Second Aretha Project to Film in Atlanta

With Respect, the Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, now filming in Atlanta, another project focusing on the Queen of Soul is getting underway across town. After focusing on Albert Einstein (portrayed by Geoffrey Rush) and Pablo Picasso (Antonio Banderas) for its first and second seasons, respectively, the third season of cable channel Nat Geo’s Emmy-winning biographical anthology series Genius will spotlight the life and times of Aretha Franklin, with Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, pictured) portraying the music icon. Comedian/actor David Cross has been tapped to play music producer/exec Jerry Wexler, who worked closely with Franklin after she left Columbia Records for Atlantic in the mid-1960s, and produced most of her albums for the latter label. Others confirmed for Genius: Aretha – which will combine archival footage of Franklin with scripted segments, reenactments and sequences of Erivo performing Aretha’s songs – include Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Malcolm Barrett (NBC’s Timeless), Broadway star Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll), Kimberly Hébert Gregory (HBO’s Vice Principals) and Sanai Victoria (The Paynes). Co-executive producer Anthony Hemingway will direct at least the first episode, beginning in early December.