Monday, August 22, 2011


Anne Hathaway was seen wearing an Elvis t-shirt recently. And no, EPE didn't pay her to do it. LOL. (just an inside joke about a certain poster on an Elvis message board about his claim that EPE pays younger people to wear Elvis-t-shirts for PR reasons, which they replied is not true)

‘The Princess Diaries’ actress posed for the cameras outside the studios in an exquisiteBalmain blazer and looked outstanding.
anne hathaway balmain blazer

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


AUGUST 16, 1977

On August 16, 1977 the world was shocked and literally stood still to mourn the loss of the greatest American recording artist of all time, Elvis Aron Presley. News media took over regular scheduled programming covering the sudden death of the late 42 year old rock star non stop. Thousands of fans mourned outside of the gates of Graceland to pay their respects. Others raided their local music stores to get a hold of anything and everything Elvis. Below are some videos taken from the news coverage of Elvis' death in 1977. A look back on that dreadful day in pop culture, As John Lennon once said, "before Elvis, there was nothing". Better words couldn't be said.

34 years later, we still miss you, Elvis. As your devoted fans, it is our duty to make sure your flame never burns out and your legacy is introduced to future generations and that you live on forever!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


It seems that every year around this time a big story breaks surrounding the expansion plans for Graceland.

Elvis Lives Here 

Graceland is constantly reinventing itself, but it may be “time to write a big check.”

Elvis Week is an island of nice in a sea of snark.
It will be around 100 degrees this week, but thousands of people from around the world will come to Memphis anyway, as they have every year since 1982, when Graceland opened as a tourist attraction.
No one will be talking about schools, Congress, the debt limit, unemployment, the stock market, or poverty. The mood is hugs, not hate. An Elvis Internet comment board runs to sweet sentiments (Zelda: "Before and after his time on this earth there has been no other like him") and warm seconds (Branka: "Zelda, I couldn't have not said it better, your words are PERFECT! thank you").
The signature event, the Candlelight Vigil on August 15th, requires everyone to simply stand still and be quiet for hours as they wait their turn to walk up the driveway to the gravesite and back. They will bond in memory of the singer who died in 1977 but whose music legacy lives on through Elvis fan clubs, Elvis license plates, Elvis tribute songs, and multimedia events like "Elvis Presley Live: The King in Concert" on August 13th at the Orpheum.
Every year is the anniversary of something Elvis. This is the 55th anniversary of "the year Elvis catapulted to superstardom": 1956. Next year will be a double dip: the 30th anniversary of Graceland's opening and the 35th anniversary of Elvis' death. Oh, and his 77th birthday too.
"The number of visitors (550,000, with a spike in anniversary years) has flattened out the last couple of years," said Kevin Kane, head of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. "They have to continue to reinvent themselves, and they know that."
Elvis and Graceland straddle the worlds of old media and new media. His fan clubs were the forerunners of Facebook friends. Elvis movies are popular at revivals, and singers who weren't born when he died sing his songs on American Idol and America's Got Talent. Elvis Presley Enterprises, fiercely protective of his image, has gone with the flow by co-opting the annual impersonators or "tribute artist" contest that used to be an independent event at a Holiday Inn near the airport. And if you want to write your name and message on the wall in front of Graceland, have at it. Thousands do it every year.
"They do an unbelievable job of reinventing the sizzle over and over again," Kane said. "Elvis Presley Enterprises has probably gotten more free press than any tourism entity in the country. I don't know how many more tricks are left in the bag before you have to write a really big check and focus on the physical plant."
Graceland and Whitehaven are an awkward fit. Most Elvis fans are white. Most Whitehaven residents are black. Elvis Presley Boulevard is a nondescript commercial street. Other than Graceland, its claim to fame is the top-grossing Krispy Kreme in the United States. It is a 15-minute drive to the downtown tourist attractions, the Mississippi River, and most of the bigger hotels. There are only five hotels in Memphis with more than 300 rooms, and the closest one to Graceland is at the airport. The Heartbreak Hotel on Elvis Presley Boulevard, which is not in the big five, is, however, number one in occupancy year after year.
"Graceland is limited in what they can do after hours other than private parties," Kane said. "In that location it is hard, other than the hotel, for them to become that 18-hour-a-day revenue-producing machine."
Harold Collins is the Memphis city councilman whose district includes Graceland. He also lives "a six-iron away" from the mansion. We are sitting in the lobby of the Heartbreak Hotel. An Elvis movie is playing on the flatscreen television above us. In it, there are scads of perky young women in shorts in a rustic setting, and Elvis is possibly a camp counselor. The volume is so high that we have to put our heads together like conspirators to hear anything.
The Heartbreak Hotel, Collins says, may not be long for this world, at least not in this incarnation. Once a Wilson World, one of Kemmons Wilson's chain of budget lodgings, it will be relocated across Elvis Presley Boulevard on a lush site next to the mansion. The Elvis Presley Museum and artifacts as well as Elvis' jet, the Lisa Marie, are also slated to be moved across the street, making room for new souvenir stores, a visitor's center, restaurants, and R.V. parking sites. The goal is to create a Graceland and Whitehaven after-dark experience that lasts beyond Elvis Week.
Collins describes a dramatically revamped Elvis Presley Boulevard from Winchester to Raines Road, roughly 1.2 miles in all. "At dusk, I would like to see cars go away," he said. "Maybe have some kind of train or trolley and pedestrians and bicycles."
He sees the number of visitors doubling to roughly 1.2 million. He is confident that the transformation of the Graceland neighborhood will happen. It was first announced in 2006 as a $250 million investment that would put Graceland on par with Disney World. In May, Apollo Global Management acquired CKX, Inc., the company that owns the rights to all things Elvis.
"What slowed it down was the economy," said Collins, echoing Kane. "Elvis Presley Enterprises has not given us any indication that they have changed their mind." Representatives of Elvis Presley Enterprises declined to comment about the proposed redevelopment.
Collins and I left the hotel and drove across the street to take a picture next to the wall in front of Graceland.
"Graceland is a huge asset for Whitehaven," said Collins, who was elected in 2008. "We needed to embrace it and make it part of the community, like being part of the Whitehaven Christmas Parade and tying that in with the lighting of the Graceland lights. I love Elvis Week, although I tend to have something else to do that weekend because of the traffic on my street. I see so many people from different parts of the world in our neighborhood."
As if on cue, a couple from Washington, D.C., Smith and Janice Rudolph, walk up to take a picture in front of the sign near Graceland's gates.
"I rocked to his music," says Smith Rudolph, "and I am still rocking even now."
Story has been edited to reflect Elvis' correct age. 
Read On: "Everybody Elvis" by Susan Ellis


His Latest Flame

Elvis Presley’s empire now in hands of New York equity firm

By Bill Dries

 Updated 9:50AM
Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter
There is Elvis Presley Boulevard and there is Graceland.
The boulevard takes in much more than the considerable financial and cultural presence left by the entertainer who lived and died in rock ‘n’ roll’s house on the hill in Whitehaven.
As Graceland reaches its summer peak on Aug. 16, the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, the state of Elvis Presley Enterprises as well as Whitehaven are largely dependent on the national economic recession that has come back to life.
The city of Memphis is about to spend $1.8 million for land acquisition and street design along a three-mile stretch of Elvis Presley Boulevard, between Brooks Road and Shelby Drive.

The plans that emerge would be the first concrete, visible signs in a seven-year bid to broaden the footprint of Graceland in Whitehaven and act on Whitehaven’s commercial and retail potential. They are two separate and distinct though not opposing goals.
“We have always maintained that the street has nothing to do with Elvis Presley Enterprises,” said Memphis City Council member Harold Collins, whose district includes Whitehaven. “We know that the street needed to be done anyway. We know based on conversations with the (Greater Memphis) Chamber that if we expend $44 million to $45 million on redoing the street, we believe that twice that much could be invested in private dollars where people want to come in and serve the community.”
Collins and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration hope the state of Tennessee will make good on a commitment of $44.5 million in state funding to alter the streetscape over two to three fiscal years starting in fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012.
The commitment was made when Phil Bredesen was governor and when Elvis Presley Enterprises was under different ownership that had ambitious plans for multiple hotels, a shifted Graceland Plaza on the same side of the street as the mansion, restaurants, an expanded tourism center and a convention-performing arts center.
Whitehaven has a split retail identity in which the two parts of the identity are not always as easily separated when the subject is economic potential and money to realize that potential.
There is the Graceland bubble that Elvis Presley Enterprises wants to expand and move around.

“We know based on conversations with the chamber that if we expend $44 million to $45 million on redoing the street (Elvis Presley Boulevard), we believe that twice that much could be invested in private dollars where people want to come in and serve the community.”

– Harold Collins
Memphis City Council Member
Memphians work in the bubble. But not a lot of Memphis dollars are spent there.
The area outside the bubble is Memphis money and retail potential too often being spent elsewhere, according to Collins and others. There are hints of that potential in Southland Mall’s 90 percent occupancy rate. The mall’s trade is overwhelmingly from Memphians.
“The Whitehaven community is per capita the highest earned income community (among nine economic development zones in the city), per capita the highest home ownership, per capita the highest educated, per capita the highest disposable income,” Collins said, referring to a University of Memphis study.
“What we have to do is provide a pathway for these businesses to come in and put their shops and their restaurants down, knowing that they already have a community that can sustain it.”
Graceland is looking for a similar path with a different public that doesn’t live in Whitehaven and probably doesn’t live in the Memphis area.
“As the life, times and artistic works of Elvis Presley grow more distant in our past, their popularity may decline,” reads the 2010 annual report ofCKx Inc., issued in March. The quote comes from a section of the report with the heading “risks related to our business.”
“If the public were to lose interest in Elvis Presley or form a negative impression of him, our business operation results and financial condition would be materially and adversely affected.”
The company went on to say that it believed Elvis fans will visit Graceland for quite some time to come and buy the related Elvis merchandise.
But since CKx Inc. bought 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005, Graceland has been operating under a philosophy that the mansion should remain frozen in time, but the area around it should be more of a destination with more events and even other performers.
Tour and exhibit revenue for Graceland in the 2010 calendar year was $14.5 million, down $200,000 from 2009. Attendance dropped 4.4 percent from 542,728 in 2009 to 518,940. CKx attributed the drops to lower tourist traffic in Memphis, partly because of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Elvis retail revenue was $14.3 million for the year, up $900,000 over 2009 because of higher sales of merchandise at Graceland and at the “Elvis the Concert” series in Europe – Elvis in his 1970s prime on a large screen synced with a live touring band on a continent that Elvis never played during his lifetime.
The overhead of Graceland operations was up by $1.2 million, most of it from the professional and legal fees of the new master plan that the CKx report describes as “postponed.”
CKx founder Robert Sillerman was behind not only the $250 million overhaul of Graceland and its acquisition of new property west of the plaza and north of the mansion. He launched an expansion of the Elvis brand that included remixes of Elvis tunes, a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas and a licensing agreement for Elvis-themed restaurants and clubs possible around the world.
Sillerman also wanted to break Graceland out of a five-year cycle of peaks and valleys connected to anniversaries of Presley’s death that ended in zeros or fives.
He wanted new reasons for tourists who may not have been born when Elvis died to form a bond with an Elvis brand able to be more widely interpreted.
The audio tour, available in half a dozen languages other than English, explains the times the entertainer lived in as well as his music. It also acknowledges that he had an addiction to prescription drugs.
Collins and other Whitehaven boosters had some concerns about what an expansion of Graceland would mean in an area where residential areas are less than a block off the boulevard on both sides of the street.
But ultimately, they saw it as a means to the goal of reviving what amounts to Whitehaven’s Main Street for those who live in the neighborhoods.
Then the recession hit, Sillerman encountered problems getting financing for Graceland as well as other parts of his vision for EPE, Sillerman attempted to buy CKx, Sillerman left and CKx was bought this past July by New York-based Apollo Global Management LLC.
That makes four owners Elvis Presley Enterprises has had in seven years – a lot of instability for a business that since the late 1970s has limited itself to a very carefully drawn identity and paid dearly for its efforts beyond that including a Beale Street restaurant and guided tours of the Hunt-Phelan House on another part of Beale Street.
Elvis fans from around the world visit Graceland during Elvis Week. (Photo: Lance Murphey)
Sillerman broadened the identity, but the broader plans for what to do with that changed identity have stalled.
Everyone involved in direct control of the Elvis empire declined comment when contacted by The Memphis News.
The CKx annual report, released two months before Apollo announced the acquisition, speaks in guarded terms about the expansion.
“The company has determined that there is a strong likelihood that the original preliminary design plans may require significant modifications or abandonment for a redesign due to current economic conditions and a lack of certainty as to exact scope, cost, financing plan and timing of this project,” the report reads.
The CKx annual report also emphasizes the uncertainty by pointing to the termination of the licensing agreement in 2008 involving FXRE – the real estate arm of CKx – for the development of one or more hotels on the Graceland footprint and broader plans for Elvis-themed hotels.
When FXRE didn’t make a $10 million guaranteed minimum royalty payment in 2008 to CKx, Elvis Presley Enterprises terminated the agreement.
“The company remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties,” the 2010 annual report concludes before saying at another point several pages later, “We expect that the redevelopment of Graceland, if and when pursued, would take several years and could require a substantial financial investment by the company.”
Apollo is an “alternative asset manager” that specifically looks for assets it feels are undervalued and which have the potential to make a lot of money for investors – their investors – especially in a recessionary environment.
“We’re a value-oriented contrarian investor,” Apollo president Marc Spilker told a Barclays conference in London in May, two months after Apollo became a publicly traded company.
“We put a lot of money to work during recessionary periods. Half the money we’ve invested in our (20-year history) has been invested in recessions.”
Spilker touted the firm’s research of and “deep industry” knowledge, which extends to the entertainment industry – including buying Harrah’s and Caesar’s – two of the biggest casino names.
“We have an integrated platform, which means the Chinese wall is around the organization, not within the organization,” he said. “It’s the way the firm was organized in the beginning. It’s the way people behave.”
Executives with several local equity management companies who spoke on background told The Memphis News that Apollo obviously feels CKx is undervalued and has potential.
But they question what Apollo sees as the value. CKx is a company best known for the Idols international television franchise including the “American Idol” television show and the companion “So You Think You Can Dance” television program and franchise.
Important to those in the equity firm industry is the backing of Sillerman and The Promenade Trust – the Elvis Presley estate – of the sale of CKx to Apollo. It suggests Graceland and the Elvis brand will remain a key part of any future plans.
But one local adviser questions whether they are supporting Apollo because Apollo intends to carry out the 2005 expansion or because Apollo has a new plan.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Changes are coming to the Cirque Du Soleil show, Viva Elvis at the Aria resort in Las Vegas.

The bad news started sinking in when cast and crew members of "Viva Elvis" were told all things Elvis will be leaving the building.
The hoop skirt-wearing dancers from the bobby-socks era. Oversized set pieces of Elvis statues and the blue suede shoe.
"So expect to see those on eBay," cracked a Cirque du Soleil executive, hoping to relieve the tension.  Read more of the story....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It looks like all of America –– is rockin’ to Elvis: The Great Performances as it debuts at the top spot - #1 – on Billboard’s Top Music Video Sales chart this week. Released August 2, 2011, Elvis: The Great Performances 2 DVD Set (Hip-O/SOFA Entertainment) captures the talent, mesmerizing stage presence and charisma of the man known throughout the world as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. 
This collection follows Elvis’ career from his first televised appearance that shocked America and had everyone talking about his hip-shaking performance, to a sold-out concert a few weeks before his death on August 16, 1977. With over 2-hours of re-mastered footage, new packaging, and never-before-seen interviews, Elvis: The Great Performances 2 DVD set offers a glimpse into the world of one of America’s most beloved icons.

A true must-have for Elvis buffs, rock aficionados and music-lovers alike, the collection covers a span of more than 20 years and unleashes “Elvis-mania” to fans who are able to re-live the excitement and to those experiencing it for the first time. Also included are previously-unreleased interviews, conducted by producer-director Andrew Solt in the early and mid-‘90s, with rock icons Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Sun Records head Sam Phillips, drummer D.J. Fontana, guitarist Scotty Moore, Jordanaires member and backing singer Gordon Stoker, and television host Milton Berle, on whose show Elvis appeared twice in 1956. Footage mined from TV shows and specials, films and home movies provide a revealing look into Elvis’ private life as well as the realities of his unprecedented fame.

Elvis: The Great Performances allows fans to revisit the life and music of one of the most important pop-culture figures in entertainment history. Like never-before, experience Elvis’ mystique and legacy with this ultimate collection of performances by the King. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Earlier this year, I began to make my own personalized album covers to futuristic proposed albums as a hobby. Since this is my blog, I thought I would share with the world my personal album cover collection that I have made so far. Hope you enjoy them! P.S. Sony me. LOL

Alternate album cover #1 for the Elvis In Concert 1977 album released by RCA
                                                        Alternate album cover #2
                                Alternate album cover #3, and my personal favorite of all!
                            Album cover for a new concert album in Hampton Roads, VA
                     Alternate album cover for a new release of the NY Garden concerts in 1972
             Alternate album cover for a new release of Elvis' final concert in Indianapolis, IN 1977
Artwork for a proposed 50's rock & roll album
Album cover for a potential "Duets" album
Album cover for a new album of the Elvis On Tour movie 
Album cover for a new 3-CD set of 70's studio master recordings