‘Genius: Aretha’ Suspends Production After Positive COVID-19 Test

EXCLUSIVE: Three weeks after resuming production, filming on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha came to a halt today after a background actor tested positive for COVID-19, sources said. I hear production was suspended for the day. It is unclear at the moment how long the shutdown will last; such decisions are often made day by day. Genius studio Touchstone Television declined comment.

Genius: Aretha, about the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, had filmed 5 1/2 episodes of its eight-episode order when production shut down mid-March amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Two weeks later, Nat Geo delayed the premiere of the limited series, originally slated for May 25, for “later this year.” An early 2021 debut is now considered a possibility.

After extensive prep work, Genius: Aretha restarted production on October 1 in Atlanta.

Genius: Aretha, from Imagine Television and Touchstone TV, is the third installment of the Nat Geo anthology. It is dubbed as the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the Queen of Soul. Production originally kicked off in December on the series, starring Cynthia Erivo as Franklin and co-starring 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. T.I., Antonique Smith and Tina Fears are recurring. Anthony Hemingway is executive producer and director.

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