Best TV Show Set in Miami 2012 | Magic City | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

It's the middle of the day on Ocean Drive a half-century ago. Cuban men sit in folding chairs on the grassy strip now known as Lummus Park, strumming tiny guitars and singing in Spanish. A businessman in a breezy white suit approaches and lingers for a moment to enjoy the music. Behind them, shiny pastel cars glide past pedestrians in circle skirts and cat's-eye sunglasses. Everything, from the familiar façades of the hotels in the background to the sepia tinge that the late-afternoon sun casts in the summertime, is picture-perfect Miami. Scenes such as those are what elevate Magic City from a standard premium-cable corruption drama to a loving homage to Miami's past. Sure, this town had its problems back in the day: political unrest brewing in Cuba, union scuffles and workers' disputes here at home, and just as many shady dealings then as today. But those times are the foundation upon which the city we call home was built, and this Starz drama does them justice. For that reason alone, you gotta love it. Of course, that's not the only reason to watch. Like any good cable show, Magic City treats viewers to healthy doses of T&A, with copious sex scenes steaming up the already-humid air. Plus, the performances that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and company turn in are as convincing as the scenery itself — and yes, the action was filmed in Miami, not some L.A. set designer's version of it. Magic City's elements combine into a sexy, stylish, sleazy, dramatic, and addictive package — much like Miami itself.

Three haiku about Laurie Jennings:

Soft! Lighter than air,

She glides behind her news desk

In a chair sans wheels.

United Way... eh.

Her community service

Is her smile, homey.

Her calm, sexy voice,

Her face on every screen

When robots take over.

As host of NBC 6's 6 in the Mix, Roxanne Vargas doesn't get to cover the same breaking news stories she reports for the station's morning show. But she goes into each cooking segment and "Melt-Proof Make-Up" item with unflagging enthusiasm and genuine interest. As a result, she elicits unexpected responses and humanity from guests who thought they were going on television simply to spend a couple of minutes talking about what swimsuit is best for your butt. Take, for example, her interview with Nicolas Cage, whom she took as seriously as she would have taken the pope. Vargas asked of Cage's oft-ridiculed role as the flaming-skulled Ghost Rider: "What was it like essentially to embrace this dual role?" Cage, unexpectedly, gave a reasoned and interesting answer: "Anyone who has lived for eight years with the curse of his head exploding in flames and turning into a skull would go a little nuts. And this movie allowed me to go there and open that door." That's the most sense Nick Cage has made in a decade.

One day, we'd like to see Gary Nelson dressed in a tweed suit and a fedora as he narrates pulp noir novels on the stage of a local theater. He possesses the perfect baritone to match his skills as a storyteller. Even when reporting on the mundane, everyday events of the evening news, Nelson keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Born and raised in Gainesville, Nelson has never left the Sunshine State during his 42-year broadcasting career, although he has gone on many overseas assignments that landed him several Emmy and Associated Press honors. Among his award-winning pieces was a 2008 exposé on former Miami police chief John Timoney receiving a free Lexus, and his revelations last year that more charter schools failed the FCAT than public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward. The wily journalist is a master at landing scoops. He was the first to interview Frank Acosta, a student at Barbara Goleman High who was arrested for stabbing a classmate who allegedly attacked him. More recently, Nelson was the first reporter to bum-rush Peyton Manning when he came to Miami shortly after the hall-of-fame quarterback was released by the Indianapolis Colts.

Jorge Ramos is hard to miss. Long before Anderson Cooper was strutting around conflict zones in a tight black T-shirt, the original silver fox was stalking presidents for exclusive interviews. During his 27 years at Univision, Ramos has helped grow the Spanish-language station into one of the most powerful in the Americas. Since starting his Sunday morning talk show Al Punto in 2007, he has almost single-handedly shown that Hispanics are a political force to be reckoned with. He has interviewed Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and even Arizona's vigilante sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Yet despite his international reach, Ramos is far from the first name you think of when it comes to Miami's prensa power brokers. One reason is that Ramos — Mexican-born but now an American citizen — and his station cater to a mostly Mexican audience. Univision's studio may be in Doral, but its audience has traditionally been in Texas, California, or New York, not Florida. But a recent spat between Ramos and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio proves that Univision's relevance — along with its audience — is growing in Miami. After months of trying to track down Rubio for an interview, Univision execs told the senator that Al Punto would run a story about how his brother-in-law had past convictions for drug trafficking. If the senator granted Ramos an interview, however, the stand-alone story might not air, they allegedly said. Rubio's team leaked news of the negotiations to the Miami Herald and the story exploded. But the flap didn't dent Ramos's popularity. If anything, it just showed his expanding influence. El zorro plateado is here to stay.

During hurricane season, Miamians need gravitas and real experience to firmly pull their eyes to that terrifying map swirling behind their meteorologist's frantically waving arms. Max Mayfield, more than anyone else in town, knows when to cover up and get out of a hurricane's way. Some meteorologists do their reporting by putting the top down on their drive to work, but Mayfield's street cred is real. After predicting weather for the Air Force, he spent 35 years at the National Hurricane Center, including seven as its director. The guy lives extreme weather; his favorite Bible verse is Matthew 7:24-27, which is about rain and flooding. Is his favorite Billy Joel album Storm Front? If his son misbehaved, would Mayfield call him "El Niño"? We may never know, but you can count on this: When hurricane season rolls around, Mayfield is there with his easy smile and Oklahoma drawl.

Last year, the Florida Marlins were laughably bad. Led by octogenarian manager Jack McKeon, the Fish finished dead last in the National League East with an abysmal record of 72-90. Fans could only sit back and sarcastically applaud as the season fell apart. This year, however, the Marlins are no laughing matter. A new stadium and several high-profile free-agent signings mean the team is a serious playoff contender. So thank God for Logan Morrison. The outfielder's tweets have gotten him in trouble in the past, but we read them just to keep our spirits up. Sometimes LoMo's feed is an all-too-intimate narration of his day — for example, this recent gem: "That awkward moment when you're able to muffle a giant fart, then realize it smells like Bigfoot's dick..." He excels when poking fun at fellow celebrities: "In #26hours @justinbieber's new single #Boyfriend drops. Im gonna have 2 call my physician bc this erection is goin 2 last longer than 4 hrs..." Many of his tweets mock his own romantic life. For instance, before a spring-training game against the Angels, he tweeted opposing pitcher C.J. Wilson: "Hey @Str8edgeracer if you tweet my cell # out & encourage chicks to MMS me pics, ill only fly out to deep RF off of you. Deal?" But what makes Morrison a must-follow is his interaction with his 100,000-plus followers. When one fan tweeted him: "LoMo hows it feel that u got drafted for $4 in our fantasy league," Morrison didn't skip a beat. "Still not the worst thing ive done for $4."

For a so-called amateur blogger, Bill Cooke sure breaks a hell of a lot of interesting stories. In fact, with his run of recent scoops, the professional photographer could be a star in any local newsroom. Instead, he's one of the most feared nemeses in at least one local newsroom in particular: the Miami Herald. The Doral-bound daily is Cooke's most frequent target on his blog, Random Pixels. Sometimes he's just parsing the Herald's stories, critiquing the editors, or creating hilarious fake front pages. Other times he's leaking internal emails, as he did when a sportswriter belittled a colleague's coverage of rumors about an old hookup between Sarah Palin and former Miami Heat star Glen Rice. And sometimes he's just embarrassing the daily by beating it to big stories — from his recent revelation that two Miami Beach cops were suspended for drinking on the job and speeding on camera, to breaking the news about the Beach's choice for its next police chief, to introducing the world to a naked Miami woman immortalized in a Google Maps photo.

Photo by Magnus Stark

Carried by Gregg Weiner's forceful performance and Joseph Adler's tight direction, GableStage's Red was a strongly acted and dense portrait of a complex, flawed, and opinionated man. The venerable one-act drama about the brilliant Russian-born American painter Mark Rothko (played by Weiner) hurled symbolism, existentialism, and Friedrich Nietzsche all up in the audience's face like an abstract expressionist dousing a canvas with paint. At its core, the play is a series of snapshots of the artist's mind through visceral moments where he admonishes his young assistant Ken (played by Ryan Didato) while also feigning indifference and bitching about everything that's wrong with world culture. Weiner's blistering performance revealed the artist as a complicated, narcissistic soul who was deeply influenced by Nietzscheism and who viewed himself as a fading giant in a postmodern world. Adler's masterful direction made an otherwise incomprehensible genius accessible and human. Held together by an absorbing classical soundtrack, set designer Lyle Baskin's stripped-down lighting, and the two actors who delivered playwright John Logan's heavily intellectualized prose with adept skill, Red was everything a profound and engaging drama should be.

Mad Cat Theatre's Paul Tei wanted to explore the impact the Internet has on our lives. His aim was to reveal how communication has been stifled. And with his play So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah, he channeled our very real struggles with pain, loss, family, love, and resolve through his protagonist Polly's whirling mind's eye. Tei's brilliantly twisted play was an amalgam of witty comedy, textually dense psychodrama, trippy-ass quests of intellectual expression, philosophical meanderings, and comedic kitsch, with some existentialism thrown in for good measure. Melissa Almaguer played Polly, a struggling comedy writer who flew to Hollywood, Florida, from Hollywood, California, to attend her grandmother's funeral and write the eulogy. As she opened her laptop to begin writing, the audience became Alice in Polly's Wonderland of imagination. Her subconscious, made up of four zany "deconstructionists," was the audience's guide on a quest involving lost love, Wikipedia entries, and emotional baggage. It was a furious, frenzied production where we were plunged into the mind of a writer while she trudged through personal issues, relationships with family members, and a challenging career, all while trying to kick a stubborn case of writer's block as she penned a eulogy for her dead grandmother. Writer/director Tei understands that theater doesn't resonate like it should without a nuanced script, fascinating characters, a daring and original story, and just the right amount of crazy. So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah delivered on all counts.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®