Martin Luther King Jr. will be the titular “Genius” in Nat Geo’s fourth season of the anthology series, Courteney Monroe said Thursday at Disney Investor Day 2020.
Monroe, the president of National Geographic Global Television Networks, also said her main cable channel was working on a documentary about French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.
“Cousteau” will follow Nat Geo’s successes from “Free Solo” (2018), which chronicled professional rock climber Alex Honnold’s attempt to conquer the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park, and “Jane” (2017), which looked at Jane Goodall’s early explorations and research in Tanzania.
Season 1 of “Genius,” which hails from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, centered on Albert Einstein (played by Geoffrey Rush), Season 2 profiled Pablo Picasso (played by Antonio Banderes) and Season 3 covered the life of Aretha Franklin (played by Cynthia Erivo). Originally, Season 3 was intended to tell Mary Shelley’s story, but they couldn’t “crack it creatively,” Monroe said last year.
“We were super excited about Mary Shelley,” Monroe said during the network’s Summer 2019 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour presentation. “The fact is that we just couldn’t find a way to crack it creatively.” Nat Geo had initially slotted Shelley for season 3, before fast-tracking a season about Franklin shortly after her death last summer. At that time, the network was hopeful to do both Shelley and Franklin.
“Our feeling was if we couldn’t do it in a really excellent way, if couldn’t do it right, then we shouldn’t do it,” Monroe continued. “We really tried, we just couldn’t crack it for a limited series.”
Both Rush and Banderes were Emmy-nominated for their performances.