Hollywood Comes to Elmhurst

TomPlayingChess

By Katie Bolinger

Tom Paravola, the owner of It’s Good to Be King, Chicagoland’s chess store in Elmhurst, unexpectedly immersed himself in the world of Hollywood during an unseasonably warm week in mid-March.

His unique store was picked as a filming location for the upcoming Amazon MGM show The Emperor of Ocean Park because chess was the main character’s favorite game, and the book alludes to it frequently.

When the production crew and director came to scout the store, Paravola was pleasantly surprised that director Damian Marcano saw the store’s name, ‘It’s Good to Be King,’ as the perfect fit for the era when the story occurred. As a result, the name will grace the store’s window and awning in the series’ inaugural season scheduled to debut in 2025.

The local shop will play the part of a Boston store where key characters engage in a chess game. A crew of six worked for a day and a half to transform the store to fit the desired aesthetic.

very detail was meticulously attended to, from using black tape to cover the silver around the windows to enhancing the awning with fake moss. During filming, director Marcano took some of Paravola’s suggestions about angles for shooting in the store.

It all started when Paravola’s wife, Marguerite, played a crucial role by taking the initial call from the production company. Recalling the start of the process, Paravola humorously remarked, “She said, ‘I told you, you should talk to everyone who comes in,’ and I’ve been hearing it ever since.”

The Emperor of Ocean Park is a suspenseful take on Stephen L Carter’s best-selling 2002 novel. Set in the worlds of D.C. politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, it tells the story of Talcott Garland, a law professor who uncovers a mystery surrounding his father, the titular ‘Emperor of Ocean Park.’

The store at 129 W. First St. in Downtown Elmhurst is returning to normal. It’s Good to Be King offers a variety of chess sets for all ages and skill levels. Operating hours are Wednesdays (11 am-3 pm), Thursdays (3 pm-7 pm), Fridays and Saturdays (12 pm-4 pm). ■

Setting up lighting for It’s Good to Be King’s moment in the spotlight.

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