Monday, April 15, 2024

Nat Geo’s “Genius Aretha” Series Got No “Respect” So 8 Part Show Will Be Heavy on 80s Hits Like “Freeway of Love”


National Geographic’s 8 part “Genius Aretha” special launches on March 21st with a reported Emmy worthy knockout performance by Cynthia Erivo. The series is said to be “dazzling” and nevertheless serious about civil rights issues from the 60s.

But if we’re looking for “Respect,” we won’t be hearing it in “Genius.”

I’m told that miniseries is light on early Aretha hits from the 60s like “Respect” and “Think” and even “Natural Woman.” That’s because they were scooped up early for the Jennifer Hudson biopic coming in August from MGM.

Instead, “Genius” will be heavy on Aretha’s 80s hits like “Freeway of Love,” “Jump to It,” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who.” We may also get to hear Erivo perform Aretha’s version of “Nessum Dorma.” Rights to Puccini are open to everyone.

But since the Hudson movie is called “Respect,” they got that iconic Otis Redding song. “Genius” will feature Erivo singing “Don’t Play That Song for Me,” written by Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun, as well as “I Never LovedĀ  a Man (The Way I Love You)” and “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Chain of Fools” as well as Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Insiders are raving about 14 year old Shaian Jordan, by the way, who they say steals the series as Young Aretha.

PS Someone at Nat Geo should take a few minutes and fix their IMDB pages. The three “Genius” series– about Einstein, Picasso, and Franklin– all run together as if they’re one show from 2017. No “Genius” in that.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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