Press Tour: 'Magic City' teases James Caan's arrival and an ambitious Season 2

Mitch Glazer also promises a great Passover seder

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PASADENA, CA - "Magic City" won't return to Starz until a yet-to-be-determined date in the summer, but the premium cable network unveiled the first teaser for the sultry 1950s-set Miami drama on Saturday (January 5) at the Television Critics Association press tour.
 
As you can tell from the teaser [above], a lot remains the same at the Miramar Playa, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Ike Evans trying to extricate himself from the mobbed-up grasp of Ben "The Butcher" Diamond, played by Golden Globe nominee Danny Huston. There's sex and violence and some of the most impressive production design on the small screen.
 
As you can also tell, there's a new gangster in town, James Caan's Sy Berman.
 
"[L]ast season, Ben Diamond was basically the great white shark of crime. He was the top of the food chain, had no known enemies... [F]rom
all my research and interviews, the way the mob worked, particularly back in those days, is you always answer to somebody," explained series mastermind Mitch Glazer to the assembled reporters. "And it felt like great storytelling to turn it on its head, what we’d done in the first season, in the sense that Danny’s character, Ben Diamond, was the top of, you know, power and crime in Miami, and show that he is responsible to somebody else. And, also, it gave me a chance in the storytelling to show where The Butcher came from and how he became who he became."
 
Caan joked, " I had the left-hand corner of the 'Hollywood Squares' all lined up, and then Mitch called."
 
But seriously, though...
 
"Listen, the truth of the matter is, I’m at the point where I care very much about what I do," The "Godfather" star said. "I still try to maintain a little bit of integrity. And of all of the things that I had been reading, this was easily, not only because I know Mitch and I’ve had the pleasure of watching these people work beforehand, there was something that, as an actor, I didn’t put it into any category. It was just well written, you know, and beautifully shot and something that I thought would be a lot of fun and fun in a creative way, and it was. I mean, all of these people are just great."
 
Sy Berman's arrival to threaten The Butcher's authority isn't the only thing changing as we move deeper into 1959 on "Magic City."
 
"The time and place was incredibly dynamic historically, and then once you put this family, create this family and put them — set them in motion, it gave me the opportunity to deal with what I think is, you know, one of the most important and exciting periods of America and world politics, really," Glazer said. "[I]n the spring of 1959, and there was a moment in time when Castro was coming to America and on 'Meet the Press' and looking for investors and things, you know, in America before he turned to Russia. And that’s kind of the window where we are. So it’s still a huge canvas because it was. And I love dealing with, you know, the nexus between Mafia, anti-Castro forces in Miami and this hotel family is again going to  kind of drive the show. But, I humbly think that this season is bigger and yet more intimate than last. I mean, the appetite or ambitions for this year were huge, and the storytelling takes us to Havana and to Cuba — and to Chicago
and, it’s a — it’s a large canvas but told through the eyes of this family. So it’s hopefully organic and personal and compelling but fun."
 
And what about for viewers like me, viewers fascinated by the "Magic City" depiction of the assimilated Jewish experience in the mid-20th Century? As I put it, what's in store for Jewishness in Season 2 of "Magic City"?
 
"We’ve got a great seder," Glazer cracked. "You’re going to love it, fantastic seder. Yeah, it’s assimilated Jewish experience because it was mine. And, you know, I believe that if you write the specific truth that’s true to you, you can connect on a universal level, hopefully, and so, I mean, it’s ongoing. I mean, the Arthur character is kind of a vaguely left, a religious Jew and the grandfather of the family; and Vera’s character is still kind of drawn to the family part of the Jewish culture. You know, it’s definitely part of the season, and I love writing it, and it is a great seder."
 
Spring 1959? Well, at least a Seder sounds plausibly timed.
 
We'll have to wait until summer to find out.
 
But check out the teaser.
Dan-feinberg-sm
Daniel Fienberg
Executive Editor
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.
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