Aretha Franklin: ‘Genius’ third season devoted to the Queen of Soul

Franklin died in August of pancreatic cancer.

Aretha Franklin
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Aretha Franklin performs onstage during the "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" Premiere Concert during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Fans missing Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin will get to enjoy volumes of her work when National Geographic devotes the third season of its anthology series Genius to her, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Pulitzer-winning playwright and screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks will be the executive producer and showrunner, Deadline Hollywood reports. Clive Davis, longtime Franklin collaborator, and Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman will executive produce, according to the news organization. The project is being spearheaded by Brian Grazer of Imagine.

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Franklin died in August of pancreatic cancer. She was 76. Previous versions of Genius have focused on author Mary ShelleyAlbert Einstein and Picasso.

The idea for a focus on Franklin emerged after the singer’s death on Aug. 16, with the major sticking point being whether the show would be able to gain access to her music, Deadline Hollywood reported. Involvement by Davis, Kallman and Warner Music Group became integral to making this happen, and producers are now able to use about 80 percent of Franklin’s catalogue, according to the news organization.

Filming will start this summer and the show will premiere early next year.

“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,” Grazer said in a statement published by Deadline Hollywood. “All through her life she used her voice to elevate people and the causes she believed in, especially the woman’s and civil rights movements.”

Parks won a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog, making her the first Black American woman to read the award. She also was a Pulitzer finalist for her play In the Blood and won a Tony for The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. She also wrote the screenplays for Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Great Debaters

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