Period dramas seem to be a lucrative TV business and the Starz network is not wasting any time jumping on the bandwagon. Magic City shines a spotlight on Miami Beach in the late 50s and early 60s when the city was a glitter filled and balmy wonderland.
Jeffery Dean Morgan, as Isaac ‘Ike’ Evans, heads an extremely talented, yet not very well known, cast whose playground is the fictional Miramar Playa Hotel. The series begins with a huge New Year’s Eve bash ushering in 1959, the year revolutionary forces took over Cuba, 90 miles off the U.S. coast. The significance of this event is still deeply rooted into the fiber of Miami that houses one of the largest Cuban populations outside the actual country. Cuban citizens who fled to Miami can be credited for putting the magic into this striking city.
Morgan’s Ike Evans is charming, gracious and appears to have a heart of gold, but like many charismatic leading men, harbors deep, dark secrets. Building the Miramar Playa Hotel required Evans to wade into mob-invested waters taking on as a silent partner the king of Miami’s underworld, Ben Diamond (Danny Huston), aptly named “The Butcher.” The upheaval in Cuba has wreaked havoc on Diamond’s casino business there and his return to Miami threatens Evans and his closely knit circle.
Model turned actress Olga Kurylenko portrays Vera Evans, Ike’s “slightly” younger, second wife, a former show girl he picked up at the Copa Cabana cabaret. (Ike’s first wife died from cancer, a loss that continues to haunt him). At first glance, Vera seems to harbor gold digger-like tendencies, yet as the series plays on, she seems to be unaffected by her lavish surroundings and shares a seemingly true and authentic love with Ike.
Morgan’s grown sons, Stevie (Steven Strait) and and Danny (Christian Cooke) are polar opposites. Stevie, the hotel’s heir apparent, runs the Atlantis Lounge, taking advantage of his bad boy good looks to court the ladies. But will his penchant to court danger get him in over his head? Danny, the fair-haired son, graduates from Tulane and returns home to attend law school. For Danny, family ties are important, but so are the ideals laid out by a youthful President Kennedy.
Taylor Blackwell plays Ike’s adolescent daughter, Lauren, who must lean on Vera as her mother figure. Taking it all in stride, Vera struggles with raising Lauren while not so secretly yearning for a child of her own. Jessica Marais is compelling as Lily Diamond, married to The Butcher, yet carrying on an affair with the risk-taking Stevie.
Mitch Glazer, born in Key Biscayne and raised in Miami, drew on his memories to weave into the series a level of nostalgia that is astounding. His father was a lighting designer who crafted the look for the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels, both famed Miami Beach icons, then and now. Glazer was saturated with Miami Beach glam and, a former write for Rolling Stone and other publications, knows how to narrate a story. (His second wife, Kelly Lynch, plays Ike’s former sister-in-law).
Take a journey back in time with the actors and the characters in Magic City. If you missed any episodes, you can catch up on the Starz website. Magic City is a time a machine and a reminder of all things “magic” in a city that continues to dazzle.
Magic City airs on the Starz network on Friday’s at 10 p.m. For more information, go to the Magic City website.