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Cynthia Erivo-starring “Genius: Aretha” series delayed due to pandemic

The forthcoming Aretha Franklin-inspired series will no longer premiere on May 25.

Aretha Franklin Getty

The Aretha Franklin-centered “Genius” series has been postponed due to Coronavirus-related delays. The biographical limited series was set to premiere on May 25 via National Geographic. However, with production suspended, the network has now announced “that the series will not be completed in time” for its “previously announced Memorial Day airdate.”

According to Variety, a new premiere date for the series has yet to be revealed.

“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,” a statement from the network reads. “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.”

Cynthia Erivo, who starred in the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, is set to portray the legendary singer. The Grammy Award-winning actress will be joined by Courtney B. Vance, David Cross, Malcolm Barrett, Pauletta Washington, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Steven Norfleet, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Omar J. Dorsey, Marque Richardson and Shaian Jordan.

“There’s something super mysterious about her,” Erivo said of Franklin during an interview with NowThis entertainment. “There’s this beautiful way that she speaks.”

Erivo was first introduced to Franklin after she starred in The Color Purple on Broadway. Franklin had been in the audience and went to meet Erivo after the show.

“There is something to be said about meeting your hero,” Erivo reflected. “It’s special. It’s something you just don’t forget.”

Unfortunately, the Jennifer Hudson-starring Franklin biopic Respect has also been delayed due to the pandemic. According to Deadline, the picture has been postponed from its original October release date to Christmas Day.

Watch the “Genius: Aretha” trailer below.

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