Multiple-award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo has entered Golden Globes race with two nominations, one for her starring performance as famous abolitionist and American hero Harriet Tubman in the Focus Features biopic, Harriet, as well as for the film’s original song Stand Up which co-wrote with Joshuah Brian Campbell.
“Finally, we get to see her,” proclaimed Erivo while speaking to Deadline following this morning’s announcements. “I think she's been a picture for so long or a monument. Our history books don't really talk about her life. She's almost a paragraph and only a paragraph. Now we get to at least have an image. We get to know a little bit more of who she was as a person. Hopefully what that will do is encourage more storytellers to tell her story again and again.”
Through the song, Erivo “wanted to reencourage people to know that we have a responsibility to fight just like she did.”
“I wanted people to know that the work that she did was special and important. I wanted to pay homage to who she was and what she had done and the legacy she had left behind which is probably why it ends with the line 'I go to prepare a place for you' which was her final line [before she passed away]”
Going from one iconic female figure to another, Erivo will be taking on the role of legendary crooner Aretha Franklin in the National Geographic anthology series, Genius.
“We are flipping through about 30 years of her life, from the 60s into the 90s, and we're going back and forth in time. So you're seeing where she is now and where she's come from as a little girl and what led to her the performer. It's an exploration of how she's a genius and how her genius came about, the way in which she makes her music and the influences that took her there,” said Erivo.
“So it's about, for me, the reading and learning of her music, which I know efficiently because I've been singing it since I was a little girl, and now reintroducing myself to her and getting to know her on a more personal basis. She's an interesting woman with a full and, at times, a heartbreaking life but somehow managed to come through all of that and create brilliance.”
On how the two roles relate to one another, Erivo remarked, “For me, it's about telling the story of women who on the outset are very different but who have a particular kind of strength and they strive to be great not because of anyone other than themselves. They somehow find steel within themselves that tells them what they are supposed to be doing. They find their purpose and go straight forward.”
Two years after Aretha Franklin‘s death, Hollywood is looking to immortalize the Queen of Soul in two separate projects. And after one of them, MGM’s feature film called Respect, was pushed into an awards season-friendly date last week, National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha has been postponed until later in the year.
Respect, the feature film debut from The Walking Dead and Jessica Jones director Liesl Tommy, stars Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, the incredibly gifted singer with the highest number of songs on the Billboard charts in history. Hudson’s performance is supposed to be incredible in that movie, with her “mind-blowing” dailies causing MGM to shift the movie to a more awards-friendly Christmas Day release.
But National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha, which has Broadway star and nascent movie star Cynthia Erivo in the lead role, has been delayed for a different reason: the coronavirus outbreak forced them to shut down before production was completed. The network released a statement to Variety which reads in part “it has become clear that the series will not be completed in time for our previously announced Memorial Day airdate”:
“We look forward to resuming work as soon as is possible and safe, and at that time will announce a new premiere date for later this year. We cannot wait to let Aretha’s voice sing, and in the words of the Queen herself, ‘Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.’ In that spirit, we wish all of our viewers well in these challenging times, particularly those who are working in our communities to keep us all safe.”
Genius is NatGeo’s anthology series focusing on a different person each season. Season one which centered on Albert Einstein earned ten Emmy nominations, while season 2 which centered on Pablo Picasso was nominated seven times and won two. Unfortunately for Erivo and the rest of the cast and crew, the delayed release of Genius: Aretha almost certainly means they won’t be able to meet this year’s Emmy eligibility deadline of May 31, 2020. No official premiere date has been set yet, but considering there’s still some filming to do and most productions like this require relatively large crews, it may be a while yet before we get to see Erivo let loose as the Queen of Soul. In the meantime, listen to the mega-talented performer belting out a classic Isley Brothers song in Bad Times at the El Royale:
The Television Academy is adjusting the eligibility and voting deadlines for this year’s Primetime Emmy calendar in response to concerns made by TV communication executives and awards strategists in the current coronavirus climate.
The dates for the Creative Emmy Awards and Primetime Emmy shows remain unchanged respectively on Sept. 12-13 and Sept. 20, and will only be moved should state and national safety directives deem them to be, should the coronavirus worsen.
This morning’s big changes involve the entry deadline moving close to four weeks from May 11 to June 5, and the Phase one voting period jumping from June 15-29 to July 2-13 with the new nominations announcement date being July 28 instead of July 14. The Phase one period thus shrinks from 15 days to 12 days.
Phase 2 voting, which was originally set for Aug 17-31, will start slightly later, and shave off four days, now occurring between Aug. 21-31.
Also being extended is the eligibility date for hanging episodes for regular series and limited series, as the TV Academy takes into account production and programming delays. Now, all hanging episodes must broadcast or post on an accessible platform by June 30, instead of May 31. Both regular and limited series must still premiere by the end of this year’s eligibility date which remains May 31. A minimum of six episodes continues to be required for a show to be qualified in the series category. A limited series in its entirety must air or post on a platform before June 30, and if it doesn’t, then the limited series will qualify in the 2020-2021 Emmy year.
Meanwhile, all TV Academy FYC events “whether with a live audience, streaming or recorded for posting on a viewing platform” per the org remain suspended for the current Emmy season.
In recent weeks, the TV Academy appeared to be standing firm on their original voting and eligibility dates. However, TV publicists and Emmy campaign strategists reportedly voiced their reservations about promoting too heavily and too soon, thus wanting to exercise a greater degree of sensitivity in a spring that’s been rocked by COVID-19: Many productions have shut down, leaving many out of work, and the whole atmosphere across the nation is rather dour as we all self quarantine. Emmy season has traditionally been decked with glam marketing, billboards, food trucks, stunt events, big DVD boxes and soirees. Earlier this year, to tame some of that, the TV Academy banned DVD mailers to voters, and in doing so, favored online screeners. The hope here with the TV Academy’s tweaking of the FYC calendar is that we’ll be on the other side of the curve in regards to coronavirus, and in a lighter-spirited environment. Between the entertainment capitals, New York City currently counts 23K COVID-19 cases and 365 deaths as of yesterday while Los Angeles counts 1,2K cases...