EXCLUSIVE: Weinstein Television has made an unprecedented partnership deal with the Elvis Presley estate to create an eight- to 10-part television biopic that will allow them all music rights and the rare opportunity to shoot in the singer’s Graceland home. Cameras also will have access The King’s automobiles, clothes and jets.
The series, which has the Dave Marsh book Elvis as a resource as well as archives that include Presley’s personal journals, will get going quickly. TWC is already short-listing A-list feature writer-directors to write the script. It is expected the package will be brought to networks within the next two weeks. TWC will do this in lockstep with the Presley Estate, as well as Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser. All of them will be executive producers. TWC’s head of scripted television Megan Spanjian will oversee it.
The aim is to do a thorough exploration into a remarkable life with the care that has gone into TWC feature biopics that include The Imitation Game, The King’s Speech, Women In Gold and so many others. The demand for this ought to be enormous, as Presley remains an icon of American culture, and his social media following exceeds 14 million fans. Glasser and Sarah Sobel did the deal for TWC along with Corey Salter, Marc Rosen, and Pamela Bebry on behalf of Authentic Brands Group.
“To this day, Elvis is one of the few that lives up to the word ‘icon’,” said Harvey Weinstein. “He is one of the most celebrated entertainers of all time whose influence surpasses the music he created. People’s fascination with his story goes beyond the stage and this biopic will pay homage to his brilliant legacy and give viewers an in-depth look at how he became ‘The King’.”
Said Glasser: “We are thrilled to announce this biopic and our partnership with the Presley Estate. It’s an incredible opportunity to be the first-ever scripted TV series to shoot at Graceland and have access to Elvis’ personal archives. Elvis redefined an entire generation’s relationship to music and pop culture. This show will be an authentic and riveting look at how that came about from start to finish.”
TWC came out of Toronto with significant Oscar season movie momentum for Lion — directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman — which bows Thanksgiving, and it has the Stephen Gaghan-directed Matthew McConaughey-starrer Gold opening Christmas Day and the John Lee Hancock-directed Michael Keaton-starrer The Founder set for an Oscar-qualifying bow and a January 20 release.
But the company continues to step up its output of event television, and Elvis Presley will stand alongside other percolating projects that include an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s Omerta, with Antoine Fuqua and Sylvester Stallone; an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Breathing Method with Blumhouse, Scott Teems and Scott Derrickson, and numerous others.
In the meantime, the Presely deal will go full-steam ahead with the estate’s blessing.
“We are excited to work with Harvey Weinstein and the team on this special project,’ said Salter, chairman and CEO of Authentic Brands, which owns Elvis Presley Enterprises, LLC. “Partnering with producers of this caliber enables us to provide viewers with a new and original experience that is as captivating as The King himself.”
Said Priscilla Presley: “I’m a big fan of Harvey Weinstein’s independent films. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him on this show and tell the story of how Elvis changed the culture of music and initiated a revolution that changed the world.”