In a First for the Franchise, Fourth Installment Will Focus on Two Iconic Geniuses: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
Subsequent Seasons of Emmy® Award-Winning Anthology Series, Produced By Imagine Television and 20th Television, Will Stream on Disney+
Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon Also Join as Showrunners and Executive Producers
(BURBANK, CALIF. – APRIL 20, 2022) Disney+ and National Geographic announced today that Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood will serve as executive producers under their production company Undisputed Cinema on the Disney+ Original limited series “Genius: MLK/X,” produced by Imagine Television Studios and 20th Television. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard return as executive producers.
Click here for images
In a first for the franchise, the new season will focus on two iconic geniuses: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. With three seasons of the critically acclaimed series garnering 20 Emmy nominations and premiering on National Geographic, “Genius” will move to Disney+ for the fourth installment and subsequent seasons.
Also joining “Genius: MLK/X” as showrunners and executive producers are Raphael Jackson, Jr. and Damione Macedon (“The Mosquito Coast,” “Power”), and Jeff Stetson is penning the pilot. Francie Calfo (“Genius,” “Empire”) and Anna Culp (“Genius,” “Under the Banner of Heaven”) return as executive producers.
The fourth season will explore the formative years, pioneering accomplishments, duelling philosophies and key personal relationships of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. While King advanced racial equality through nonviolent protest, Malcolm X argued forcefully for Black empowerment, identity and self-determination. With their formidable wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, by their sides, King and Malcolm X became synonymous with the civil rights era and the fight for racial and economic justice. While they met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.
“Malcolm and Martin are staggering icons, and we have been eager to explore the genius of these two very real men in a way that has not yet been seen,” said the Bythewoods. “We are excited to team up with Imagine Entertainment and 20th Television to reflect their amazing lives and contributions to civil rights and the urgency of today.”
Multihyphenate Reggie Rock Bythewood is creator and showrunner of the Apple TV+ series from Imagine Television “Swagger,” inspired by NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s youth basketball experiences. Bythewood began his professional career writing for the hit comedy series “A Different World,” where he met his future wife, Prince-Bythewood. Years later, after attending the Million Man March, he wrote the script for his first produced screenplay, “Get On The Bus.” Bythewood’s numerous credits include “New York Undercover,” “Dancing in September,” and “Notorious” and Bythewood co-created and executive produced the acclaimed event series “Shots Fired” produced by 20th Television and Imagine Entertainment.
Award-winning director/writer/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood’s next feature film, “The Woman King,” starring Academy Award® winner Viola Davis and international Emmy Award-nominated South African actress Thuso Mbedu and an incredible ensemble, opens in cinemas later this year. Most recently, Prince-Bythewood directed the critically acclaimed Netflix feature “The Old Guard” and will serve as a producer on the sequel. Prince-Bythwood also directed and wrote “Love & Basketball,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Beyond The Lights.” Additionally, Prince-Bythewood co-created and executive produced the acclaimed event series “Shots Fired,” produced by 20th Television and Imagine Entertainment.
Prior to taking the reins on “Genius: MLK/X,” Jackson and Macedon were consulting producers on “The Mosquito Coast” for Apple TV. They were recently under an overall deal at Legendary TV, where they collaborated with director David Leitch and comic icon Ed Brubaker on the adaptation of his Eisner Award-winning comic book, “The Dead and The Dying.” Previously, Jackson and Macedon served as co-executive producers on the 50 Cent-produced hit franchise “Power.” Jackson and Macedon are represented by Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston, Stagecoach Entertainment, and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.
In addition to Calfo and Culp, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane (MWM Studios) and Sam Sokolow (EUE/Sokolow) will return as executive producers.
“Genius” dramatises the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. In 2017, National Geographic premiered the first season of “Genius,” which starred Geoffrey Rush as the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein. “Genius: Einstein” earned 10 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series, as well as Golden Globe® and SAG Award nominations for Rush. The follow-up season, “Genius: Picasso,” starred Antonio Banderas as the titular Spanish painter and matched much of the success of its predecessor, earning seven Emmy nominations — and two wins — as well as Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for Banderas. The third installment, “Genius: Aretha,” starred Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin and premiered as the most-watched telecast for National Geographic in two years. Erivo received Emmy, Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations for her critically acclaimed role as the Queen of Soul.
Disney+ is the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, along with The Simpsons and much more. In select international markets, it also includes the new general entertainment content brand, Star. The flagship direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, Disney+ is part of the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution segment. The service offers commercial-free streaming alongside an ever-growing collection of exclusive originals, including feature-length films, documentaries, live-action and animated series, and short-form content. With unprecedented access to Disney’s long history of incredible film and television entertainment, Disney+ is also the exclusive streaming home for the newest releases from The Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ is available as a standalone streaming service or as part of The Disney Bundle that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. For more, visit disneyplus.com, or find the Disney+ app on most mobile and connected TV devices.
About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivalled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 133 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com.
About Imagine Television
Imagine Television was founded in 1986 by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard to create premium scripted television. Over the years, Imagine’s productions have garnered multiple awards including 202 Emmy nominations. Recent productions include “Genius: Aretha” showrun by Suzan-Lori Parks and starring Cynthia Erivo; “Why Women Kill” for CBS All Access from Marc Cherry; “Swagger” for Apple with Reggie Rock Bythewood and Kevin Durant; “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” for Hulu with The RZA and Alex Tse; and the upcoming FX series “Under The Banner of Heaven” from Dustin Lance Black. Additional productions include Fox’s award-winning series “Empire,” Netflix’s “Arrested Development,” NatGeo’s Emmy®-winning “Genius” anthology series, Fox’s Golden Globe- and Emmy®-winning Best Drama Series “24”; Fox’s “Filthy Rich,” NBC’s Peabody Award-winning series “Friday Night Lights”; Fox’s Emmy®-winning Best Comedy “Arrested Development”; Fox’s “Shots Fired” and “Lie To Me”; WB’s “Felicity”; ABC’s “SportsNight”; and HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon,” which won the Emmy® for Outstanding Mini-Series. Howard and Grazer began their collaboration in the early 1980’s on the hit film comedies “Night Shift” and “Splash,” and continue to run Imagine as executive chairmen.
About 20th Television
One of the Disney Television Studios, 20th Television produces such significant series as Hulu’s comedy hits “Only Murders In The Building” and “How I Met Your Father,” critically acclaimed dramas “The Dropout” and“Dopesick;” ABC’s breakout comedies “Abbott Elementary” and “The Wonder Years;” FX’s blockbuster franchise “American Horror Story,” “Mayans MC” and “The Old Man;” NBC’s top series “This Is Us;” FOX’s No. 1 drama, “9-1-1” and its spinoff “9-1-1: Lone Star” as well as dozens of others. 20th Television shows have amassed a collective 1867 Emmy nominations and 214 Emmy wins, as well as multiple Golden Globes, Humanitas Prizes and Peabody Awards. The studio’s landmark series from its 70 year library include such classics as “Batman,” “Modern Family,” “M*A*S*H,” “Glee,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Bones,” “Empire,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” “24,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “New Girl” and “The X-Files.”
About Undisputed Cinema
Undisputed Cinema produces timely and timeless character-driven stories aimed to challenge audiences’ perspectives in different ways. Undisputed Cinema’s stories show humanity on-screen and create deep connections driven to build empathy between their characters and their viewers. The company has a first look deal with 20th Century Television. As longtime advocates for equal representation in film and television on-screen and behind- the-scenes, they have championed many emerging writers and directors including through mentorships along with Bythewood’s industry town-halls on systemic racism and Prince-Bythewood’s funding a scholarship for African American students in the film program at UCLA, her alma mater.