Delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Cynthia Ervio starring Genius: Aretha doesn’t yet know when it will resume production nor who will be playing one of the music business’ most powerful executives in the legendary singer’s life.
“We have not set an actual date yet,” said director and EP Anthony Hemingway today of when the cameras could be turned on again. Fresh off inking an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television last week, the Red Tails director was speaking via video link at the TCA virtual panel for the latest installment of the Nat Geo anthology series.
“We are having a lot of conversations now with the studio and the network just trying to figure it out,” Hemingway added. “It’s all about safety and working within the new parameters of protocols that so many of us are going to have to learn about the way we approach our work,” the Underground alum continued, noting that the team on both sides of the camera are itching to finish off the series once they can on the trio of episodes left in the eight-episode season.
“It gave us a break, it gave us an opportunity to step back and really look at what we were doing,” Hemingway said in a positive manner of the ceasing of Genius: Aretha’s Atlanta production in mid-March.
Genius: Aretha was originally designated to premiere on the Disney-owned network on Memorial Day, as an Aretha big screen bio from MGM with Jennifer Hudson was set to follow. Obviously, that didn’t happen, as the airing of Genius: Aretha was put on hold in late March about two weeks after COVID-19 concerns shut the Georgia production itself down.
Further along than California in the reopening process, COVID-19 hot-ish spot Georgia has already seen Tyler Perry start up production at his sprawling studio. Dwayne
Johnson’s Red Notice, which also stars Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, is looking to plug in again in September, with Netflix’s Ozark and AMC’s The Walking Dead probably not far behind.
Joining Hemingway on the first day of the summer tour to talk Aretha BTS was EP, writer and showrunner Suzan-Lori Parks, costume designer Jennifer Bryan, Grammy winner and executive music producer Raphael Saadiq, choreographer Dondraico Johnson, and production designer Tim Galvin. Composer and Academy Award nominee Terence Blanchard was scheduled to be on the panel, but did not appear today.
Discussing the passion and power of the “Respect” singer, Monday’s panel also revealed that because of the health crisis shutdown, no one has been cast yet to play music executive Clive Davis. Franklin signed with the Davis formed Arista Records in 1974 after leaving her longtime home of Atlantic Records. The impresario delivered one of the eulogies to Franklin at her funeral in Detroit in August 2018.
“We have not our Clive yet,” first time showrunner Parks said. “We’re having those conversations now, so stay tuned,” Hemingway added, with a smile.
A passionate civil rights advocate as well as one of the greatest singers of all time and genres, the Queen of Soul passed away almost two years ago at 76 years old. First announced back in May last year, the Courtney B. Vance, Shaian Jordan and Malcolm Barrett co-starring drama is the third season of the Ron Howard and Brian Grazer EP’d series, following previous installments spotlighting Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.
Aiming to centering mainly on the below the line efforts that went into the of series on the legendary vocalist, Nat Geo dropped a behind the scenes video to accompany today’s virtual panel – as you can see below:
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