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'Who Is Harry Nilsson' Director John Scheinfeld To Helm Elvis Presley Biopic 'Fame & Fortune'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 6, 2011 at 7:38AM

Even though it has been decades since Elvis Presley first made us feel all shook up, the rock 'n roll icon is still a looming and influential figure whose legend, along with the gritty details of his off-stage life, has become as well known as the timeless music he created. And while there have been a couple notable TV takes on his life -- 1979 film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell and a 2005 movie with Jonathan Rhys Meyers -- there has has never been a big screen account of Presley's story. But all that is about change.
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Even though it has been decades since Elvis Presley first made us feel all shook up, the rock 'n roll icon is still a looming and influential figure whose legend, along with the gritty details of his off-stage life, has become as well known as the timeless music he created. And while there have been a couple notable TV takes on his life -- 1979 film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell and a 2005 movie with Jonathan Rhys Meyers -- there has has never been a big screen account of Presley's story. But all that is about change.

Movement is foraging ahead with "Fame & Fortune," a biopic being primed for release in 2012 which will mark the 35th anniversary of Presley's death, and they've picked the right man for the job. THR reports that John Scheinfeld will be in the director's chair for the movie. Who? Scheinfeld is a longtime music documentarian who was behind last year's solid "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)" as well as "The U.S. vs. John Lennon." Throughout his career he's tackled docs on a wide ranging selection of recording artists, including Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and more, so this is very comfortable territory for the helmer. Whether Elvis' fans or estate will be as comfortable remains to be seen.

The biopic will be based on the book "Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business" written by Presley's former bodyguard Sonny West with biographer Marshall Terrill. The book is an uncompromising look at Presley's life from someone who was a part of it for nearly decades (West was fired a year before Elvis' death). Covering his career, relationships and meetings with various folks like The Beatles and Richard Nixon, the film will likely stick in the craw of the Presley estate who we presume won't be associating themselves with the movie or providing any rights to his major songs. But with so much to draw from the film it's still an interesting proposition. Here's the Amazon synopsis:

Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business is one of the most authentic portraits ever written about one of the greatest American entertainers. It is a balanced, respectful, and insightful look at Elvis's last two decades written by Sonny West, a true Presley insider and charter member of the infamous Memphis Mafia.

West, who worked and played with Presley from 1960 until the year before Elvis's death in 1977, was there for it all. Many books about Presley are written by third parties who never even met the man. Not this book. West was like a brother to Elvis, and has great insight into one of the most beloved, yet complex, figures of the 20th century. Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business is a roller-coaster ride that follows Presley's personal and professional ups and downs, his mercurial temper, his generous spirit, and his tragic decline. Sonny West had a front-row seat for it all, and now so will anyone who reads this book. Included are stories and photographs that have never been published before! A special section on former Memphis Mafia members called "Where Are They Now?" brings fans up-to-date on the lives of Elvis' closest confidants. West also answers some tough questions from fans in a special appendix. Presented in an entirely different tone from West's first book, Elvis: What Happened?, this is a loving, fun, and poignant book that is sure to enthrall Elvis Presley fans around the globe.

Now the major question remains: who to play the lead role? We guess we'll find out soon as lensing should start by the end of the year. That will be one big, sequined jumpsuit to fill. We're guessing the actor to fill it will likely be a largely unknown face, but maybe they can find Presley himself to do a cameo (because he's still alive and hangin' with Tupac right?).

This article is related to: Documentarian, John Scheinfeld


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