Mary J. Blige to star in 'Power' spinoff, as 50 Cent, cast of Starz drama pay homage

Bill Keveney
Music superstar Mary J. Blige, seen accepting a lifetime achievement award at the BET Awards in June, will star in a 'Power' spinoff series, 'Power Book II: Ghost,' Starz announced Friday.

BEVERLY HILLS – Music superstar Mary J. Blige will headline a "Power" spinoff series, "Power Book II: Ghost."

"Power" executive producers 50 Cent and Courtney Kemp announced the first "Power" spinoff and Blige's involvement at the end of a Television Critics Association panel focusing on the pay-cable network's top-rated drama.

The sixth and final season of "Power," broken into two segments, will premiere Aug. 25. After a 10-episode run, the final five episodes will be broadcast starting in January. Starz also announced "Power Confidential," a discussion of the show featuring cast, producers and guests, will run after each new episode.

The "Power" sequel, one of a few in development at Starz, "will continue the journey of some of ‘Power’s’ most controversial characters," Starz said, and is expected to air next summer. No other details were provided, other than its name and Blige's involvement. 

When Blige took the stage to applause after her name was announced, the panel turned into a fan event of sorts as "Power" stars and producers welcomed the superstar to the show family.

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Mary J. Blige, second from left in the front row, talks about starring in Starz's 'Power' sequel, 'Power Book II: Ghost," as 'Power' cast members and producers, including 50 Cent, far left, listen during a Friday panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

"This is probably the most exciting thing that's going to happen to me this year. I've been a fan of 'Power' since the very beginning," said Blige, who took the seat of 50 Cent, also known as Curtis Jackson, on stage. "It just touches my heart."

Blige showed her knowledge of the show and vouched for its authenticity when she said she had real-life familiarity with the show's characters: "I dated so many Ghosts and I hung out with some Tashas."   

The cast delighted in the presence of the music legend. Omari Hardwick, who plays James "Ghost" St. Patrick, said that at the start of the series, he and Kemp discussed an artist whose playlist would inspire the development of Ghost during Season 1.

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"I said Mary J. Blige, to me, is the through-line, her music for Ghost," he said, adding that Kemp – and Naturi Naughton, who plays Tasha St. Patrick – made the same choice.

"It was the 'My Life' album all the way back to the 'Reminisce' album and everything in between," said Hardwick, who was seated next to Blige. "I couldn't wait for the day I would tell you that. I didn't now it would be in this format (with) the queen of R&B hip-hop soul sitting on my right."

As other "Power" stars, including Joseph Sikora and Larenz Tate, took Hardwick's chair to get a chance to sit next to Blige, 50 Cent explained he needed "something bigger" as "Power" moved on to the sequel.

"I said I got to find a replacement for me. We got to get something that Courtney is going to have a ball working on because it's going to be female-(oriented), somebody who got enough pull and juice and enough bass to make the show even bigger," he said. "So, then I found Mary J. Blige."