National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha” had its long-awaited premiere on Sunday, March 21. This life story of Aretha Franklin will unfold with two episodes per night till March 25, which is the birthday of the Queen of Soul. Two-time Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo portrays this legend of music. And based on the early rave reviews, this Grammy, Tony and Daytime Emmy champ may just add a Primetime Emmy to her growing awards collection.
Erivo is serving looks (costume design nom incoming) and vocals (yes, she’s singing the icon’s songs) as you can see in the trailer above. It kicks off with the Queen of Soul conceiving “Chain of Fools.” “It’ll get under your skin, right down to the bone,” she says. It’s gonna be whole new vibe that brings people together.”
The series also stars Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, David Cross, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Steven Norfleet, Pauletta Washington, Omar J. Dorsey, Marque Richardson, Kimberly Hébert Gregory and Shaian Jordan, who plays young Aretha. Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”) serves as showrunner.
“Genius: Aretha” was originally slated to premiere over Memorial Day weekend last year, but production was halted in March due to the pandemic; it resumed production in October.
The postponement forced “Genius” to miss last year’s Emmys, where the first two installments of the Ron Howard– and Brian Grazer-produced series have found success. The inaugural season in 2017, starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein, received 10 nominations, including Best Limited Series, Best Actor for Rush and Best Director for Howard. In 2018, the second cycle earned seven bids, including Best Limited Series and Best Actor for Antonio Banderas‘ turn as Pablo Picasso, winning two for cinematography and sound mixing.
From the looks of things, you can probably start penciling in Erivo and some craft nominations now.
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