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Starz' 'Power' Closes S-3 as One of TV's Top Crime Dramas
September 25, 2016  | By David Hinckley

Starz’s intense drama Power wraps up its third season Sunday in its favorite situation, with a target on pretty much everyone’s back.

That especially includes James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick, top), better known as Ghost, who has fallen squarely into the crosshairs of his former partner and long-time friend Tommy Egan (Joseph Sikora, with Hardwick, right).

“The characters here all have the same upbringing,” says Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson, a Power producer who also plays Ghost’s mentor Kanan. “They’ll keep going until they kill each other or law enforcement kills them.”

Ghost has spent this season trying to extricate himself from that world. The trouble is, his New York nightclub was financed by his profits from a drug ring, and that isn’t a circle where you just get a buyout and make a clean break

Also, creator/writer Courtney Kemp notes, Ghost isn’t exactly the Boy Scout of the bunch.

“In the scene where we met Ghost,” notes Kemp, “he gets dressed, he’s in the car, he walks into the club and within about six minute he’s killed someone.”

Call it an establishing moment.

“I loved that introduction,” says Hardwick. “Then we see how he says he learned that from Kanan.”

“So it’s never his fault,” says 50 Cent. “When you do something too over the top, you’ve got no responsibility yourself. It’s always, ‘You made me do it.’ “

Where a show like Empire feels slick, Power feels more raw. Still with some soap elements, still with some comedy, but also menacing, in a New York where shadowy mobsters and street thugs could be around almost any corner.

Kemp credits 50 Cent (right) for some of that.

“Curtis talks about the gangs he grew up with,” she says. “And we made the decision to use that. That’s how we get along. Now I’m not afraid of anything.”

She says she also draws on the rest of the cast.

“After a while, you start to write for the actors,” she says. “When I’m writing Ghost, in my head I hear Omari’s voice. If they sounded different, you’d have no show. Forget it.

“When I’m writing Kanan, I hear Curtis’s voice. He and Omari don’t sound the same. So that takes me in another direction.”

Speaking of Kanan, 50 Cent says he doesn’t have an immunity card just because 50 is one of the producers.

“He could get killed off, just like anybody else,” says 50. “But Kanan has shown that he can take a hit and survive.”

Hardwick says it helps both him and the show that he and Sikora became tight while hanging out for things like the field trips to 50’s old neighborhood. It’s also true that Power wouldn’t work nearly as well if Tommy didn’t seem to belong in a mostly black world, which his colleagues say he does.

In the wider scope, says Hardwick, Kemp has given Power its own poetic language.

“Just look at the names,” he says. “You hear Tommy, you think of Tommy gun. Angela [Valdez, a government attorney with whom Ghost has an affair, played by Lela Loren] is ‘angel.’ I’m Ghost. And this season I’m trying to come out of the land of the Canaanites.”

It’s not accidental, Kemp says, that many of the characters have the names of saints, starting with James St. Patrick.

And when saints talk, you listen, which is how Hardwick says he has to play Ghost.

“He has to own the room,” says Hardwick. “He has to know he’s being watched and own the moment. He can never say he’s wrong.

“But Curtis said that in the moments in his life when his career was taking off, he also thought about the people who gave him a chance on the way up.

“That’s Ghost, too. He consorts with kings, but he talks to the peasants.”

Heading into the final season three episode of Power, which has already been renewed for seasons four and five, Ghost frankly hasn’t had a great year.

But as long as he’s vertical, he’s still got that power.

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