TVNZ 1 Grounds Manifest to Respect Aretha

TVNZ 1 is pulling Saturday’s broadcast of Manifest to screen Aretha! A Grammy Tribute to the Queen of Soul.

The Tyler Perry-fronted special features the likes of Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Celine Dion, Patti Labelle and John Legend performing Aretha Franklin’s most memorable songs.

It aired a year ago in the US, so why the rush to pre-empt Manifest is unclear — but the Saturday drama would have been the easiest primetime show of the week to drop given its ratings and soft slot (it will resume on March 14).

“Nothing can live up to the deeply inimitable texture of Aretha’s own voice, as the occasional vintage clips of her make clear — not even the power and skill of a LaBelle or Adams — but this ‘Grammy Celebration’ is the best testimony and simulacrum that mortal voices could accomplish,” Variety said.

The Los Angeles Times dubbed it an “affectionate tribute concert … [that] mixed sensible renditions of the honoree’s work with moments that made you wonder which competing interests were at the wheel”.

Did Aretha! make clear that artists love and respect Franklin and her music? Of course. But the show stopped short of explaining or unpacking that connection; it didn’t add to (or contradict) what we already know about her and her inheritors, and that felt unworthy of a creative genius whose music was always raising questions about race and gender and age.

Meanwhile, last month Hudson wrapped production on the Franklin biopic Respect, which is due for release in October, and National Geographic has a series pending called Genius: Aretha starring Cynthia Erivo.

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2 Responses to “TVNZ 1 Grounds Manifest to Respect Aretha”

  1. Gee – I’d take a stab that Manifest’s ratings are soooo bad it won’t return the following week. Consigned to TVNZ OnDemand only?

  2. I initially suspected that, too, Mike but TVNZ has confirmed Manifest will be back the following week.

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