Nat Geo Delays ‘Genius: Aretha’ Premiere Date Due To COVID-19-Related Production Shutdown

National Geographic’s forthcoming Genius: Aretha will no longer debut on May 25. The limited series about the legendary singer Aretha Franklin starring Cynthia Erivo will premiere at a later to-be-announced date due to production delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement below was sent to Deadline from National Geographic.

Production on National Geographic’s limited series Genius: Aretha (from Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios) remains suspended and it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced Memorial Day airdate. We look forward to resuming work as soon as is possible and safe, and at that time will announce a new premiere date for later this year.

We cannot wait to let Aretha’s voice sing, and in the words of the Queen herself, “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”

In that spirit, we wish all of our viewers well in these challenging times, particularly those who are working in our communities to keep us all safe.

Earlier this month, Disney Television Studios announced that they would be suspending production on the limited series for at least three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. The studio, comprised of 20th Century Fox, ABC Studios and Genius producer Fox 21, also postponed the start of production on all of its in-cycle pilots.

Genius: Aretha joins a growing list of shows forced to shift their premiere dates due to the coronavirus-imposed mass production shutdowns. The fourth installment of FX’s Fargo starring Chris Rock pushed its previously scheduled April 19 premiere to a date to be determined. The second season of the CW’s In the Dark will premiere April 16, more than a month ahead of its previously scheduled date of May 28, to fill the hole left by Legacies, which has aired all of its episodes that completed production prior to shutting down. The CW also is moving up the network premiere of DC’s Stargirl by a week, to Tuesday, May 19 at 8 PM. It will succeed The Flash, which will have wrapped its abbreviated season by May 12.

Genius: Aretha is the third installment of the Nat Geo anthology, following Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. It is dubbed as the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the Queen of Soul. Production kicked off in December and the series also stars Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Shaian Jordan, Marque Richardson, Pauletta Washington, Steven Norfleet and Omar J. Dorsey. The series recently added T.I., Antonique Smith and Tina Fears in recurring roles while Ethan Henry signed on as a guest star. Anthony Hemingway executive produces and directs the pilot episode.

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