Another series whose production was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic has successfully finished its season. Genius: Aretha, the third installment in National Geographic’s anthology series, wrapped production today in Atlanta. The show commemorated the occasion with photos on Instagram featuring star Cynthia Erivo as music icon Aretha Franklin as well as executive producer/showrunner Suzan-Lori Parks, who sent the cast and crew a welcome-back note the day the series resumed production last month, and executive producer/director Anthony Hemingway.
The caption accompanying the photos notes that Genius: Aretha will debut in 2021.
Genius: Aretha, about the legendary “Chain of Fools” singer, had filmed 5 1/2 episodes of its eight-episode order when production shut down mid-March amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Two weeks later, Nat Geo delayed the premiere of the limited series, originally slated for May 25, for “later this year.” An early 2021 debut had been considered a more likely scenario given the lengthy pandemic-related hiatus, and that has now been confirmed. Genius: Aretha, from Imagine Television and Touchstone TV, is expected to premiere before the Aretha Franklin movie biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, whose release was recently pushed to August 2021.
After extensive prep work, Genius: Aretha restarted production on October 1 in Atlanta. Three weeks later, filming came to a halt for a couple of days after a background actor tested positive for Covid-19, an issue many productions grapple with amid a new wave of infections. The wrap on the eight-episode series comes almost a year after filming started last December.
Genius: Aretha is dubbed as the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the Queen of Soul. Erivo stars as Franklin, joined by Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Shaian Jordan, Marque Richardson, Pauletta Washington, Steven Norfleet and Omar J. Dorsey. T.I., Antonique Smith and Tina Fears are recurring. Hemingway is executive producer and director. Parks is executive producer/showrunner. Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard as well as Clive Davis and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.
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