Aretha Franklin's family 'do not support' new 'Genius' biopic and say series is 'extremely disrespectful'

22 March 2021, 15:07 | Updated: 23 March 2021, 10:50

Aretha Franklin's family have spoken out about new biopic series 'Genius' based on the star's life and say the producers never consulted them
Aretha Franklin's family have spoken out about new biopic series 'Genius' based on the star's life and say the producers never consulted them. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Hamilton

Aretha Franklin's family have spoken out about new biopic series 'Genius' based on the star's life and say the producers never consulted them and they 'do not support it'.

Aretha Franklin's family have spoken of the 'disrespect' they feel towards a new biopic depicting the life of the star.

The National Geographic produced series 'Genius' premiered yesterday (March 21) and sees actress Cynthia Erivo play the late soul singer.

See more: 5 of Aretha Franklin's greatest live performances, from 'Nessun Dorma' to 'Natural Woman'

Franklin’s granddaughter Grace posted a statement on TikTok about the show: “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 said.

Aretha Franklin's family have spoken of the 'disrespect' they feel towards a new biopic depicting the life of the star.
Aretha Franklin's family have spoken of the 'disrespect' they feel towards a new biopic depicting the life of the star. Picture: Getty
Aretha Franklin's son Kecalf (Pictured right with his mother and Clive Davis) says the matter was about “Common, decent respect for our family,”
Aretha Franklin's son Kecalf (Pictured right with his mother and Clive Davis) says the matter was about “Common, decent respect for our family,”. Picture: Getty

“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 that we will not be worked with," she continued.

See more: When Aretha Franklin had to sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ after Pavarotti fell sick at the Grammys, and it was astonishing

"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.”

Franklin's son Kecalf, who is also Grace's father, confirmed his family's concerns to Rolling Stone: “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,” he explained.

See more: Why George Michael and Aretha Franklin's spectacular duet of 'I Knew You Were Waiting' is even better 34 years on

“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.”

“As the immediate family, we feel that it’s important to be involved with any biopic of [Aretha's] life" the family said in a statement. Pictured, Kecalf Franklin pictured with his mother Aretha in 1979.
“As the immediate family, we feel that it’s important to be involved with any biopic of [Aretha's] life" the family said in a statement. Pictured, Kecalf Franklin pictured with his mother Aretha in 1979. Picture: Getty

See more: Aretha Franklin facts: Queen of Soul's age, husbands, children and vocal range explained

“This is about common, decent respect for our family,” he 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.”

A spokesperson for National Geographic released their own statement saying that all parties had the same aim “to honour and celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin”.

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“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,” the production company said.