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Aretha Franklin's Family Slams NatGeo's 'Genius' Limited Series for Ignoring Them

Aretha Franklin‘s family is not happy with the upcoming NatGeo limited series Genius: Aretha based on the late singer’s life.

Last week, Aretha‘s granddaughter Grace Franklin took to TikTok to share a video protesting the show, which she claims ignored them.

“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,” Grace said.

“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,” Grace continued. “As the immediate family — emphasis on immediate — we do not support this film and we ask that you also do not support this film, as we feel extremely disrespected, and we feel there will be many inaccuracies about my grandmother’s life.”

Grace‘s message comes after her dad Kecalf Franklin, Aretha‘s son, publicly denounced the project, claiming the Genius producers didn’t want the family’s input on the series.

“What we’ve found out in the past is that usually when people don’t want to work with you, that is a prelude to some type of unprofessional behavior or a prelude to some type of untruth or slander, so we’re not quite sure where we’re going to see in this series,” Kecalf said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “That’s usually the case when people say that they don’t want to work with you.”

NatGeo began production on Genius in 2019, less than a year after Aretha passed away. Kecalf said communication between the network and the family ended after his cousin Sabrina Garrett-Owens resigned from her post as representative of Aretha’s personal estate. By the time she left her position, the family and NatGeo had not reached an agreement on their involvement in the series. When the family attempted to re-establish an agreement, Kecalf claims NatGeo didn’t want to work with them.

“We had our lawyers reach out to them and see if we could have some type of input and see the film and say what we like and what we didn’t like about it,” Kecalf said. “And the report that we got back was saying that it was too late, production had already wrapped up and that they didn’t want to work with us. It was basically too late.”

He continued, “It seems as if the final editing hadn’t been done, that there was something that could have been done in that area, maybe after we had previewed it. They did send a non-disclosure agreement but the terms in that contract, they weren’t giving us creative control or anything like that as well. So it’s kind of like they just wanted us to check it out. But if we didn’t like it then, ‘Oh well. Sorry.’”

For Kecalf, he says that the miscommunication with NatGeo isn’t about money, but more along the lines of “respect.”

“This is about common, decent respect for our family,” Kecalf said. “If I was to do a movie on your family, I would try and speak with you, your sons, daughters, grandchildren and people like that. And we just never felt like we got a shot to speak to them freely from my heart about our family member.”

NatGeo then released a statement regarding the situation, saying, “We think we have a shared goal here – to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin. We can tell you that everyone who worked on ‘Genius: Aretha’ approached telling her story with the intention to respect Ms. Franklin in every aspect of the series and in every decision we made. The studio worked diligently to attain the endorsement of Aretha’s estate, which we are grateful to have.”

The NatGeo rep added, “We worked with many people who knew Ms. Franklin — from Clive Davis to members of her family’s estate — to make sure we told her story in an honest and authentic way.”

Genius: Aretha, starring Cynthia Erivo premieres on Sunday, March 21 at 9/8c on NatGeo, with two episodes per night through Thursday, March 25.

Cynthia Erivo Shares the 'Genius: Aretha' Artwork on Her Birthday!

Cynthia Erivo will be playing Aretha Franklin in the upcoming National Geographic anthology series Genius: Aretha and she just shared the first look at the key art!

The eight-part limited series will explore Aretha’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.

Today is Cynthia‘s 34th birthday and she marked the special day by sharing the artwork on her Instagram page.

“Today is my birthday and I couldn’t be prouder of the chance to tell the story of the Queen of Soul. She sang the songs for the feelings our hearts couldn’t find the words for. She told stories with the melodies she weaved and was unafraid to speak truth to power,” Cynthia said.

The series will premiere on National Geographic in March.

Click inside to see the full key art… More Here! »

Jennifer Hudson's 'Respect' Delayed by Seven Months Amid Pandemic

Jennifer Hudson‘s Respect is getting pushed back once again.

The upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, which was already moved to January 15, 2021, will now be released on August 11, 2021, MGM announced on Tuesday (October 27).

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Jennifer Hudson

The move comes as many studios scramble to figure out the best launch date for their projects amid the pandemic and theater restrictions due to social distancing regulations.

Here’s a plot summary: “following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.”

A trailer for the film was released back in June.

Jennifer Hudson might be part of another exciting musical project launching very soon, according to fan speculation.

Jennifer Hudson Pays Tribute to Aretha Franklin Two Years After Her Death

Jennifer Hudson is honoring Aretha Franklin.

The 38-year-old Oscar-winning entertainer took to Instagram on Sunday (August 16) to remember the late R&B legend on the two-year anniversary of her death.

“Something tells me that you are walking around heaven singing all day !” Jennifer wrote along with a black and white photo of Aretha. “I know u got your mansion, far more than just standing room ! Singing in the heavenly choir ! Still Can’t believe we lost you 2 years ago today . I truly miss hearing from you !”

Aretha passed away in 2018 at age 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Jennifer will be playing Aretha in the upcoming biopic titled Respect, which is scheduled to hit theaters in January 2021. You can check out the trailer here.

Find out how Jennifer Hudson is helping out students returning to school in Chicago amid the pandemic.

Jennifer Hudson Transforms Into Aretha Franklin in 'Respect' Trailer - Watch!

The trailer for the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect has been released!

Jennifer Hudson transforms into the Queen of Soul for the upcoming movie.

Here’s a plot summary: following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan, Heather Headley, Skye Dakota Turner, and Mary J. Blige all star in the film.

Respect was originally supposed to be released in theaters on October 9, but because of the pandemic, the film will now have a limited release on Christmas day, before a wide release on January 15.

Jennifer recently opened up about the “massive” pressure of playing Aretha in the biopic.

jennifer hudson aretha franklin biopic respect

See Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin In Brand New Image From 'Genius'

Cynthia Erivo looks so much like Aretha Franklin in this brand new image from the upcoming season of Genius.

The new pic shows the actress on stage in 1967 at the Regal Theater in Chicago performing “Save Me” with her sisters Carolyn (Rebecca Naomi Jones) and Erma (Patrice Covington) supporting her.

The image was released in celebration of what would’ve been the singer’s 78th birthday.

National Geographic is also making a donation to Feeding America in her name, in recognition of the difficult times we are currently in.

The series will explore the legendary singer’s life and musical genius as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.

Genius: Aretha will premiere on Monday, May 25 and air over four consecutive at 9 p.m. on National Geographic.

Watch the first teaser here!

cynthia erivo aretha new image 01

Cynthia Erivo Embodies Aretha Franklin in First 'Genius: Aretha' Teaser

The first teaser of Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin is here for Genius: Aretha and it’s stunning.

The eight-part limited series, which will be produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, is set to premiere on May 25,

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Cynthia Erivo

“Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing myself to embody the Queen of Soul, from re-listening to her music to discovering her rare interviews and reading some amazing books on her – all to really capture Aretha‘s attitude and spirit,” Cynthia shared about her role as the iconic music star.

She added, “I’m truly humbled to be working alongside a very talented and musical team. Together, we’ll serve the Queen and create something special.”

Watch the first teaser below!

You can see another first look image of Cynthia as Aretha here!