|late April, 2005
Currently in the news: Songy/BMG UK's release of Elvis Presley singles
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- Blowing Smoke? Forget Hurricane Elvis. The real fiscal calamity is $23 million in unpaid property taxes
By Janel Davis
(Memphis Flyer, April 29, 2005)
Mayor Willie Herenton began his fiscal year 2006 budget presentation to the City Council last week with a speech outlining the city's budget deficit, a proposed 54 cent property tax increase to combat it, and plans for restoring city services to an acceptable level. The mayor mentioned a number of factors contributing to the revenue shortfall, including a reduction in state-shared revenues, increased security measures following the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the 2003 windstorm commonly referred to as Hurricane Elvis.
In fact, the July 22nd windstorm was the second factor mentioned by the mayor on his list of contributing factors to the city's monetary woes. Hurricane Elvis did leave widespread destruction in its wake; even the Flyer offices were closed for a week following the storm, due to a power outage. But since then, the storm has taken the rap for everything from lower economic production to a decline in the number of city tourists. During last year's round of budget meetings, for example, administrators and division directors bemoaned the storm and the resulting decreased revenues. Lower property-tax revenues, increased repair costs, and equipment and supply purchases were all partially attributed to the storm. ...
- Sightings spark rush to save "extinct" woodpecker: Ivory-bills rediscovered after 60 years in Arkansas woods; federal government draws up conservation plan
(NSMBC News, April 28, 2005)
The ivory-billed woodpecker, long feared extinct, has been rediscovered in a remote part of Arkansas some 60 years after the last confirmed U.S. sighting, bird experts said Thursday. In response, the federal government immediately announced a plan to save the bird.he said. ... Frank Gill, senior ornithologist at the Audubon Society, said the discovery "is kind of like finding Elvis." ...
- 'Queen' who married the King set for Capital wedding date
By GARETH EDWARDS
(Detroit News / Gannett News Service, April 26, 2005)
THE "wedding queen of Nevada", who has married celebrities from Elvis Presley to Britney Spears, is to take part in her first Scottish wedding. The Rev Charlotte Richards is coming to the Capital to participate at the wedding of old friend Edinburgh actor Doug Healy. One of the world's busiest vicars, Mrs Richards oversees more than 400 weddings every week at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. ...
- Miniseries tries to dig into real Elvis
By Mike Hughes
(Detroit News / Gannett News Service, April 26, 2005)
As a new Elvis Presley miniseries arrives, two questions linger. Who was Presley, really? Was he as great as some people say? Who was Colonel Tom Parker? Was he as awful as many people say? Both questions ripple through "Elvis," on CBS at 9-11 p.m. May 8 and 8-10 p.m. May 11. Clearly, the film loves Presley. It worked with his estate; it uses his singing voice. CBS also airs the documentary, "Elvis by the Presleys," at 8 to 10 p.m. May 13.
The film follows Presley from a penniless teen to his comeback concerts. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays him as someone with dreams and body at full-throttle. "He was in constant motion," Rhys-Meyers says. "He was fidgety; he never stopped moving." Parker, Presley's manager, is another matter. "He was an enigma," says Randy Quaid, who plays him. He shaped rock history, making all the big decisions. "Without Colonel Parker, Elvis would have never been Elvis," Rhys-Meyers said. "He created the first real rock star." Still, people didn't know him. "I sort of knew he came from a carnival background," Quaid says. "I thought he was from the South." He grew up in the Netherlands and left as a young man. In the United States, he worked with carnivals and country stars -- Gene Austin, Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow. Then he met Presley and changed everything. His accent mixed the South and the Dutch. For Quaid, who is from Houston, half of that was a challenge. Rhys-Meyers had a bigger stretch. He speaks with a rich Irish accent, far from Elvis turf.
- Why using a dead celebrity sells
By Jonathan Guthrie
(Financial Times, April 26, 2005)
Elvis Presley is famous for many things: for his electrifying showmanship, for shooting television sets as a low-effort alternative to switching them off, for dying on the toilet. The great rock n' roller is less well known for a love of wholemeal bread. So I was intrigued, while making toast last Thursday, to find that the singer apparently endorsed the Kingsmill loaf I was carbonising. There was a silhouette of a man with a quiff and pouty lips on the packet above the legend "By appointment to The King". The words "That's one heck of a wholemeal, Mama!" appeared beside a nutritional diagram from which triple-decker burgers and barbiturates were oddly absent. The rest of this article is for FT.com subscribers only
- Elton John's arena show has fans singing and screaming
By MIRIAM DI NUNZIO
(Chicago Sun-Times, April 25, 2005)
You'd think a megastar like Elton John, who's been entertaining us for 35 years, has pretty much nothing left to prove. That wasn't the case Saturday night at the Allstate Arena where Sir Elton's Peachtree Road Tour put down stakes for a sold-out show. This wasn't a man resigned to phone-in his oldies, drop in a smattering of new material and call it a night. No, on this night, John had a hunger in his spectacled eyes. Without a doubt, he continues to be one of the best concert acts around, and nearly 20,000 people on their feet for most of the two-and-a-half hour show can't be wrong.
John kicked things off with the upbeat "The Weight of the World," a perfect way to set the tone for the evening ahead. He segued with ease into "Porch Swing in Tupelo," his tribute to Elvis, explaining that his longtime co-songwriter Bernie Taupin actually composed the tune while sitting on the front porch swing of Presley's boyhood home. ...
- Rockwell Mixed Icons For Guide
(Sci Fi Wire, April 25, 2005)
Sam Rockwell, who plays the President of the Galaxy - also known as the cocky, motor-mouthed and two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox - in the upcoming big-screen version of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, told SCI FI Wire that in order to play the part he channeled the attitudes and/or vocal patterns of a couple of dead rockers, a pair of presidents and even a fellow actor. "There's a little Freddie Mercury and definitely some Elvis Presley," Rockwell said in an interview. "I tried to go real heavy on the Bill Clinton for a while, and then it just became too much of an imitation. So we kind of went somewhere between Elvis and Bill Clinton with the voice." ...
- Lotsa Elvis
(antiMusic News, April 25, 2005)
The double CD Elvis By the Presleys contains 32 tracks including number one hits "In The Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds," and Heartbreak Hotel," legendary gems like "Trouble" and "Always On My Mind," and the new classic "A Little Less Conversation" which put Elvis back on the charts more than 25 years after his death. The rarities disc includes previously unreleased private recordings and Elvis at work in the studio recording "Jailhouse Rock" and "Too Much Monkey Business."
"The new CD set offers a look at the "King of Rock 'n Roll"(TM) as experienced through the eyes and ears of the two people who knew him best, his wife and daughter," says Joe DiMuro, Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group. "As the longtime musical home of Elvis Presley, Sony BMG is thrilled to bring fans a collection of songs that left an indelible memory on Elvis's immediate family and we're proud to continue to expose this tremendous, legendary artist to new generations of fans."
The companion television special "Elvis by the Presleys" will be broadcast May 13 and "ELVIS," the four-hour mini-series, will be broadcast May 8 and May 11 on the CBS TV. ...
- Get into spirit of collecting
By KEVIN DeMARRAIS
(North Jersey Media Group, April 24, 2005)
The white smoke had barely drifted into the Vatican sky when the souvenir sellers were hawking papal wares over the Internet. Less than three hours after the new pope was named, cafepress.com was selling a Cardinal Ratzinger coffee mug for $12.99 plus shipping. A day later other marketers were pushing more memorabilia, trinkets, souvenirs and other goods honoring Pope Benedict XVI - ranging from bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets to baby bibs and beer mugs - even as Pope John Paul II items continued to be sold. ... There's obviously a market for this type of merchandise, although as someone who has never been a big collector of memorabilia, I'm not sure why. ... These types of coins and medals, including colorized Elvis Presley quarters and Operation Iraqi Freedom Kennedy half dollars, are issued frequently by private companies. The marketing for these seemingly official products often caused confusion, which is why the Treasury Department proposed new rules in January aimed at eliminating misleading and deceptive advertising. ...
- Elvis Presley tunes join hit parade on Broadway
By MICHAEL KUCHWARA
(Buffalo News, April 24, 2005)
There may be life in the jukebox musical after all. The much-maligned genre that produced the highs of "Mamma Mia!" and the lows of "Good Vibrations" has strengthened the case for pop-song musical theater with a surprising "All Shook Up." This genial, thoroughly ingratiating show, now playing at Broadway's Palace Theatre, features songs made famous by that icon of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley. And it also celebrates Presley himself, using his persona as the model for the musical's lead character, a guitar-strumming, motorcycle-driving, hip-swiveling roustabout named Chad.
What makes "All Shook Up" work so well is the show's cheerful, tongue-in-cheek sense of self. Book writer Joe DiPietro, one of the creators of the long-running off-Broadway revue "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," has concocted a goofy, often funny and sweet-tempered story that is an affectionate send-up not only of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," but also all those cheesy movies Presley made during his mediocre film career. Remember such cinematic clinkers as "Harum Scarum," "Clambake" and "Speedway"? They make "All Shook Up" seem like "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Well, not really. But DiPietro has had the smarts not to take things too seriously, while director Christopher Ashley has assembled a crackerjack cast headed by hunky newcomer Cheyenne Jackson to deliver the goods.
Most of Presley's big hits are here, from "Love Me Tender" to "Jailhouse Rock" to "Heartbreak Hotel" to "Can't Help Falling in Love" to bits and pieces of "Teddy Bear" and "Hound Dog," and, of course, the title song. DiPietro has shoehorned some two dozen Presley numbers into the musical without letting the seams show in his admittedly slender, countrified fairy tale. ...
- THE FILMGOER
By Mick LaSalle
(San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2005)
This has happened a number of times over the past 10 or 15 years. I'll see a young actor who shows particular talent, and I'll wonder, "Who is that? Where have they been hiding this guy?" And then I'll check and find out the young actor is, in fact, a hip-hop star who has sold millions of records to everyone but me and who is world- famous. This has happened often enough to make me wonder. Is this coincidence? Is there something about being a rapper that serves as ideal training for screen acting?
In one way, it should come as no shock to find that performers in one arena are good in another. Part of being a performer is just the ability to be onstage, to be watched, to be at home in one's body. Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin, for example, weren't great actors, but they looked comfortable onscreen playing versions of themselves. The same could be said for Britney Spears in "Crossroads" (2002). But the ability that rappers such as Ice Cube and Mos Def demonstrate onscreen goes beyond that. ...
- Kings of the mall: Wannabe Elvises of all ages take the stage to show off their impersonation skills
By ANN ZANIEWSKI
(Daily Oakland Press, April 24, 2005)
The King is still alive in an 11-year-old boy, a forklift driver and a restaurant dishwasher. "The sideburns are real," said Elvis Presley look-a-like Jerry Lee Lewis of Temperance, smiling and tugging on his jet-black facial hair. Lewis didn't say whether he was named after the other early rock star. Elvis impersonators in flashy gold jackets or bell bottom jumpsuits celebrated the late rock and roll star Saturday at Oakland Mall. Prizes for the biggest Elvis fan, the person who most resembled him and the best performance were up for grabs.
About 10 Elvis doubles gathered around a stage in the mall's center court. A few dozen onlookers watched a professional Elvis impersonator belt out "All Shook Up!" and other hits. "It's more of like a garbage bag, mostly," said Michael Shepich of Roseville, referring to his wrinkly and shiny black jumpsuit. Its gold trim matched the thick rims around his sunglasses. "It retains heat, I can tell you that." Shepich, a 38-year-old who washes dishes at a restaurant, has been playing the King for 10 years. "It's just entertaining people of the audience," he said. "I like it. I'm happy." Jacquelyn Preston of Flint first heard the singer's voice coming from her grandma's record player. She sat near the stage with an Elvis umbrella tucked into a blue tote with the singer's name in rhinestones. "I've listened to him since I was a little girl," the 35-year-old said, her brown hair sticking out a rubber replica of Elvis' coiffure.
The event was a promotion for "Elvis," a miniseries that will be broadcast on CBS in May. It was co-sponsored by radio station WOMC. Organizers were hoping to set a record for the most Elvis look-a-likes in one place. It's a record that doesn't exist, said Judy Paluso, director of creative services for WJBK Detroit. "Even if we have five, we could win," she said. The list of people signed up to sing grew to 12 by mid-morning. ...