Aretha Franklin to be Next Subject of NatGeo's 'Genius' Series

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Aretha Fanklin photographed in London on July 28, 1972.

A roundup of news Sunday (Feb. 10) from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, where TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.


The late singer Aretha Franklin will be the subject of the National Geographic network’s third installment of its Genius series.

The network said on Sunday that its next miniseries will feature the “Queen of Soul,” who died last year. She’s pushing author Mary Shelley back. National Geographic said last year that the Frankenstein author would be its third Genius, but said Sunday Shelley will be used for a later season.

Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso were the first two focuses of the Genius series.

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks will be the executive producer running the show. Music moguls Clive Davis and Craig Kellman of Atlantic Records will also offer their expertise, said Courteney Monroe, National Geographic president.

“We could not be more excited about this next season,” she said.


The National Geographic network says it will begin producing a television series based on The Right Stuff, author Tom Wolfe’s account of the beginning of the U.S. space program. Among the creators involved are Leonardo DiCaprio, whose production company is putting the project together, and David Nutter of Game of Thrones, who will direct the premiere episode of the series. Production is set to begin in the fall.

The first season takes place at the height of the Cold War, when the nation’s first seven astronauts were selected. Subsequent seasons will address the Apollo space program and the first moon landing.