The real star of Magic City—with all due respect to its cast—is the period piece's set. Starz network's new Miami-mafioso drama from executive producer and writer Mitch Glazer (Scrooged, The Recruit) centers on a hotel owner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in the late 1950s involved with both the mob and luminaries like Frank Sinatra and the Kennedys—not to mention restive unions and the CIA. But the hotel itself, the fictional Miramar Playa Hotel, steals almost every scene. It's a dazzling built-to-scale replica, one of the largest original backdrops in TV history, and, as Glazer explains below, an homage to luxe neo-Baroque Miami Beach style.
The Miramar Playa features a "staircase to nowhere," based on the one in Miami's Fontainebleau hotel. "The elevators would stop at the mezzanine floor, one floor above the lobby, and there was nothing up there but the manager's office—and the stairway," Glazer says. "The women would get off on that level and then descend to their husbands. It was just for the theater of it."
The debauched mood of the hotel's bar and lounge was based on anectdotes from an ex-manager of a real Miami Beach hotel. "Hookers used to rent stools in a lounge like this," says Glazer. "You'd have three or four girls paying the bartender money for the Christmas season."
Miramar Playa Hotel lobby
The chandlier is the selfsame original that hung in the lobby of the legendary Ed Roc hotel. Glazer's father, an electrical engineer who worked for many of the classic midcentury Miami Beach hotels, actually helped install it in 1956. "After we raised it on our set, I brought my father in and sat him under it in his wheelchair. His eyes just filled up."
—Christopher Ross, assistant editor at Details