aretha-franklin’s-household-protest-about-national-geographic’s-genius-biopic

By Mark Savage

BBC music reporter

picture copyrightNational Geographic

picture captionBritish actress Cynthia Erivo performs Aretha Franklin within the National Geographic sequence

Aretha Franklin’s household have denounced a brand new dramatisation of the singer’s life, saying they weren’t consulted and “do not support” the present.

Genius: Aretha stars British Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo, and is being proven on National Geographic within the US.

The channel stated it had permission to make the “tribute to Aretha’s genius”.

But the household say they have been minimize out of the manufacturing course of and requested followers to boycott it, saying: “This is about common, decent respect for our family.”

The Queen of Soul’s granddaughter Grace posted a video of her protesting towards the present alongside her dad and mom, siblings and buddies final week.

In a TikTok clip, they are often seen chanting: “This movie has to go! This movie has to go!”

“As the immediate family, we feel that it’s important to be involved with any biopic of my grandma’s life, as it’s hard to get any accurate depiction of anyone’s life without speaking to the ones closest to them,” she defined.

“During the process of writing, directing, and filming this movie, we’ve reached out to Genius as a family on multiple occasions where we have been disrespected and told we will not be worked with.

“As the rapid household – emphasis on rapid – we don’t help this movie and we ask that you simply additionally don’t help this movie, as we really feel extraordinarily disrespected, and we really feel there can be many inaccuracies about my grandmother’s life.”

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionAretha Franklin’s music moved millions of people and sound-tracked social change over five decades

Aretha Franklin was one of the biggest stars of pop, soul, gospel and R&B, who scored more than 100 hit singles on the US Billboard charts – from Chain of Fools and Respect to Think and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Her extraordinary success was matched by an equally dramatic personal life, in which she survived abusive relationships and worked with civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King.

A separate big-screen biopic of her life was already in production when she died of pancreatic cancer in 2018. Starring Jennifer Hudson, it has been produced with input from the family and is due to hit screens this summer.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionJennifer Hudson was hand-picked by Aretha to star in the forthcoming movie Respect

National Geographic’s eight-part series was announced in 2019, and the star’s family said their efforts to contact the producers were rebuffed.

“What we have discovered previously is that often when individuals do not wish to work with you, that may be a prelude to some sort of unprofessional behaviour or a prelude to some sort of untruth or slander, so we’re not fairly certain the place we will see on this sequence,” Franklin’s son Kecalf told Rolling Stone magazine.

The family admitted they had not seen the programme, which was largely written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. They did not intend to watch the first two episodes when they were broadcast on Sunday, Kecalf added.

Responding to the Franklin family’s criticism, National Geographic noted that it had permission to make the film from Franklin’s estate, which is currently a separate entity amid disputes over the singer’s will.

However, that permission did not extend to licensing her biggest songs, including Respect and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

The channel added that the intention of the Genius series, which has previously depicted the lives of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, was a “tribute to Aretha’s genius – one thing we hope we are able to all rejoice”.

“We obtained the message from the household, we hear them and acknowledge their concern for Ms Franklin’s legacy,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We suppose we’ve a shared aim right here – to honour and rejoice the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin. We can let you know that everybody who labored on Genius: Aretha approached telling her story with the intention to respect Ms Franklin in each side of the sequence and in each resolution we made.”

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Early reviews for the series have been mixed.

Critics praised Erivo’s performances which, according to The Guardian, “brings out the swaggering sensuality of Franklin’s artistry”, but they were less convinced by the “overfamiliar biopic beats” (The New York Times) and a narrative that “tangles the characters and storytelling in irritating knots” (Variety).

“As an prolonged biopic, Aretha is serviceable and pretty thorough,” concluded The Chicago Sun-Times. “As a showcase for one of many nice stars of our time taking part in one of many biggest stars of all time, it is a hit.”

Plans to show the mini-series in the UK have yet to be announced.

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