Press release from National Geographic, Feb. 3, 2017:
National Geographic today released the network’s first-ever stand-alone spot for this Sunday’s championship football game, premiering immediately following Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated halftime show. The 45-second spot, entitled “Bad Romance,” teases the upcoming scripted series GENIUS, from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard and starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein (“The Kings Speech,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Shine”), Emily Watson (“Theory of Everything,” “The Book Thief”) as Elsa Einstein and Johnny Flynn (“Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Song One,” “Lovesick”) as younger Einstein. The official trailer for the series was released last month (watch here) and Rolling Stone recently declared the series one of the “25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017.”
Premiering in the U.S. on Tuesday, April 25 (and around the world in 171 countries and 45 languages), GENIUS charts how Albert Einstein, an imaginative, rebellious patent clerk who struggled to land an academic post in his early years, went on to become the greatest scientific mind of the 20th century, all while juggling volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. Ron Howard makes his prime-time television drama directorial debut with the series premiere episode airing April 25.
The commercial featuring Rush as Einstein, shot in Prague earlier this week, was created for National Geographic by ad agency McCann New York. The ad opens with Einstein in his study, picking up a violin, tapping into his well-known passion for playing Bach and Mozart.
As the spot continues, Einstein starts playing the most beautiful, frenzied sonata, and halfway through the commercial, viewers will recognize the piece as Lady Gaga’s hit song “Bad Romance” – although a version not heard like this before. The song “Bad Romance” subtly teases Einstein’s little-known lothario ways. In fact, Einstein once said, “Lasting harmony with a woman [was] an undertaking in which I twice failed rather disgracefully.”
Einstein plays the song with tremendous passion and emotion, exactly the way we imagine he would – while at the same time reflecting a sense of his tumultuous love life. The violin sings out harmoniously; there are moving rapid flashes of handwritten scientific equations symbolizing his rebellious, no-holds-barred approach to science. Einstein then abruptly stops, and as he sticks out his tongue – Einstein’s signature gesture – and we reveal the series premiere date of Tuesday, April 25.
“We are excited to take this opportunity to promote our first-ever global scripted series, GENIUS, starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson during one of America’s most-watched television events,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks. “It’s a simple and engaging commercial that not only tapes into the zeitgeist of Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated halftime performance, but also perfectly represents the surprising side of Einstein the series captures. We hope it will cut through the noise, force viewers to take notice and give this broader audience a glimpse into the National Geographic brand of premium content.”
The spot was conceived by McCann New York and directed by acclaimed commercial director Ivan Zacharias.
“We wanted to create a beautiful commercial that was true to the character of Albert Einstein,” said Eric Silver, Chief Creative Officer, North America, McCann. “We knew Einstein frequently played violin as a brainstorming technique. The timing of our placement immediately after Lady Gaga’s halftime performance felt like serendipity, giving us the perfect platform to bring the adored physicist to life in a memorable way.”
The first season of GENIUS is based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed book “Einstein: His Life and Universe.” GENIUS is executive produced by Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Francie Calfo, and co-produced by Anna Culp; showrunner, executive producer and writer is Ken Biller; from OddLot Entertainment, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane are executive producers and Melissa Rucker is co-producer; Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney from EUE/Sokolow are also executive producers. Writer Noah Pink, who adapted the series for the screen, is co-executive producer. For National Geographic, Carolyn G. Bernstein is executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production.