Nat Geo ‘Not Moving Forward’ With Mary Shelley ‘Genius’ Season

TCA 2019: “We just couldn’t find a way to crack it creatively,” says Nat Geo president Courteney Monroe

'Genius' Season 3
Nat Geo

Nat Geo is “not moving forward” with its planned “Genius” season on “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley, the network’s president Courteney Monroe said on Tuesday.

“We were super excited about Mary Shelley,” Monroe said during the network’s TCA 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.

“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.”

The season based on Franklin will premiere in 2020. It follows two previous seasons starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein and Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso, marking the first time the series will center on a woman. Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks will serve as writer and showrunner.

She is joined by record producer Clive Davis and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman as executive producers. Warner Music Group has joined Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Entertainment to produce the third season. With the label’s participation, the series will feature many of Franklin’s songs and recordings, including “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Chain of Fools,” “Don’t Play That Song,” “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Baby I Love You.” It will also feature Franklin’s performances of “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” “Freeway of Love” and “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.”

Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Francie Calfo; Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM Studios; and Sam Sokolow of EUE/Sokolow Entertainment are executive producers. Imagine’s Anna Culp will serve as producer alongside Peter Afterman.