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Jan
2024
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‘Emperor of Ocean Park’ Begins Filming in Chicago January 10

2024 will begin with yet another new television series being welcomed to the City of Chicago. The Emperor of Ocean Park is a ten-episode dramatic tale based on Stephen L. Carter’s best-selling novel. The team will be led by Shameless writer Sherman Payne, John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television. And the MGM+ series has found its lead.

Sources tell SCREEN the series is expected to begin filming in Chicago next week, on January 10th, and will wrap on or near April 25th.

Set in the worlds of politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, the series centers on Talcott Garland, an Ivy League law professor whose quiet life is shattered when his father, Judge Oliver Garland, dies of an apparent heart attack. The nature of the judge’s death is questioned by Tal’s sister, Mariah, a former journalist and inveterate conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play.

Emperor of Ocean Park is much more than a murder mystery,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+, in a statement. “While it is an engrossing whodunit in its own right, it also explores important themes of middle-and-upper-class Black identity, making it an outstanding addition to MGM+’s slate of engaging and thought-provoking original series.”

Who’s Leading the Cast and Crew for Emperor?

The lead for The Emperor of Ocean Park will be Grantham Coleman.

Coleman can currently be seen in Paramount+’s Taylor Sheridan series Bass Reeves, where he plays Edwin Jones. His recent resume also includes Netflix’s George C. Wolfe drama Rustin, starring alongside Colman Domingo, who plays gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Coleman played the character of “Ronnie Mathis” in the third season of Starz’s crime drama Power Book III: Raising Kanan.

In this quick clip, Grantham chats with BlackFilmAndTV about his roles in Power and Lawman: Bass Reeves

Alongside Grantham Coleman will be former Jessica Jones series regular Tiffany Mack, who plays Mariah Denton, and Milwaukee native Paulina Lule, playing Kimmer Madison Garland, Tal’s wife, a high-powered lawyer on the verge of being appointed a federal judgeship who sometimes neglects the feelings of those around her, including her husband.

Tiffany Mack & Paulina Lule (Courtesy of Di Harvell / Molly Pan)

It’s been a long road to bring this tale to the screen. The book was published in 2002 and was optioned by Warner Bros., John Wells Productions (JWP) and Gaylord Films in 2001. A film adaptation was previously in the works from Stephen Schiff and Carl Franklin, while Katori Hall developed the project as a pilot for Fox in 2015.

JWP will produce the MGM+ series in association with Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal. John Wells, Sherman Payne, Damian Marcano, Shukree Tilghman, and JWP’s Erin Jontow will serve as executive producers.

Chicago’s Kevin McGrail will be leading the production team as Unit Production Manager.

Shameless Writer Returns to Chicago

The popular and critically acclaimed Showtime series Shameless was set in Chicago and filmed a portion of its series in The Windy City over its lengthy run. One of the cornerstones of that series returns to Chicago with Emperor of Ocean Park, as Shameless writer Sherman Payne will be serving as showrunner.

Payne also wrote the first episode of Emperor, which will be directed by the aforementioned Damian Marcano (Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty).

Ready to Roll in 2024

The Emperor of Ocean Park is not the only brand new series landing in Chicago to begin the new year. Hulu’s show Deli Boys will also be filming its inaugural season in town later this month. Click here for more of SCREEN’s coverage of Deli Boys, including a look at the show’s cast and crew.

Many more updates ahead for The Emperor of Ocean Park as the series forges ahead into production this month.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for the latest in Chicago and Illinois television production. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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