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Premiere for ‘Genius: Aretha’ Starring Cynthia Erivo Delayed

National Geographic

The latest installment in the “Genius” series, in which Cynthia Erivo plays singer Aretha Franklin, will no longer premiere on May 25 on National Geographic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Production on “Genius: Aretha” is still suspended amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, and now an alternative release date will have to be determined in due course.

It marks the latest television series to be affected by production delays, including “The Walking Dead,” which had to delay the release date for the tenth season finale to later in the year after failing to be completed in time.

Other cast members starring alongside Erivo include Emmy Winner Courtney B. Vance (“American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson”), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), Malcolm Barrett (“Timeless”), Rebecca Naomi Jones (“The Big Sick”) and Kimberly Hebert Gregory (“Five Feet Apart”).

The Hollywood Reporter published the following statement from the network, giving more details on the premiere date delay:

“Production on National Geographic’s limited series Genius: Aretha (from Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios) remains suspended and it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced Memorial Day airdate. 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. 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.”

Both previous seasons of “Genius” received tremendous acclaim, with both being nominated for Outstanding Limited Series as well as half a dozen below-the-line categories. The first season featured Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein while the second starred Antonio Banderas as the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Both leading men earned Best Actor nominations for their respective years.

It is unlikely that the series will be able to meet the Emmy Awards deadline now, having been touted as a top contender previously. The Hollywood Reporter writes that “the TV Academy announced that it would extend the eligibility period to the end of June to accommodate such production delays” however it is extremely unlikely production will re-open and finish by this timeframe. The series is undoubtedly going to bring Erivo her first Primetime Emmy nomination, but it looks as though that will have to wait another year.

Production will not resume until the safety of those involved can be guaranteed, so there is no real timescale on when “Genius: Aretha” will finally reach audiences.

What are your thoughts on the premiere date of “Genius: Aretha” being postponed? Let us know in the comments below!


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Written by Bradley Weir

Recently graduated from the UK with a degree in film. Passionate about all things movies, especially the awards season!

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