LOS ANGELES – Kelly Lynch has something more precious than an Oscar: a Hollywood marriage that’s lasted 20 years.
That rare accomplishment pays off big time in “Magic City,” a new TV drama created by her husband, Mitch Glazer, about what goes on behind the scenes of a swank hotel in late 1950s Miami.
In addition to securing a juicy role as a wealthy heiress, Lynch served as an inspiration for every character, from Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), an ambitious hotel owner who teams up with criminals to stop his employees from unionizing, to Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston), a mobster so heartless that he shoots the family’s barking dog for interrupting a phone call.
“I’m his muse,” said Lynch, 53. “You write what you know, and who does Mitch know better than me? I mean, it’s the highest compliment you can make.”
Glazer, 58, who has written screenplays for “Great Expectations,” “Scrooged” and “The Recruit,” has been developing this series, which premiered at 10 p.m. Friday on Starz, for nearly half of their wedded life. It’s based largely on his childhood growing up as a cabana boy in Miami, where his father worked as an electrical engineer, at one point helping to install an elevator at the Fontainebleau Hotel used exclusively by Frank Sinatra.
Glazer wrote all eight hours of the first season, which has the style of “Mad Men” and the sudden violence of “The Sopranos.”
“Reading the scripts was like getting a book that you don’t want to put down,” Huston said. “In the end, that’s really what enticed me, this kaleidoscope of cultures and characters that are brought together in this hotel.”
Lynch appears to be a minor character: She doesn’t pop up until the second episode. But she played many roles behind the scenes, from advising Glazer on the scripts to sitting in on the editing.
“Since the day we’ve met, she’s been my favorite actress to work with in every possible way,” Glazer said.
Their matchmaker was legendary Hollywood agent Sue Mengers. Lynch was having lunch in Beverly Hills when Mengers came over to her table with Glazer.
“I remember looking up and thinking that this guy’s gorgeous, really funny and smart. He made me laugh five times in two seconds,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why am I wearing this stupid outfit? Why do I have my hair like this? Why don’t I have more makeup on?’ I think I dipped my head in my Caesar salad so he really wouldn’t look at me.”
When Glazer and Mengers returned to their table, Glazer had all kinds of questions. Mengers, known for her bluntness, simply replied: Do you want her?
“Mitch always says it’s the best thing an agent has ever done for him,” Lynch said.
Shortly after getting married, the two found themselves working together on 1993’s “Three of Hearts,” a three-way romance in which Lynch co-starred with William Baldwin and Sherilyn Fenn. Glazer was called in at the last minute to rewrite the script.
“The first day as I was driving to work, I thought, ‘What if this doesn’t go right? What if she’s this different person when I work with her?’” Glazer said. “All it did was make the marriage better. We’ve never had one fight on set. We fight at home.”
Lynch has one ground rule when they’re on the set together: Insist on being treated like anyone else. That includes going through his assistant when she has a question about something.
“I want him to be my boss,” she said. “I want him to feel that if he has to make a tough decision that’s best for the show, that he’s not making it based on the fact that I’m married to him.”
Of course, even the smoothest on-set relationship can get tested when you throw in Glazer’s mischievous high school pal, Mickey Rourke.
For 2010’s “Passion Play,” in which Glazer made his directorial debut, Lynch played a bartender. Rourke kept insisting that the character also be a stripper.
“Finally he wore me down,” Glazer said. “It made Mickey’s day.”
As Lynch continues to inspire Glazer, it also may start working the other way. She’s thinking about doing some directing and thinks she might like to helm an episode of “Magic City” if a second season gets the green light.