You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Genius’ Producers Complete Decades-Long Journey With Nat Geo Einstein Series

Genius” premiered on Nat Geo Tuesday night, and for EUE/Sokolow Entertainment, one of the production companies behind the 10-part anthology series on Albert Einstein, it marks the culmination of a dream that has been in the works for years.

“As early as 10 years ago, my brother Chris and I had been working on an Einstein feature project, but we couldn’t find the right IP,” company creative director Jeff Cooney told Variety. “Then Walter Isaacson’s book [‘Einstein: His Life and Universe’] changed everything. So a good friend of ours who worked at OddLot Entertainment called and said Gigi [Pritzker] was really interested and would we want to partner on a feature. So, really a fine script came of it but a lot of directors found the story a bit daunting, like ‘I can’t tell this story in two and a half hours.'”

Thus, the Cooneys and their friend Sam Sokolow (pictured above), the president of EUE/Sokolow, worked with OddLot to turn the project into a TV series. “In two and a half hours, there’s certain parts of Einstein’s life you have to focus on, like the story of the atom bomb,” Sokolow said. “That pulls focus to the later years…but with television, when you have a 10-hour format, you can delve deeply into the personal dramas and relationships, like his first wife. You can then really tell the story of his sweeping life set against two world wars, the rise of Nazism, and J. Edgar Hoover’s Red scare.”

The project marked EUE/Sokolow’s biggest success since opening their doors in 2010, something Cooney attributed to a mix of good luck and good work. “Finding that pathway and re-imagining it, we never thought there would be a brand like ‘Genius.’ That was one of the great treasures that came out of this…But good luck is the residue of hard work as the saying goes and we had our nose to the grindstone for years. It’s so exciting to have this kind of payoff.”

But the work is not done with “Genius,” even though it has already been renewed for a second season. The company is currently pitching the project “Co-Op”, a television show created by and starring Zachary Levi, as well as an untitled digital series produced with Jaleel White and Pitbull’s Honey, I’m Home Inc. Sokolow says that the company is meant to operate outside the traditional television studio system and focus instead on the artists.

“I think a big difference that EUE/Sokolow brings is that we’re a true independent operating at the high-end of the television industry, an industry that has predominantly been closed to independent money and independent companies,” he said. “We envisioned having a company that can create premium shows and really support the artists’ vision and then set them up on the open market.”

And Sokolow knows a thing about being an independent. After directing commercials for a New York ad agency, he helped raise almost $100,000 to fund the independent feature “The Definite Maybe.” The film shot in New York and featured actors such as Al Franken, Bob Balaban, and Roy Scheider.

“We felt that my being a New Yorker, shooting in New York, and having a terrific cast of New York talent, we were going to get an invitation to the Tribeca Film Festival,” he said. “And we didn’t get into the festival with that movie…20 years later to the month of making ‘The Definite Maybe,’ we had a big red carpet premiere for ‘Genius’ down at the Tribeca Film Festival. All it took was coming out to LA and working for 15, 16 years. But those dreams do come true and they come true by waking up everyday and doing good, high-quality work.”

More TV

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content