Pretty much the only thing the producers of “Genius Aretha” got right last night was the Queen of Soul’s relationship with Clive Davis. It was the first time in 8 hours of mishegos that I felt someone had an idea of how Aretha interacted with people she knew and loved.
Otherwise, Episode 8 was a mess like the rest of “Genius.” Absent from Aretha’s story into the 80s were people like Luther Vandross, a great friend and her producer; and her boyfriend Willie Wilkerson. Most of “Genius” was just a cherry pick of facts without any context. Aretha’s family is furious, and her friends know better. This was not Aretha’s story.
Today my friend would have turned 79. She is sorely missed by everyone, not just fans and her devoted relatives, but all of her friends who loved her. I don’t know who of the people I know put themselves through “Genius.” I know a lot of them skipped it. It was so much easier than torture.
Aretha had a lot of joy in her life. She loved to celebrate her birthday. Every year there was a big party. Lots of celebrities, musicians, laughter, cake– lots of cake!– friends, toasts. One of her favorite spots was the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South, formerly the St. Moritz. She loved turning the lobby tea room into her private party spot. Plenty of people flew in from Detroit. There was a lot of happiness.
Happy, happy birthday, Aretha. You survived the mini series. Your legacy continues.