It’s official — the upcoming third season of National Geographic’s scripted anthology series Geniuswill be devoted to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died in August at age 76. The announcement was made Sunday at TCA.
Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner of the project, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios. Music mogul and longtime Franklin collaborator Clive Davis as well as Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.
Genius was renewed for a third season in April, with author Mary Shelley revealed as its subject, to follow Albert Einstein and Picasso. The Mary Shelley story remains in consideration for future installments of the anthology series.
The idea of doing a Franklin-centered Genius came together quickly following the music icon’s August 16 death, spearheaded by Imagine’s Brian Grazer. The project had been moving full steam ahead since, with securing access to Franklin’s music considered the one key element that would clinch a green light.
Bringing David, Kallman and Warner Music Group on board was very important in that aspect, with the producers currently able to use about 80% of Franklin’s catalog and working to secure the remaining titles.
Alicia Keys is making sure hip-hop is giving back in a big way. Chance The Rapper and Salt N Pepa will perform at Keys’ 13th annual Black Ball in NYC on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The annual black tie affair is put on by Keys’ charity Keep a Child Alive (KCA). It was announced earlier this month that A$AP Rocky would be performing along with rock star Patti Smith.
Star-studded events, humanitarian and otherwise, are nothing new to Chano or the ladies. The Chicago rapper just wrapped his Magnificent Coloring Day Festivalin his hometown to celebrate the launch of his charity Social Works Inc. The 23-year-old mixtape star brought out big names like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, 2 Chainz, and Keys to celebrate the day. In fact, Chance has had a long history of helping his city through community efforts.
As for Salt-N-Pepa, the legendary crew has been reppin’ for hip-hop for more than 30 years now. Back in the 1980’s, the Queens duo, along with DJ Spinderella, were among the first rappers to promote safe sex, and were recently honored at VH1’s 2016 Hip Hop Honors.
The 2016 Black Ball will take place at Hammerstein Ballroom on Oct. 19 with a special tribute to legendary music mogul Clive Davis. As always, Alicia Keys will serve as the night’s host. Check out details about how to donate to KCA and attend the Ball here.
Kevin Macdonald, who won an Oscar for “One Day in September,” is to direct a theatrical feature documentary about the life of Whitney Houston. It is the first documentary to be officially authorized by her estate.
The film will be produced by Simon Chinn, who won Oscars for “Man on Wire” and “Searching for Sugar Man,” his Lightbox Media partner Jonathan Chinn (“Fantastic Lies,” “American High”) and Lisa Erspamer (“Running From Crazy”). Altitude Film Sales is introducing the project to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, with U.K. rights acquired by Altitude Film Distribution. Will Clarke, Andy Mayson and Mike Runagall will executive produce.
The film will include an interview with Clive Davis, founder and president of Arista Records, currently chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment, who is acknowledged for bringing Houston to prominence.
Houston broke more records than any other female singer in the history of popular music, with over 200 million album sales worldwide, and inspired a generation of singers from Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga to Beyoncé.