Aretha Franklin is the undoubted Queen of Soul and next year, she may become the Queen of TV too. Nat Geo announced over the weekend that Franklin will serve as the subject for the third season of their scripted anthology series, Genius. The lives of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso were chronicled by the first two seasons, respectively. Franklin passed away last August at the age of 76.
Nat Geo also announced that Susan-Lori Parks will serve as showrunner for the upcoming season. Parks is the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog. She will serve as executive producer alongside music mogul Clive Davis, who often collaborated with Franklin, and Craig Kallman, the CEO of Atlantic Records.
Davis spoke on his relationship with Franklin and shared his excitement for the series over the weekend: “Aretha and I shared a 40-year friendship, ever since she cooked me dinner to talk about working together to reinvigorate her career. I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with her and her incredible instrument. She was a gift to the world, one that will last for many generations. I am thrilled to be celebrating her genius with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Imagine.”
Imagine Entertainment is producing the season in conjunction with Warner Music, allowing them to include many of Franklin’s hits. Imagine’s Brian Grazer, who will also serve as executive producer, released a statement regarding the show’s next season:
“Aretha Franklin had the ability to empower generations through her iconic music, and I’m excited to finally be able to tell her story, a career passion of mine. All through her life, she used her voice to elevate people and the causes she believed in, especially the women’s and civil rights movements. You can hear the hopes and sorrows of a divided nation in her soulful voice, penetrating and motivating people at their core in a deeply emotional way. She cut through the pain of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to help heal and unite America with her music and, in the process, ushered in the post-gospel era of rhythm and blues. We’re so grateful she shared her genius with the world.”
Genius was originally renewed for a third season last April with author Mary Shelley planned as the subject. However, following Franklin’s August 16th passing, the network pivoted to celebrate the late performer’s massively influential career. The Mary Shelley story will still be considered for future possible seasons.
Genius: Aretha Franklin doesn’t have a cast or release date yet but it’s safe to assume we won’t see anything until at least early next year.