Emperor of Ocean Park Series Adaptation Ordered at MGM+ From Shameless Team

“Emperor of Ocean Park,” the best-selling novel by Stephen L. Carter, is being adapted into a TV series at MGM+.

MGM+ (formerly Epix) has ordered 10 episodes of the show. The order brings the book’s long road to the screen to near completion. It was originally optioned back in 2001 ahead of the book publishing. Multiple attempts have since been made to adapt the book into a film and later a television series, though none of those projects have moved forward until now.

“Emperor of Ocean Park is much more than a murder mystery,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “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.”

Per the official logline, the series is “set in the worlds of politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. It 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.”

Sherman Payne wrote the first episode and serves as executive producer and showrunner on “Emperor of Ocean Park.” John Wells and Erin Jontow of John Wells Productions (JWP) will executive produce along with Shukree Tilghman. Damian Marcano will direct multiple episodes, including the first, and executive produce. Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal, will serve as the studio.

“Stephen L. Carter’s best-selling novel set a new standard for stories about power, race, politics, and wealth,” said Payne. “It’s exceedingly rare to see Black people depicted in these settings and I believe viewers of all backgrounds will be entertained by our portrayal of the extraordinary Garland clan and the intrigue that engulfs them. I’m overjoyed to partner with John Wells Productions, Warner Bros., and MGM+ to bring this remarkable mystery to the screen.”

The show marks a reunion for Payne and Wells, as they previously worked together on the hit Showtime series “Shameless.” Wells developed the show for American television and served as showrunner, while Payne worked as a writer, and eventually co-producer, on the show.

“We’re tremendously excited to be producing Sherman Payne’s thrilling adaptation of ‘Emperor of Ocean Park,’ and to be associated with his talented team,” said Wells. “Bringing Stephen Carter’s novel to television has been a dream of ours, and we’re thankful to Michael Wright, Nancy Cotton, and everyone at MGM+ for giving us the opportunity to introduce audiences to the dangerous world of Judge Garland and his complicated, extraordinary family.”

Payne is repped by WME, Entertainment 360, and McKuin Frankel Whitehead. Carter and the novel are repped by Lynn Nesbit from Janklow & Nesbit, and Bob Bookman. Marcano is repped by Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston and Joel VanderKloot.

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