“ELVIS: VIVA LAS VEGAS”: TWO HOUR SPECIAL DOCUMENTS PRESLEY’S LAS VEGAS YEARS,
AIRS TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 ON ABC
Features Appearances by Paul McCartney, 50 Cent, Beyonce and Celine Dion
Thirty years after Elvis Presley’s death, an ABC two-hour TV event in High Definition will examine how the King of Rock-and-Roll reinvented Las Vegas – and how it reinvented him. Hosted by ABC News’ “20/20” anchor Elizabeth Vargas, the special, produced in cooperation with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., will incorporate rarely seen footage of Elvis performing in Las Vegas, revealing interviews with those closest to him, and special performances from some of today’s top recording stars singing Elvis’ Vegas classics. “Elvis: Viva Las Vegas” will air on Tuesday, September 18 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
The program celebrates his triumph in Las Vegas and artistic legacy that continues through contemporary artists today. The special will feature unique duets from Toby Keith and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry performing “Mystery Train” and Chris Isaak with the hot new artist Brandi Carlile performing “Love Me Tender” (filmed on the former site of the Aladdin Hotel, where Elvis and Priscilla were married). Some musical artists talk about the influence Elvis had on them and others perform covers of their favorite Elvis songs. Artists include: 50 Cent, Beyonce, Daughtry, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, “The Rock,” Patti Scialfa and Oscar winners Three-6-Mafia.
The two-hour special will include exclusive interviews with Elvis’ former wife Priscilla Presley and will chronicle different aspects of Elvis’s life during the Las Vegas concert years. Elvis was able to reinvent himself in Las Vegas and make a comeback at a time when critics didn’t think he had a chance. Viewers will see how his combination of soul and showbiz, electric rock and sex appeal — became the template for performances today. His astonishing success started the practice of the long-running Vegas “residency” that Celine Dion, Prince, Cirque du Soleil and Elton John partake in today.
Elvis’ Las Vegas years proved to be a time of a remarkable revival and inner conflict. When he first arrived, Elvis basked in audience adoration powerful enough to transform the city. “Las Vegas needed a shot in the arm, and Elvis was the potion,” friend, co-star and fellow Las Vegas performer Nancy Sinatra tells ABC. “He got the young people in. And the young people helped to build a new Vegas.” But as time went on and Elvis performed the same songs show after show, night after night, Priscilla Presley tells Vargas that he was “like a stallion caged in a tiny stall.”
Frustrated by a lack of new creative challenges, Elvis reportedly told one of his backup singers that he thought no one would ever remember him. “That’s incredible,” says three-time Oscar nominee, film director David Lynch. “Elvis swims in our minds, and in the emotions all through time.” And Matchbox 20 lead singer Rob Thomas adds; “Elvis set the world on fire…if you’re a rock and roll musician, the music you’re making you wouldn’t be making it if Elvis wasn’t there to open those doors, and not just open – kick them open.”
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Elvis, Vegas, sweat, an audience – this just rocks!
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