National Geographic unveiled its first stab at scripted television on Monday night with the premiere of the new limited series “Genius.” Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the program stars Geoffrey Rush as the famous theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. Howard directed the pilot, which was shown to thunderous applause for a Los Angeles audience in filled with potential Emmy voters.
Howard, Grazer, and Rush were all in attendance, as were stars Johnny Flynn, who plays a young Einstein, Vincent Kartheiser, Gwendolyn Ellis, Eugene Simon, Jon Fletcher, Samantha Colley, T.R. Knight, Michael McElhatton, Seth Gabel, and Richard Topol. Several members of the crew were there as well, including writer and showrunner Ken Biller, writer and executive producer Noah Pink, and composer Hans Zimmer, who wrote the main title theme.
“Genius” comes with a hefty awards pedigree. Rush is one of the few actors to win the trifecta of acting awards – the Oscar (Best Actor for “Shine” in 1996), the Emmy (Movie/Mini Actor for “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” in 2005), and the Tony (Actor in a Play for “Exit the King” in 2009) – and the only to take all three on his first nomination at each ceremony. He only needs the Grammy to join the elite group of just 12 people who have won the grand slam of Hollywood awards, also known as EGOTs.
Howard and Grazer won the Oscar for Best Picture as producers of “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), for which Howard also took home Best Director. They reaped Emmys for producing both “From the Earth to the Moon” (Best Miniseries in 1998) and “Arrested Development” (Best Comedy Series in 2003). On his own, Grazer won Best Drama Series for “24” in 2006. Earlier this year, the duo received a Grammy in the Best Music Film category for the documentary ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years,” putting them only a Tony away from becoming EGOTs themselves.
The 10-episode run of “Genius” begins on NatGeo on Tuesday, April 25. Reviews for the series have been strong so far. Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times calls it, “a skillfully acted, richly detailed historical show.” Luke Buckmaster of The Guardian raves it’s “a sassy, robust ride: whiplash-smart and littered with imaginative visual connections.”
Following the premiere, attendees were treated to a lavish afterparty in Westwood, complete with catered food, candy, and drinks.
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