50 Cent and the Starz network’s besties-turned-foes storyline began in 2018 when he signed a multi-series deal to executive produce the Power universe. Now, it’s nearly time to make a major decision.
All seemed well in October 2018 when Variety exclusively reported that Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson signed a four-year deal with the Starz television network that included a three-series commitment and full access for Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television company to Starz and Lionsgate platforms.
As he beamed on the occasion, “We will continue our proven track record of breaking records and delivering unique content for audiences around the world… Get The Strap.”
Fast-forwarding almost four years, 50 Cent and Starz are at a stalemate as the expiration of said contract looms in September.
Jackson is understood to be fed up with the company over several creative differences and the failure to renew his Power spinoff, Book IV: Force fast enough for his liking. That frustration likely doubled when Starz renewed their lower-rated showHightown in March. This is not to mention the unauthorized leak of several episodes of another one of his productions, BMF: Black Mafia Family.
“I have 4 more episodes of FORCE, then I don’t have anything airing on STARZ for six months so y’all know the vibes,” Jackson expressed verbatim in a since-deleted series of tweets in late March. “FORCE is the highest rated premier of any show on the network. when they take too long to green light it, it pushes the production time line back. after tonight’s episode there are 3 left, April 10 it’s a wrap. Then 6 months till i have anything new.”
Even more recently, just months after Starz announced that Jackson would executive produce an upcoming series centered on Snoop Dogg’s 1993 murder trial, it appears that the project is no longer in production. Jackson again took to Twitter to vent last week, writing in yet another since-deleted tweet, “I give them the alley-oop, they drop the damn ball. Anyway I hope snoop tell his story.”
The truth in this particular case is rather simple, though: 50 Cent maintains the greater share of the leverage. His track record with developing hit series for a network not especially known for having boatloads of them began with executive producing (and co-starring in) Power before he took the reins on multiple spinoff series in the Power universe over the last four years, plus a new beloved fan-favorite in BMF.
All told, the iconic rapper has established a real claim in the world of film and television. Only further propping up his claim ot the throne is the recent announcement that the media mogul would be named to the board of governors of the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) alongside luminaries like Abrams, Byron Allen, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan.
The move comes as Jackson continues to solidify significant leverage headed into his first offseason as a television executive free agent, and it’s all of a piece. Here and now, there are two things that Starz and parent company Lionsgate absolutely must do before September:
- Give 50 Cent the biggest bag they’ve ever handed out in the film and television space; a lifetime deal ought to be on the table
- Appoint him as the network’s first-ever Creative Director
Sure, Jackson doesn’t come without his own set of faults, as he also accidentally leaked confidential information about Patina Miller’s role on Power Book III: Kanan last May. He claimed the network was mad at him over the leak. Elsewhere, Jackson can be found often making fun of Starz’s front office management and even publicly shaming them whenever there are any reported creative differences or business issues circulating in the media.
But it’s still clear as day: Starz needs 50 way more than 50 needs Starz. He is already apparently fielding offers from studios and streamers with his deal is set to expire with Starz later this year — the network absolutely cannot allow that to happen. Think about it: If they did, where (and to whom) could they possibly go next? Who’s the next man or next woman up who could be anything close to the creative driver Mr. Jackson has been?
Without Power, BMF, and Force, Starz would be out of strong legts to stand on. (EDITOR’S NOTE: They do have Bad Boyz II streaming, so that’s something.) To put it in perspective, the Jackson-produced original series Force debuted as the most-watched premiere ever in Starz history with 3.3 million multi-platform views in the US on Feb. 6. This was the second time in just three months that the network broke app viewership records, as the Season 2 finale of Power Book II: Ghost produced the most-viewed day in the history of the Starz app to date.
Starz CEO and President Jeffrey Hirsch surely acknowledges this in his own way as he prepares to negotiate a new overall deal for Jackson with the intention to sign him long-term.
“The Power universe continues to deliver worldwide hit series with incredible performance that compares favorably with many other high-profile streaming series,” Hirsch said in a February release following Force‘s milestone premiere. “We’re excited to see these strong early numbers for the premiere of Power Book IV: Force, which is poised to join our growing lineup of tentpole series at Starz that have global multiplatform season average views in the nine to ten million range.”
That would seem to be a ringing endorsement of Jackson’s overall impact and vision — but 50 himself has never held back in blasting Hirsch all the same. As he put it in a March Instagram post:
“This is me packing my stuff, Starz. Sucks, my deal is up over here I’m out. They renewed Hightown and Force is the highest rated show they have sitting in limbo. If I told you how much dumb shit I deal with over here,” he wrote in a since-deleted post in early March. Subsequent Instagram posts included images of bags being packed as Jackson said to “take that f*cking sign off the door no more G-unit film and television over here.”
So, is 50 Cent just playing hardball with the network to inflate his value, or is he actually teetering on the edge of being done with them forever in favor of another platform? In any event, if Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover can go from non-starter to it’s-actually-happening in a matter of days, it’s hard to conceive of this relationship being dead in the water.
But Starz has to act, and soon.
The network may have to pony up an outrageous dollar figure to keep Jackson and his in-demand series on their airwaves in the years to come, but their hesitation ought to be minimal.
The rapper who famously told the world he’d get rich or die tryin’ wasn’t exaggerating — his goal is glory, and if his partners want to get on his level, they can borrow some advice from the iconic 50 cut “How to Rob” and “dance [their] ass down to the nearest ATM.”