Starz Conjures Renewal Ahead of 'Magic City' Premiere

Starz, marking the third time it has made such a gambit with new drama entrants, has ordered a second season of Magic City before its linear launch.

Scheduled to premiere at 10 p.m. on Starz, the 1959s-set Magic City stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the proprietor of Miami's Miramar Playa Hotel, where series creator Mitch Glazer spent much of his childhood.

The premium network, which added 595,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, gave similar renewals to gladiator series Spartacus: Blood and Sand and political drama Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer, before either of those shows made their debut.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht announced a 10-episode, second season, production of which is expected to begin later this year, ahead of the campaign's bow in 2013. Magic City's first season comprises eight episodes.

"Magic City is a beautifully written, superbly acted, and visually stunning series, and we feel the quality of the work accomplished deserves a second season," said Albrecht in announcing the pre-debut pick-up. "It has already been sold in more than 70 territories worldwide, and represents the kind of premium entertainment the Starz brand is seeking to create."
Noted Glazer: "Season one of Magic City has been the most fulfilling and complete creative experience of my life. I'm thrilled to continue spinning tales of Miami Beach 1959 for Starz!"

In addition to Morgan (Watchmen, Grey's Anatomy), Magic City's ensemble cast also stars Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Max Payne) and Danny Huston (The Kingdom, Children of Men).

Set in Miami's Miramar Playa Hotel leading into the new year of 1959, hotelier Ike Evans (Morgan) conjures up ways to finance his dream. He has essentially sold his soul to the devil, mob boss Ben "The Butcher" Diamond (Huston). Ike's wife Vera (Kurylenko), a former showgirl, and his three children think he is an honorable man, but he just can't break his pact with the most dangerous criminal in town..

Starz has already evinced strong support for Magic City, having secured deals to make the first three episodes of the series available via cable, satellite and telco affiliates' various on-demand platforms and online offerings prior to its linear debut in an effort to encourage sampling and bolster subscription sales. The effort, flanked by a spring preview that will include the pilot running after the conclusion of Spartacus: Vengeance on March 30 on the linear channel, marks the first time Starz is making three episodes of an original series accessible to viewers before its premiere.

Last September, Starz ordered a 10-episode sophomore run for Boss, before the show premiered on Oct. 21. In late December of 2009, the premium network commissioned a 13-installment second season of Spartacus before the show, starring Andy Whitfield, debuted the following month.

Whitfield, though, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which caused delays to the second season, and resulted in Starz airing the six-episode prequal, Gods of the Arena. Whitfield, 39, died last September. Liam McIntrye is now playing the lead Thracian's role in Spartacus: Vengeance.