7:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Genius: Aretha' Premiere Date Delayed at National Geographic
National Geographic's Genius: Aretha is the latest TV series to have its premiere date impacted by the global coronavirus crisis.
The anthology, starring Cynthia Erivo as the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, will no longer launch on Memorial Day, May 25. A new premiere date has not been determined as it remains unclear when it will be safe to resume everyday life, including film and TV production.
"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," the Disney-owned cable network said in a statement Monday. "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."
Production on Genius: Aretha was shut down March 13, the same day that hundreds of other scripted and unscripted TV series and films ended work as nationwide quarantines loomed. At the time, all of Disney's TV series — including Grey's Anatomy —went down for a three-week hiatus. Most broadcast shows will not resume work on those "lost" episodes, as Grey's announced last week.
Genius: Aretha was poised to be an awards contender for National Geographic. The premiere date delay arrives days after the TV Academy announced that it would extend the eligibility period to the end of June to accommodate such production delays.
Other series to move off of their planned premiere dates due to production issues include FX's Fargo and the season 10 finale of AMC's The Walking Dead. (AMC also opted to save Walking Dead spinoff World Beyond for later in the year.)