Starz is quickly becoming a go-to network for quality television, with critically acclaimed original series' such as Spartacus: Vengeance and Boss. The network is debuting its latest program Magic City, which is set in 1958 and 1959 Miami Beach, Friday, April 6 at 10 PM ET with Episode 1.01: The Year of the Fin. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as Ike Evans, who runs the Miramar Playa Hotel, and seems to have it all, with a beautiful wife (Olga Kurylenko) and three children. However, it is all a sham, as he is indebted to mob boss Ben "The Butcher" Diamond (Danny Huston).
Series creator/executive producer Mitch Glazer, who grew up hanging out in these Miami hotels in the late 1950s, recently participated in a conference call to discuss his new series, and he spoke about the historical importance of setting the pilot on New Year's Eve 1958.
"I realize obviously that with the fall of Havana in '58, that New Year's Eve, which is obviously cinematic to the extent that it's been in The Godfather, it was such a defining moment for Miami and for the country. But in Miami you went from a city that had 30,000 Cuban immigrants in 1959 to I believe 250,000, 18 months later or 2 years later. That night changed everything for the city. I mean there actually is a book called 1959 because there was massive cultural and political shift in the country and in the world that year and a lot of it happening as I found out in the lobbies of these hotels. So it was just the perfect period. Having been born and raised in Miami Beach and been alive at that point, although only 7 years old, it seemed like a very incredibly glamorous and cool era to write about as well as obviously kind of important."
Jeffrey Dean Morgan was also on the call, and discusses what he identified with his character, Ike Evans.
"Well I think you're dealing with a guy who is a good guy, who kind of raised through the ranks and built his dream mostly by hard work. He's a family man in his heart. I think that was sort of the thing that I identified with the character. I loved that Mitch had written was this guy who loves his family and he's thrown into incredible pressures and he's forced to make decisions. And like all of us, he has trouble making decisions and he makes the wrong ones at times and there are repercussions. The great thing about being able to do this in long form and doing an actual series on Starz is that I get to, through Mitch or Mitch through me, kind of tell the story of this man and not only the great things that happen in his life but the mistakes and the horrific kind of repercussions of those mistakes and how this guy deals with them."
The actor also spoke about the difference in being on a cable network like Starz, as opposed to his previous network shows like Grey's Anatomy, and about how cinematic this series is.
"We have in the first year eight episodes and next year we're going to do ten which allows us more time. We are less rushed than most of what we see on television which kind of allows us to be much more cinematic. I never felt when I was doing this show that it was a television show. It didn't feel like it when we were making it. I never felt that kind of - I mean the pace is still incredible but, you know, as you've seen, it doesn't look like anything I think that's been on television. Everybody in this comes from the world of film both in front and in back of the camera."
Mitch Glazer also spoke about the importance of actually shooting the series in Miami.
"It's called Magic City. The city was always going to be a character. I knew that there was nothing - I mean, you know, I'm such a Miami guy that the only time I ever saw Miami accurately portrayed was when Michael Corleone goes to visit Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II and you pull up to that little middle class Jewish home. I remember turning to someone and saying, 'That is what Miami Beach looks like.' It was a mission of mine to get down there and use the city, you know, the largest kind of existing pre-1959 architecture in the world is that deco area and the light and the smells. But I also had a feeling - I had a dream that the actors would be inspired and be able to kind of become a part of the experience deeper from shooting it there. We shot the pool area at the Deauville Hotel on Collins Avenue which was built in like '58. My father did the lighting for it as I said and I worked there as a cabana boy in '73. We shot a scene in Episode 6 in the ballroom that The Beatles played in in '64 and I was there. I mean I was there watching the Ed Sullivan Show and I could take Jeff in and a couple of the actors and the same chandeliers. And so literally, you know, you can kind of immerse yourself as Jeff said in the reality of the moment and I could speak to it. So to do it in Burbank or North Carolina, the storytelling and the performances would've held up but there's a depth to it from being in the place that you can't compete with."