The "Queen of Soul" will be the genius of TV


The first two "Genius" mini-series piled up 16 Emmy nominations and lots of praise. Now comes an interesting switch: The third one will profile Aretha Franklin. That's expected to be in the spring of 2020, but we can get in the mood with a tribute concert next month. Here's the story I sent to papers:

PASADENA, Cal. --
Already the queen of soul, the late Aretha Franklin adds another
title: She's officially a genius, alongside Albert Einstein and Pablo
Picasso.

The National
Geographic Channel's “Genius” mini-series profiled Einstein in
2017 and Picasso in 2018. Now – in a switch that delays the third
round until the spring of 2020 – Franklin is next.

“That was
(producer) Brian Grazer's idea,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of the
National Geographic Channel. “It was too exciting to pass up.”

Grazer and Ron
Howard had planned to focus on Mary Shelley, the “Frankenstein”
author. That's still being developed, Monroe said, but Franklin fits
key points with:

-- Impact. “Aretha
is widely considered to be the greatest singer of her generation.”

-- Time. The series
doesn't profile living people; Franklin died Aug. 16, at 76.

-- And a dramatic
life. “There has to be a great story,” Monroe said. “She was a
mother at age 12 ... and she went on to be a great star.” She was a
gospel prodigy and “an outspoken civil rights champion.”

Franklin was born in
Memphis, lived briefly in Buffalo, but would always be linked with
Detroit. Her family moved there before she was 5 and her father was
pastor of the biggest church in town, with a capacity of 2,500. The
greats – from Sam Cooke to Martin Luther King Jr. -- visited her
home.

Franklin did have
two of her four sons at 12 and 14, but went on to music fame. She
lived in California and New York, but spent her last 36 years in
Detroit.

Rolling Stone's list
of greatest singers puts her at No. 1, topping Ray Charles and Elvis
Presley. Now two of them have TV tributes – Presley on Sunday (Feb.
17) on NBC; Franklin on March 10 on CBS.

-- “Aretha! A
Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul,” 9-11 p.m. March 10, CBS.
Includes Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend,
Celine Dion, Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Shirley
Caesar and more.

-- “Genius”
mini-series on Aretha Franklin, tentatively set for spring of 2020.