Cynthia Erivo—a double Oscar nominee this year for her starring role in the movie Harriet and for writing and singing the movie’s theme song, “Stand Up”—stars as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in National Geographic’s third installment of its Genius franchise.
The above teaser, which Nat Geo released Friday on YouTube, will air during ABC’s telecast of the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 9. What the spot definitely leaves the viewer wanting is footage of Erivo belting out some of Franklin’s hits, but that’s certainly on tap for the series.
The eight-part limited scripted series also stars Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) as Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin; David Cross (Arrested Development) as Jerry Wexler; Malcom Barrett as Ted White; Pauletta Washington as Grandmother Rachel; Patrice Covington as Erma Franklin; Rebecca Naomi Jones as Carolyn Franklin; Steve Norfleet as Cecil Franklin; Kimberly Hébert Gregory as Ruth Bowen; Omar J. Dorsey as James Cleveland; Marque Richardson as King Curtis; and introduces Shaian Jordan as Little Re.
The series comes from National Geographic, Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television, which is partnering with Warner Music Entertainment to have access to Franklin’s music. Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard executive producer. Suzan-Lori Parks is showrunner and executive producer, while Anthony Hemingway is executive producer and this season’s producing director. Legendary record producer Clive Davis and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman are also executive producers. Returning executive producers include Francie Calfo, Ken Biller, Gigi Pritzker, Rachel Shane and Sam Sokolow. Imagine’s Anna Culp serves as producer alongside Peter Afterman.
Genius: Aretha debuts Memorial Day, May 25, at 8/7 c and then airs for four consecutive nights on National Geographic. The series will air in 172 countries and in 43 languages on National Geographic Channels.
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