For Cynthia Erivo, the timing seemed perfect:
On May 17, she led a soaring Aretha Franklin medley during the “American Idols” finale …. On May 24, she’s set to sing “Hero” during the “National Memorial Day Concert” … And on May 25, the mini-series “Genius” would start its third edition (shown here), this time with Erivo as Aretha Feranklin.
The only problem: The virus shutdown has now delayed “Genius” until sometime this fall.
Instead, a different mini-series, will get the May 25 slot on the National Geographic Channel. “Barkskins,” based on an Annie Proulx novels about French settlers in the New World, debuts with two episodes at 9 and 10:03 p.m. ET, repeating at 11:03 p.m. and 12:03 a.m.
That’s one of several big-deal, basic-cable shows put on hold. FX’s fourth “Fargo” edition and AMC’s “Walking Dead” spin-off were supposed to be airing now.
For fans of deep and richly layered dramas, that’s been a setback. The first “Fargo” season won an Emmy for best mini-series; the next two were nominated … as were the first two seasons of “Genius.” In all, “Fargo” has had 52 nominations and six wins; “Genius” has 15 nominations and two wins.
Now the third “Genius” was highly anticipated. “By including Aretha Franklin … after Einstein and Picasso, I think Nat Geo is, once again, taking ‘Genius’ to a whole new level,” Suzan Lori-Parks, the playwright who is writing and producing it, told the Television Critics Association in January.
Added Erivo: “I love Aretha. I’ve been listening to her since I was little and I learned to sing and tell stories that way.”
For Erivo – already a Tony-winner for “The Color Purple” – this was going to be a big stretch – two Academy Award nominations (for starring in “Harriet” and co-writing its song), performances on the Oscars and “Idol” and Memorial Day, leading neatly into “Genius.”
Except now that’s been delayed. So has the movie “Respect,” with Jennifer Hudson as Franklin. Once expected in August, it’s now slated for January.