BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Actor, producer and hip hop artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson will look to add to his burgeoning entertainment empire through a recently signed development deal with Starz, a pact that has him creating several new projects for the premium service. Jackson, currently executive producer and co-star of Starz’s hit drama series Power, will create and executive-produce a new superhero-themed series for Starz dubbed Tomorrow, Today through his production company, G-Unit Film and Television.
Jackson spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead after Starz’s Television Critics Association Summer Tour panel on Power. They discussed his new deal with Starz, which runs through 2018, as well as his efforts to juggle his musical and television aspirations. An edited version of the interview appears below.
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MCN:What does it mean for you as a TV producer to have this new deal with Starz?
CJ: It’s exciting. It’s allowing me to have a platform to bring my ideas out. It’s a perfect fit for me to be in premium cable because things can be made now that are more graphic, so it’s allowing me to be as graphic as the material that’s being created out here not only in the youth culture, but in the hip hop culture, so it’s exciting. What makes it exciting for me is to be able to present that content to a wide audience.
MCN:What should viewers expect fromTomorrow, Today?
CJ: It’s a superhero-themed show and it’s about a doctor that works for the U.S. government and is developing a serum to create super soldiers. Following the discontinuation of the program, he continues to work on it and ends up working in the infirmary of the state penitentiary, and gives the serum to the perfect lab rats — the inmates. One of the people that he tested on actually gets out of the prison. He was wrongfully convicted of a crime to begin with, and now he’s trying to escape the aggressive nature of South Side Chicago.
MCN:You have your hand in so many things — music, TV production, you’re even a boxing promoter. Is there one thing you like most?
CJ: When you get conditioned for one thing, other things start to become a challenge. I’ve been writing music full-time since 1997 — I could stop this interview now and write a song — so I don’t need to be in a specific setting or circumstances to write music. Then the fun part of this challenge is producing. I don’t see any limitations with what you can do in film. I always try to sustain the artistic integrity of the projects that I’m involved in and I concentrate on quality control. People scream for more episodes ofPower— I was screaming for it to be better. I think the audience would appreciate that. If it’s as good as we want it to be, then they will feel like they want more of it and come back for the next episode or season.
MCN:Are you surprised at the success and longevity ofPower, with Starz recently adding a fourth and fifth season?
CJ: Actually, I’ve been saying seven seasons since we started. Everybody asked me, “How long do you think it will go?” and I’ve always said seven, so we’re almost there.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.