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Forest Whitaker to Star in Emperor of Ocean Park

Today, premium linear channel and streaming service MGM+ announced that Forest Whitaker (Godfather of Harlem) will star in Emperor of Ocean Park, a thrilling, suspenseful take on author and law professor Stephen L. Carter’s best-selling novel, from executive producer/writer Sherman Payne (Charm City Kings, Shameless), John Wells Productions (JWP), and Warner Bros. Television.

The series begins production in Chicago this month and is scheduled to premiere on MGM+ this summer.

Forest Whitaker to Star in Emperor of Ocean Park

Set in the worlds of politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, the series centers on Talcott Garland (Grantham Coleman), 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 (Tiffany Mack), a former journalist and inveterate conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play.

Whitaker will pay Judge Oliver Garland, the patriarch of his family and a formidable figure in national politics and the judicial system. He is stern, intelligent, calculating, and proud. As a Black man in America, navigating unwelcoming and often hostile environments, he has formed a hard exterior—that he’s come to rely on as a shield.

He is a devoted father whose commitment to his family simultaneously bolsters and undercuts his deeply and rigidly held conservative principles.

Forest Whitaker to Star in Emperor of Ocean Park

“Forest Whitaker brings his unique gravitas and grace to every role he plays,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “We are beyond fortunate that Forest will inhabit the complex and layered role of Judge Oliver Garland and once again put his unparalleled stamp on an MGM+ Original Series.”

“I’m incredibly excited for the legendary Forest Whitaker to join Emperor of Ocean Park,” said Payne. “Portraying the patriarch of our onscreen family, Forest brings thoughtfulness, leadership, and unimpeachable talent to an already incredible cast. Since the very first draft, Forest has been my dream candidate for this role, and it is truly humbling that we are now working together to bring this story to life.”

“We are delighted and honored to have Forest Whitaker joining the cast of Emperor of Ocean Park,” said Wells. “He’s who we always hoped would agree to play Judge Garland, and his addition to our talented cast is very exciting.”

“I’m excited to be playing Judge Oliver Garland, and thank John Wells, Sherman Payne, and Michael Wright for this opportunity to join the cast and crew of Emperor of Ocean Park as we bring Stephen L. Carter’s extraordinary novel to life,” said Whitaker.

Emperor of Ocean Park is produced by JWP in association with Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal. Damian Marcano (Lawman: Bass Reeves) is set to direct multiple episodes.

John Wells, Sherman Payne, Damian Marcano, Shukree Tilghman, and JWP’s Erin Jontow will serve as executive producers. Payne, who also serves as showrunner, wrote the first episode, which will be directed by Marcano.