For famed director Ron Howard,
"Genius," which debuted Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel, portrays the life of the esteemed, wild-haired scientist Albert Einstein, played by Australian actor Geoffrey Rush. The series is based in part on historically relevant developments in Einstein's life, chronicled in Walter Isaacson's 2007 book, "Einstein: His Life and Universe." In a recent interview with CNBC, Howard said the 10-episode series — which debuted in 171 countries and more than 40 languages — has the potential to develop into an ongoing anthology.
"We hope this isn't just a mini, but an anthology series that will last many years — to explore, with complexity, great thinkers," Howard said. This idea could pose a challenge given the critical mass of television offerings.
Yet Howard said a compelling narrative is still most essential to his work, and "Genius" certainly qualifies. For many, Einstein's cultural cachet and scientific genius is still a source of curiosity, and Isaacson's biographical tome gives the Nobel Prize winner a whole new significance — even in a technology-saturated age.
"Storytellers have always linked immediate ideas, scenes that seem relevant to their audience, with what audiences want to see and hear, then try to push that envelope," he told CNBC.
"The same kind of quest is underway to apply cutting-edge technology to the process of narrative storytelling. ... That's expanding so rapidly that it's challenging filmmakers in ways that are really exciting."