Last April, Nat Geo announced that it would be following up its man-centric seasons of anthology Genius with a season about Mary Shelley. Now, though, the network has announced that the Shelley plan has been delayed in favor of a new genius: Aretha Franklin. During a TCA panel today, Nat Geo announced that Pulitzer-winning playwright (and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient!) Suzan-Lori Parks will be executive producing and acting as showrunner for the next season of Genius, replacing Ken Biller, who showran the previous Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso seasons.
According to Deadline, the plan for the Aretha Franklin Genius came about “quickly” after her death last year, with producer Brian Grazer apparently leading the charge. One of the few things that Nat Geo wanted to be sure was in the bag before moving forward was securing the rights to Franklin’s music, and apparently the producers have been able to land “about 80 percent” of her work so far. Deadline says this installment of the anthology “will explore Franklin’s musical genius, incomparable career and the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she had around the world.” A specific premiere date is still a ways off, but Nat Geo is hoping for “an early 2020 premiere.”
As for Mary Shelley, that idea “remains in consideration for future installments.”