National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios will release the below, first-look Genius: Aretha teaser during this Sunday’s The Oscars telecast airing on ABC. Cynthia Erivo, a 2020 Academy Award nominee, stars as Aretha Franklin in the third season of the anthology series.
Set to perform “Stand Up” live during Hollywood’s biggest night, Erivo is nominated in two categories: Actress in a Leading Role and Music (Original Song) for the film Harriet (buy at Amazon).
Genius: Aretha will premiere over four consecutive nights, beginning Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, at 9/8c. It will be the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of Aretha Franklin. The eight-part series will explore Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career — and the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.
The cast includes Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway’s The Color Purple) as Aretha Franklin; Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) as C.L. Franklin; David Cross (Goliath, Arrested Development) as Jerry Wexler; Malcolm Barrett (Timeless, Preacher) as Ted White; and Pauletta Washington (She’s Gotta Have It) as Grandmother Rachel.
Also starring are Patrice Covington (Broadway’s The Color Purple) as Erma Franklin; Rebecca Naomi Jones (The Big Sick) as Carolyn Franklin; Steven Norfleet (Watchmen) as Cecil Franklin; Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals) as Ruth Bowen; Omar J. Dorsey (Queen Sugar) as James Cleveland; Marque Richardson (Dear White People) as King Curtis; and introducing Shaian Jordan as Little Re.
Genius dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships.
The third season of the anthology series will explore Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world, in the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul.
Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion; she is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.
Imagine is partnering with Warner Music Entertainment for this third season, which will again be executive produced by Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Suzan-Lori Parks is showrunner and executive producer, and Anthony Hemingway is executive producer and producing director for the season.
Legendary hit record producer Clive Davis and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman have also joined as executive producers.
Returning executive producers include Francie Calfo (Genius, Empire), Ken Biller (Genius: Einstein, Genius: Picasso), Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane (MWM Studios), and Sam Sokolow (EUE/Sokolow). In addition, Imagine’s Anna Culp serves as producer alongside Peter Afterman.