment on when the season might be ready for air, but is expected to regroup with producers and map out a new release plan.
“We are truly saddened by the sudden passing of Michael K. Williams, a true icon and a longtime friend of our Vice family,” Vice Media Group said in a statement. “Michael was a cultural visionary and a pillar of the community in his home, and ours – Brooklyn. The impact of this loss will be felt close to home and beyond for many years to come. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”
The new season of “Black Market” was announced in February, five years after the show’s initial first season. In the announcement, Vice said the show would resume its mission “to investigate the complex factors that drive people into the often dangerous underground economies and illicit trade networks. The global docuseries will continue the work Williams began in season one, which revealed an intimate portrait of the conditions from which black markets arise and the cultural reasons behind why they persist, from carjacking in Newark, N.J. to the poaching of abalone off the coast of South Africa. In all-new episodes, the series will showcase rare, first-person access to the communities most impacted by the
worldwide shadow economy.”
“After a busy period of back-to-back projects, I’m incredibly excited to rejoin my Vice family in taking a deeper dive behind telling the narratives of these global communities,” Williams said in the press release.
Freedome Prods. & Picture Farm produce “Black Market” along with Vice World News. Williams, Ben Freedman, Dion Sapp, Matthew Horowitz, David Laven, and Matt Goldman are exec producers for Freedome Prods. & Picture Farm, while executive producers for Vice World News are Jesse Angelo, Kristen Burns, Subrata De and Marsha Cooke. Vice TV’s Falguni Lakhani Adams is also an exec producer.
Williams is still best known for some of his most gut-wrenching and stirring performances such as Omar on HBO’s classic “The Wire.” This year, he’s Emmy nominated for HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
But possibly the most personal work Williams has done was “Black Market,” where the actor served as a real-world journalist – entering the dangerous world of illicit trade, such as gambling underworld in New York, car thieves in New Jersey and gun runners in the south.
“‘Black Market’ definitely left an emotional void in me,’” Williams told us in 2017. “I met so many bright spirits and so many broken people, so many people I wish I had the resources to help them on their quest. I struggled with that for a long while after we wrapped that show.”
Williams said “Black Market” was a whole new challenge for him. “I had no clue of what this world was,” he said. “I come from knowing my lines and the perfect scene, and none of those tools worked in the ‘Black Market’ world. I had to let go of all of that and be Mike. Mike is not the most educated person in the world. When I let that go, that fear of looking ignorant in this world, I got to learn.”
If the subjects of his interviews had anything in common, it was a desire to get out of this illicit lifestyle, Williams said. “If I came in there with some sort of magic wand and offered them a better way of life, they all would have taken it without batting an eyelash,” he said. “None of them were happy with their way of life, none of them were proud of it.”
The experience inspired Williams in creating a non-profit organization, among other things. The first season of “Black Market” premiered on June 5, 2016 on the network (then named Viceland), and ran for 12 episodes.