When it comes to talking money, 50 Cent always seems to be up for the conversation.
In a revealing interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture, 50 Cent said that in negotiating with major networks before joining Starz, he had to deal with racism from the networks that failed to recognize the vision of his “Power” and “BMF series, despite them eventually becoming the top-rated shows.
During the interview, the New York native with an estimated net worth of $40 million said that those networks passed on his ideas when he pitched his shows to HBO, Showtime, Paramount and Hulu.
In his opinion, the rapper-turned-TV mogul said that he believes these networks either had a similar show pitch to them or were not interested in his projects.
And when he did get the deals sealed, 50 Cent complained he was underpaid.
How much was he paid?
He said he received $17,000 per episode under his Starz contract; this included starring in a few episodes of “Power,” executive producing and creating the theme music.
The money he made from “Power,” from his perspective, was so low that 50 Cent claims he made more money appearing in clubs.
“There’s no one that could come and tell me to take $17,000 to act and executive produce and make music,” he said. “I gave them the theme song for ‘Power.’ I gave them the things that connected, hopefully, in a different way for it. Do you see what I’m saying? All those things for $17,000 per episode? I get paid more to go to the nightclub and wave.”
Another uphill battle was the idea of pitching a show about Black organized crime. 50 Cent felt that giving the label of organized crime to Black gang leaders showed intellect, which is apparently a hard sell to some studios.
However, deep down, he said he felt that the network heads did not understand the importance of his vision because his shows did not resonate with them. He also added that studios were not inclined to diversity.
“And then every two years, it felt like we were auditioning for a major carrier. It’s time to renegotiate, and it would be an issue. So for me at that point, really what it is, is racism,” 50 Cent told Vulture. “Because the project is a success, but the platforms are not necessarily acknowledging things that have diversity connected to them. I’m outperforming a lot of the shows that they had in the award-show ceremony, and they’re not putting the work in the awards show, even to watch it lose.”
The Power of Music
50 Cent said when he pitched “Power,” it was initially rejected by the networks until he and creative co-creator Courtney Kemp pitched it with six original songs to set the mood.
“Initially, we pitched ‘Power’ to everybody, and they passed. I had time to re-approach the script and the project. When I was doing it, I recorded six songs because I knew the main character, Ghost, and his arc so well,” 50 Cent said. “And when we went back to reboot the pitch, we’d play a minute and 30 seconds of a song, stop, and Courtney would talk about a piece of the character. It’s so different from what they were hearing in any other pitch because you don’t have someone there as experienced or as successful in music — exclusive music that is fit for the show.”
The rapper’s pitch to Starz was a resounding success, leading to the premiere of the show “Power” in 2014.
The show remained on air for six seasons until 2020, and became one of the most-watched shows on cable television.
The final episode of season six drew over 8 million viewers, setting a record for Starz.
“Power” garnered critical acclaim for its complex characters, suspenseful storylines, and stylish production values, earning awards like the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Drama Series and the BET Award for Best Television Series.
Its success led to the creation of several spin-offs, which helped Starz become a major player in the premium cable market.
Trouble at Starz
Despite this success, the relationship between 50 Cent and Starz was tumultuous. 50 Cent signed a four-year deal with Starz in 2018, which included a three-series commitment and funding for his production company, G-Unit Film & Television, Inc.
However, he was unhappy with the network’s marketing and promotion of his shows, and felt he was not given enough creative control.
In 2020, he threatened to leave Starz if the network did not renew the third season of “Power Book II: Ghost.”
Although the show was eventually renewed, 50 Cent’s relationship with Starz suffered irreparably.
In 2022, he signed a new television deal with FOX and criticized his former network for passing on his upcoming shows.