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Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in “Magic City,” which premieres tonight on Starz.

Morgan tricked into ‘Magic City’

As writer, creator and executive producer, Mitch Glazer has taken his childhood memories of growing up in Miami Beach in the late 1950s and translated them into the gritty, sexy new drama “Magic City.” The series, premiering tonight on Starz, captures the wealth, power and turmoil of the time, from the Kennedys and the Rat Pack to anti-Castro forces and the mob. At the center of it all is Ike Evans, the charming king of Miami Beach whose drive and ambition turned the former cabana boy into the owner of the luxurious Miramar Playa Hotel.

It took a character such as Ike and a small lie to get Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Grey’s Anatomy”) to return to serial TV.

“I was lied to initially by my agents, who told me it was a miniseries, which is why I was reading it in the first place, because there was no way I was going to do a television show right now,” Morgan says. “But my agent was like, ‘Oh it’s a miniseries – you do eight hours, and that’s it. It’s a one-off.’ So I read the first four, and I was like, ‘Oh God, this is really good.’ Mitch flew into New York to meet with me. I sat down for a half-hour with him, and I said, ‘I’m in.’ And I said, ‘Plus, who does miniseries anymore? That’s such a cool idea.’ And he looks at me like, ‘Are you serious? This isn’t a miniseries, man.’ By then it’s too late – I’m sold. I’m in. And that was the end of it, so here we are living in Magic City.”

But when it comes to Ike Evans, living in Magic City isn’t exactly as it seems. “On the surface you see Ike; it looks like he’s got it all. He dresses the part, acts the part, and then behind closed doors when he has those moments alone, you see that all is not what it seems, which is kind of the great stuff to play with as an actor,” Morgan says.

Ike is a devoted, faithful family man desperately in love with his second wife, Vera (Olga Kurylenko, “Quantum of Solace”), who is the stepmother to Ike’s three children – Stevie (Steven Strait), Danny (Christian Cooke) and Lauren (Taylor Blackwell). Ike will do whatever it takes to keep his family and dream intact, despite making some brutally poor decisions – including going into business with mob boss Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston).