‘Genius: Aretha’ Premiere Date Postponed Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The third installment of National Geographic’s “Genius” anthology series, subtitled “Aretha” for its subject Aretha Franklin, has been delayed due to the novel coronavirus halting production. Originally, “Genius: Aretha” was set to...

Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in National Geographic's GENIUS: ARETHA. (National Geographic/Richard DuCree)
CREDIT: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC/RICHARD DUCR

The third installment of National Geographic’s “Genius” anthology series, subtitled “Aretha” for its subject Aretha Franklin, has been delayed due to the novel coronavirus halting production.

Originally, “Genius: Aretha” was set to premiere on Memorial Day, but the limited series starring Cynthia Erivo in the titular role was still in production when concerns about the pandemic caused shutdowns across the country. With production still suspended, the network sent out a statement saying that “it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced Memorial Day airdate.”

Although the new premiere date is still to be announced, this likely means the show will also be unable to compete in the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards this September, as the eligibility deadline is May 31, 2020, with hanging episodes bleeding over into June.

“We look forward to resuming work as soon as is possible and safe, and at that time will announce a new premiere date for later this year,” the statement also read. “We cannot wait to let Aretha’s voice sing, and in the words of the Queen herself, ‘Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.’ In that spirit, we wish all of our viewers well in these challenging times, particularly those who are working in our communities to keep us all safe.”

In addition to Erivo, “Genius: Aretha” stars Courtney B. Vance, David Cross, Malcolm Barrett, Pauletta Washington, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Steven Norfleet, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Omar J. Dorsey, Marque Richardson and Shaian Jordan.

“Genius: Aretha” comes from Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios. Executive producers are Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard; Suzan-Lori Parks, who serves as showrunner; Anthony Hemingway, who is the producing director for the season; Clive Davis; Craig Kallman; Francie Calfo; Ken Biller; MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane; and Sam Sokolow. In addition, Imagine’s Anna Culp serves as producer alongside Peter Afterman.

“Genius: Aretha” joins other series such as FX’s “Fargo” and HBO’s “The Undoing” to push their premiere dates due to not being able to adequately finish their episodes in time now that there are “safer at home” and “shelter in place” advisories.

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