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‘Genius’ Season 2 Paints Pablo Picasso, Exec Producer Ron Howard Announces; No Comment On Han Solo Though

Deadline logo Deadline 6/21/2017 Greg Evans
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Painter Pablo Picasso will be the subject of National Geographic’s second season of Genius, a subject described by exec producer Ron Howard as enigmatic, “tremendously fascinating and inspiring.”

Howard said in a conference call to reporters this morning that Picasso stimulates “curiosity” among people, and that although the great Spanish artist is a “household name,” most people “don’t really know what drove him, troubled him,” and how “through turbulence” he achieved artistic greatness.

The conference call — in which Howard declined to take any questions not connected to Genius, including yesterday’s big Deadline exclusive that he is being considered to take over direction of the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — comes the morning after the first Genius season about Albert Einstein wrapped with its finale. Casting on Season 2 has not begun.

Howard and Genius showrunner/executive producer Ken Biller said the choice of Picasso as Einstein’s follow-up was made after months of considering possibilities.

“We discussed many, many figures for Season 2,” said Biller, “and Pablo Picasso was probably the first one.” Biller added that after discussing many candidates, including various female geniuses, the team “inexorably circled back to” Picasso. “We felt his story was really rich and emotional and passionate and controversial.”

The new season, from Fox 21 Television Studios, will again be executive produced by Brian Grazer and Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow, and will premiere in 2018. For Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment, exec producers are Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane.

Howard said the Einstein season and Geoffrey Rush’s performance in last night’s two-part finale “makes me very, very proud” and serves as “great proof of concept” in the Genius anthology format.

Biller said there was no one Picasso tale or anecdote that convinced the team of his worthiness, but rather that the painter exemplified the notion that “genius is not only about scientists.”

Asked whether female geniuses were considered, Biller said yes, but that history’s inclination to exclude women from its official versions made “the pool smaller.” He promised that a female genius would be chronicled in an upcoming season, and that the women in Picasso’s life would play major roles in the new season.

As in Season 1, the main character will be portrayed in both young and old versions, though Season 2 will be less linear in structure.

Filming of Season 2 is expected to begin later this summer for a 2018 premiere on National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and 45 languages.

“Season 1 has been a fantastic experience for all of us, and we owe a big debt to Courteney, Carolyn and the Nat Geo team for being such great partners,” said Bert Salke, president of Fox 21 Television Studios, in a statement. “Picasso is arguably one of the most influential artists of the last century with a life story almost too fantastic to be reality. It’s the perfect next chapter for Ron, Brian, Ken and this franchise.”

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