Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."
"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If
you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."
a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."
Gilbert B. Rodman)
Elvis Presley Enterprises Sold!
....management of Graceland and EPE in corporate hands....
sale of majority interest in EPE's 'marketing operations' shocked many in the Elvis world.
EIN has prepared a comprehensive archives of news and
articles about the sale (and its aftermath) - the biggest news
story to hit the Elvis world since the opening of Graceland
to the public on 7 June 1982.
Sillerman (and his wife, Laura)
News stories (see also "Articles" near bottom of page)
7 May 2015
Council approves Graceland Campus Tourism Surcharge: Memphis City Council members approved on third and final reading a 5 percent Graceland tourism surcharge on all items bought on the 120-acre Graceland campus.
The revenue stream will go toward financing the three-phase Graceland expansion project including the construction of a $90 million, 450-room hotel north of the mansion.
Meanwhile, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden told council members the two jets once owned by Elvis Presley and available for tours for more than 30 years aren’t likely to move as Graceland closes on a deal to buy them.
“Chances are they will sit there for another 33 years,” he said in response to a question from the council.
“And everything else has been a lot of smoke and a period of time when we couldn’t come to terms,” he added of the contract negotiations with OKC Partners, the company that owned the planes and had a contract with Graceland to include the display as part of certain Graceland tour packages.
And the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. delayed a vote Tuesday on $241,571 in funding for a water detention basin on the campus of Memphis Catholic High School in Midtown. Several council members questioned the project’s priority ahead of projects to ease flooding in Frayser and Whitehaven, two areas the city engineer’s office and public works division are studying for future measures.
In council committee session Tuesday, council members recommended the city’s $1.5 million purchase of the Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building.
The committee action sets the stage for a vote by the full council in two weeks on the deal that Wharton’s administration is proposing. The voice vote to recommend came after much council debate and discussion. (News, Source: Memphis Daily News)
Graceland Campus - Proposed development
Friday 6 February 2015
Graceland prepares for Major Expansion: After two decades of assembling adjacent properties and making plans EPE is beginning to transform with the planned 450-room, resort-like hotel called the Guest House at Graceland.
"It’s an idea that’s been in the works for years," said Jack Soden, chief executive of EPE, "It is really coming together over the last year."
On both sides of Elvis Presley Boulevard surrounding Graceland, the company has taken a long view on assembling the ground for expansion as the plans indicated.
The 25-acre site for the new $90 to $95 million hotel includes nearly 11 acres where the Meadow Oaks Apartments were built in 1974 and demolished in 2011. EPE had gained control of the complex years in 1994, with a $5 million purchase. Now vacant land, with mature trees overlooking remnants of lawns and streets surrounded by a wrought iron fence, the county’s assessor values the property at $526,600.
Next door, the abandoned car lot originally sprang up in 1973, records show. EPE bought it in 2006 for $2.1 million. The county now places its value at about $800,000.
Across Elvis Presley Boulevard from the Graceland mansion, and behind an aging museum featuring Elvis’ automobiles, another former site of an apartment complex — Craft Manor — lies vacant and fenced.
Built in 1961 and under the wrecking ball by late 2008, a $6.5 million purchase in 2007 brought them into the Elvis Presley Enterprises fold. The county sets $788,000 as the 2014 value for the 16-acre site
Similar land purchases as late as 2010 have stitched together the final pieces of about 120 acres making up a Graceland campus which, if approved at the state level as it has been by City Council and County Commission, would be its own "tourism development zone." Phase 1 of the Graceland plans, a $1 million archives studio and 200-seat theater, is up and running. Phase 2 is the three-star hotel, designed to
handle conferences with 16,000-square-feet of meeting or ballroom space, as well as a 500-seat theater, swimming pool and two restaurants.
That development would transform the former Meadow Oaks, the empty car lot and other properties that EPE owns north of Graceland. The third and final phase of the new Graceland plan would be the $30 million to $35 million development of new attractions, retail, food and beverage outlets on the same side of Elvis Presley Boulevard as the Heartbreak Hotel.
The former Craft Manor apartments site provides room for that expansion, as does removing the current strip of buildings that serve 600,000 visitors a year. (News, Source;ComAppeal/ElvisInfoNet)
New EPE Elvis Presley Exhibition to open in Las Vegas: Authentic Brand Group, owners of EPE, first took their Elvis show on the road for the first time with the nine-month exhibition of Presley artifacts at London’s O2 arena. Now EPE are planning a second permanent home and exhibition in Las Vegas.
The plan will not be officially announced until later this month, but Joel Weinshanker, the managing partner of ABG, said that the new Presley outpost, featuring an exhibition space and live performances, will be at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino on the site of the former International Hotel, where Presley played a record 58 consecutive sold-out shows in 1969.
“We have everything from a 35-foot-high outdoor sign
promoting Elvis’s show there to a Stutz car he had delivered to him when he first performed in Las Vegas in 1956, and our planned live shows will be “Elvis-related" but not by Elvis impersonators.
Las Vegas offers an opportunity to show off more of the million Graceland artifacts that often remain in storage but the exhibit will not cannibalize audiences from Graceland but whet people’s appetites for a trip to Memphis. “Once you give someone a taste of this they’ll want more,” he said.
Weinshanker oversees Graceland and live events, while Authentic Brand Group manages licensing and intellectual property. (News, Source;SM/ElvisInfoNet)
Elvis Planes Still Not Sold: As we all know the OKC Partnership, which owns the Elvis planes Lisa Marie and Hound Dog 11, has been trying to sell them since last year. OKC previously tried to sell the planes through an aviation website and Ebay but without success. Now Julien’s Auctions confirms that the "silent bidding auction" that ended on to conclude on Feb. 2 produced no new buyer. Julien’s Auctions confirm that now “the planes are priced to sell.”
Julien Auctions note, “Whoever buys these planes is buying an instant museum or attraction. People will travel all over the world to see them wherever they are located.” Sadly EIN disagrees and believe Graceland is the only proper home for them (except perhaps the new Las Vegas exhibition - see above!) It seems that EPE is still waiting for a cheap deal.
Weinshanker said only half of Graceland guests visited the planes and as the only items Graceland does not own, improving the exhibit was difficult. Mr. Weinshanker said that the space would be part of a new exhibit area “that is completely indoors and climate controlled so when it’s 20 degrees or 90 degrees out you can have a comfortable experience.” Depending on the outcome of the auction, Mr. Weinshanker said, he is willing to negotiate new terms to keep the planes. “We are open to everything. If there is an opportunity to keep them then we would.” EIN notes that EPE earns $55 Million per year, there is surely enough to purchase the planes.
Lisa Marie Presley comments on upcoming auction of Elvis' planes: Lisa Marie has issued this short statement about the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II jets:
We have not owned the planes for years. We have leased it, It is the owners who are doing all of this to try and get more money. (News, Source: Presley Pride (Facebook)/ @LisaPresley) 5 Jan 2015
It's very disheartening and unsettling that you point your fingers at my daughter, Jack Soden, EPE as a whole, our partners and myself as the blame for the sale of the planes. Do you honestly think we want them sold? Have you never thought that the owners are the culprits? That perhaps THEY are greedy, unwilling to be fair, or are being TOTALLY unreasonable? Shame on you for using threats of not going to Graceland or that we're going to lose loyal fans. Or asking what's nex...t? Putting your two cents on an issue you know nothing of the DETAILS is quite disturbing. This is a business matter that needs good common sense and good business sense that anyone in our position needs to apply.
A quote Elvis stated many times:
"Don't criticize what you don't understand, son... you never walked in that man’s shoes."
Elvis' luxury jets Go To Auction!: Elvis Presley's pair of personal jets, one complete with gilded wash basin and plush sleeping quarters, will go under the hammer in a sealed-bid auction for a piece of mile-high rock and roll memorabilia, Julien's Auctions said on Friday. Jets "Lisa Marie" and "Hound Dog II" that the late King of Rock and Roll helped design himself will be offered together to bidders and are expected to fetch between $10 million and $15 million, the Beverly Hills, California, auction house said.
They are no longer airworthy, but have been on view for visitors at Graceland for the past three decades.
Presley bought the Convair 880 jet from Delta Air Lines in 1975 for $250,000.
He named it "Lisa Marie" after his daughter and spent more than $300,000 refurbishing the jet with a penthouse bedroom, executive conference room, bar and videotape system linked to four TVs. He had the plane painted with his motto "TCB" - "Takin' Care of Business" - on the tail.
He purchased the eight-to-10 passenger "Hound Dog II," a Lockheed Jetstar, also in 1975 for about $900,000 while waiting on the refurbishment of the "Lisa Marie."
Only 65 Convair 880 model jets were produced from 1959 to 1962.
The buyer also has the option to purchase several acres adjacent to Graceland to display the jets, independent of the Presley museum. An agreement between Graceland and the jets' current owners is set to expire at the end of April. (News, Source;AP/ElvisInfoNet, Jan 2015)
Elvis Lives in Graceland Bonds......Due 67 Years After King’s Death:Every year, 600,000 people pay as much as $74 to tour Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion, gaping at animal skulls and stained-glass peacocks, lime-green shag carpet on the Jungle Room’s floor and lime-green shag carpet on its ceiling.
Now a development authority plans to sell as much as $125 million in bonds in January to finance improvements at Graceland. They’re counting on the curious to keep streaming to the privately owned estate for decades, generating sales, property and special tourism taxes to pay the debt over as long as 30 years.
A 450-room hotel and conference center, restaurants, a theater, and as much as seven acres (2.8 hectares) of retail and exhibit space are envisioned. The improvements will “preserve the incomparable legacy of Elvis Presley, The Icon and The Man,” say documents detailing the plan.
“We want to solidify the Elvis brand, give it a new sheen and polish,” said Reid Dulberger, chief executive of the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County, which will issue the bonds in a private placement.
The facilities “were old and tired,” he said. “Our concern was that we wouldn’t continue to see the kind of return visits that we see year after year from the faithful.”
Good Rockin’: Memphis, on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, has a population of 653,450, of whom 63 percent are black and 27 percent live below the poverty line. It has lost 35,700 jobs since the recession, according a report from the Greater Memphis Chamber. An improved Graceland would have a $1 billion impact on Memphis’ economy over the next 15 years, according to documents distributed by backers.
Success depends on the staying power of a legend.
Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, and got his first guitar at age 11. Two years later, the family moved to Memphis, home of Beale Street, where a signature blues sound prevailed. Presley recorded his first songs at what would become Sun Studio.
His blend of rock, blues and gospel, his looks and his swivel-hipped dances drove teenage girls to frenzy -- “a rancid-smelling aphrodisiac” was Frank Sinatra’s description. He became the King of Rock ’n’ Roll and a movie star. Composer Leonard Bernstein called him “the greatest cultural force in the 20th century.”
Elvis' Uncle Travis with fans at the famous Graceland Gates in 1957
Burning Love: As the years passed, a penchant for prescription drugs and fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches undermined his health and bloated his body. He took to the stage in sequined jump suits and jewelry, striking karate-inspired poses.
Presley bought Graceland in 1957, and decorated it with gaudy verve. The Jungle Room includes monkey statues, a stone wall with ivy and a mammoth coffee table of petrified wood. The pleated fabric ceiling of the billiards room drapes above the game table like an upside-down sofa pillow. Television screens line the media room.
Presley died in a Graceland bathroom at 42 in 1977 and is buried next to his parents near the swimming pool.
His daughter, Lisa Marie, owns the estate and more than 1 million artifacts, including Cadillacs, costumes, guitars and a 41-carat ruby and diamond ring. The mansion opened to the public in 1982, becoming the city’s biggest attraction.
Loving You : It sits on Elvis Presley Boulevard behind a gated wall covered with the scrawled messages to Elvis. Dollar stores, payday lenders, fast-food chains and used-car lots line the road, where vendors sell T-shirts, nuts, wheelchairs and walkers.
Graceland is the third-most-visited home in the U.S., after the White House and the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, according to Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages the attraction. Twenty-two percent of visitors are from other countries, with Canada and the U.K. in the lead. The Elvis Week waiting list at Graceland’s 128-room Heartbreak Hotel is 100 years long. Paying off the new project’s debt will require sustained interest in Presley, said Tom McBride, a professor at Beloit College in Wisconsin who co-authors the “Mindset List,” an enumeration of cultural phenomena familiar to the young. A 15-year-old in 1956, when “Heartbreak Hotel” went to No. 1, would be 73 today.
Ask Me - “The boomers remember what it meant to have Elvis come on the scene, the revolutionary effect that it had,” he said. The young “have a vague sense of him as a rock ’n’ roll icon. They might go to Graceland ironically, or maybe out of a sense of curiosity.”
Expansion plans, including a conference-capable hotel, have been discussed for years, said Jack Soden, chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises. The idea got traction last year after a partnership led by Joel Weinshanker, founder of National Entertainment Collectibles Association of Hillside, New Jersey, acquired the company.
“Elvis is a huge growth area,” Weinshanker told Bloomberg Television in August.
Documents distributed by the development authority say revenue bonds with a term of 30 years will be sold to finance the expansion. James McLaren, an attorney for the project, said the initial debt will be for a shorter term and then refinanced.
Suspicious Minds - Memphis and Shelby County agreed this month to allow half of the new property taxes and all new sales-tax revenue generated by the improvements to go toward the bonds for 20 years. A special sales-tax surcharge will also be charged inside the Graceland zone, raising the levy there to 14 percent from 9 percent.
Memphis, Shelby County and the development authority aren’t responsible for the debt if revenue flags.
Gene Gard, a portfolio manager with Dupree & Co. Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky, which manages about $118 million in Tennessee debt, said he is cautious about bonds secured by sometimes-unstable tourism revenue: “We are very careful when it comes to attraction bonds such as these. Any project can be a good investment but it all depends on the way they are secured.”
Greg LeRoy, executive director of Washington-based Good Jobs First, which criticizes tax breaks for private business, said he doubts the economic claims.
“Tourism is a thin reed for supporting jobs,” he said.
For now, Elvis’s crowds are coming.
On a weekday this month, a crowd gathered to wait for packed shuttle buses passing through the gates every 20 minutes. About half of the crowd had gray hair and a few used walkers. Yet among them were a young Peruvian man and a German couple, he with a mohawk and she with a shaved head. (Source: Margaret Newkirk and Carlton Purvis, Bloomberg, Dec 2014)
Very High Prices for "Graceland Guest House" Founders: EPE have announced seemingly ridiculous prices to become a founding member of their new hotel complex - up to $30,000 - something the average Elvis fan could never afford. The publicity promises, "Graceland is proud to announce The Founders, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the ultimate Elvis fan. Only 1,500 Founders will be in on the ground floor to gain exclusive lifetime access to rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest landmark and its groundbreaking new resort - The Guest House at Graceland.
As a Founder you will be our special guest and enjoy unprecedented access to Graceland, special events, exclusive opportunities, and Southern hospitality as only Elvis could offer. This lifetime 40-year membership, with first option to renew, can be handed down to the next generations. You’ve always belonged here, you’ve always felt the connection, and now it’s time to come home to Graceland."
They are asking for a $500 deposit but the total price (as handed out during Elvis Week) is quite unbelievable.
The "DIAMOND LEVEL" entry promises the following...
Stay up to 10 nights a year at The Guest House with no blackout dates, and pay only the hotel maintenance fee (currently $71.50 per night)
Early access to reservations, up to 13 months in advance
Guaranteed Elvis Week accommodations when reserved more than 12 months in advance
Guaranteed suite upgrade for non-premiere weeks, if reserved more than 6 months in advance
Invitation to the family cocktail gala
Your Time Capsule and personal Grand Plaque on The Founders Wall at The Guest House
Annual archival Diamond Level gift on Elvis’ birthday
The cost of this is $30,000!
No wonder, as Forbes noted (see EIN's August 15 'Why Did Graceland Have the Elvis Week Auction?' story below) the Graceland Auction was a good idea for EPE to learn who the Elvis high-rollers might be.
EIN reads the above description to mean that for $30,000 you can ONLY stay TEN nights at the new complex per year - and you still have to pay $71.50 per night!
What sort of Elvis fan can afford that? This seems a very expensive time-share deal!
As the new owners ABG announced back in 2013 "We envision moving the Elvis brand into other realms beyond music, including the luxury items market." ABG's Joel Weinshanker was at Elvis Week and appears to be the driving force.
The lesser "GOLD LEVEL" Founder (for only 750 members)
Let's you stay only FIVE nights at the new complex per year, you still have to pay $71.50 per night and costs the lesser price of $10,000! And you don't get the "Invitation to the family cocktail gala".
No more flickering candlelight at Graceland??: EPE is not having a good run! First there was controversy when it announced the name change of Elvis Insiders to Graceland Insiders, then things really became turbulent with the news that the airplanes may soon depart Graceland for good.
Now a rumor has surfaced on the message boards and social media that the very popular Candlelight Vigil is in danger of having its flame extinguished! Fact or baseless rumor? Guess we'll have to wait and see.
The changes being made/considered by National Entertainment Collectibles Association, the new "operating" managers of Graceland, suggest their vision is (at least partly) grounded in the realisation that (pragmatically) the 'baby boomer' cohort has diminishing importance and ongoing success lies in focusing more on the general tourist market! (EIN Comment/Sale of EPE, 12 July 2014)
'With all the rumour and counter rumour regarding the Lisa Marie airplane story as reported by the Associated Press I thought it only fair to try and get to the bottom of the many assumptions being made by fans, myself included, on various forums, fan sites and facebook.
I called Mr K G Coker of the OKC Partnership who owns the two airplanes in Memphis to try and clarify a few questions that I primarily had myself. Although Mr Coker obviously has a financial interest at stake (as do the new owners at EPE) it soon became very clear to me that he also has us, the Elvis fans at heart too!
He recalled the day Elvis died, his office was at Memphis airport where the Lisa Marie was packed and ready to leave for Portland, Maine. He heard on the radio that Elvis had died and went out to the pilot who confirmed the news, he also remembered the fans and how they were trying to get to the airplane that day, this was when he realised just what the Lisa Marie might mean to us the Elvis fans.
It was in 1984 with co-operation of the then Elvis estate and Jack Soden (who worked tirelessly) that a deal was reached to display the Lisa Marie at Graceland, the Hound Dog Jet-Star would follow later.
The arrangement was that financial remuneration would be paid to the OKC Partnership for the display of the airplanes.
The contract has never addressed the Lisa Marie or the Jet Star individually or even as part of a tour bundle, and although not in the contract, up until August of this year (2014) it has been in the bundled tour package for 25 years.
Mr Coker says he is concerned that by separating the airplanes from the bundle some fans might be disadvantaged and not be able to afford to view 'the pride of Elvis Presley airways.'
In relation to the public release of the Graceland letter from Jack Soden, it seems to have been a forced hand, he didn't want to release it, but as it was beginning to look like the OKC Partnership was to blame he felt he had no choice to make things clearer to the Elvis fan base.
It is the new owners ENTERTAINMENT COLLECTIBLES ASSOCIATION, INC* that are making these changes, and Mr Coker would like to make it clear that he is truly appreciative that Priscilla is trying to help out regarding the situation.
Although OKC still have three of the four Lisa Marie’s engines that were removed (the fourth went to a tech school) Mr Coker says he would like nothing better than the Lisa Marie and Jet Star to stay at Graceland forever, but that an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved has to be reached.
Personally, and as a fan myself, I really do hope that can be accomplished to everyone’s satisfaction, fingers crossed.' (News, Source:Elvis Express Radio, 10 July 2014)
The Elvis Planes at Graceland situation??: So who do we believe? That the owner of the two planes at Graceland is stirring the pot or that it is really EPE driving the agenda?
Well this "leaked" EPE letter (dated 7 April 2014), published by Elvis Matters, appears to suggest where the "push" on the story is coming from, with EPE clearly stating to K.G. Coker (owner of the two planes) that on 5 August 2014, EPE's Platinum Tickets Package will exclude the planes and that "...it has been decided to exercise EPE's option to end the [planes] agreement as of April 26, 2015 and ask you to make arrangements for the removal of the airplanes and the restoration of the site on or shortly after April 26, 2015."
Elvis Matters also reported: The "airplanes" discussion is reaching a climax. It's obvious that both parties (EPE on one hand and the current owner on the other) are playing it hard, how else can one explain that private letters like these are leaked to the fans? Priscilla has once again reacted, and asks fans to stay calm, and trust the management of Graceland. More so, Priscilla says that a lot of new susprises are coming our way and assures a happy ending. Wait and see!
It is EIN's opinion that Priscilla Presley's accusatory statement on her Facebook page against Mr Coker's company is a basic "corporate" ploy and rather disingenuous (given the above letter):
I’m reading what you are saying, but listen, the people who own the plane put the release out to intentionally upset everyone. We’re on top of it. Thank you for your trust in us. We will soon be putting out a release about some new and exciting things happening at Graceland. If you want to even hear more about it... come to Graceland in August. That way you will hear it and experience it first hand. I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.
So what is it all about?....well supergroup ABBA probably sang it the best: "Money, Money, Money". (News, Source: EIN/Elvis Matters, 9 July 2014)
Future of Elvis’ Airplanes at Graceland in doubt?: It has been a bad week for EPE! After strong fan backlash over plans to change the name of its “Elvis Insiders” club (see report 1 July), it is again under fire, this time with apparent plans to end its agreement with the owner of Elvis’ two airplanes for their continued exhibition at Graceland.
From an AP report: For 30 years, tourists from around the world have paid money to get a look at two airplanes once owned by Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis. Fans enjoy touring the planes for their direct connection to Presley and his jet-setting lifestyle, a sort of touchstone to the life of the King of Rock and Roll and his family.
By April of next year, the planes named Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II could be gone. Elvis Presley Enterprises, which operates the Graceland tourist attraction, has written to the planes' owners saying they should prepare to remove the jets from Graceland by next spring. The planes have been a tourist attraction since the mid-1980s. They had been sold after Presley's death, and were eventually purchased by OKC Partnership in Memphis.
OKC Partnership and Graceland agreed to bring the two jets to Graceland. The agreement called for OKC Partnership to receive a cut of ticket sales in return for keeping the planes there. In an April 7 letter to OKC Partnership's K.G. Coker, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden says the company is exercising its option to end the agreement and asks Coker "to make arrangements for the removal of the airplanes and the restoration of the site on or shortly after April 26, 2015." Their removal could cause an uproar among fans, especially those who visit Graceland every year as part of an annual pilgrimage to events such as Elvis Week and the candlelight vigil commemorating Presley's death.
Dedicated Elvis fan Paul Fivelson of Algonquin, Illinois, says he expects many fans will be upset to hear the planes may be leaving: "The people who come to Memphis for Elvis Week like seeing those planes there because it's just part of the whole aura of what Elvis was about," Fivelson said Tuesday. "It would be kind of blasphemous to take them away, and I think there are probably a lot of fans who will feel the same way."
The disclosure also raises questions about the future use of the site where the airplanes now sit, across the street from Presley's longtime home. Elvis Presley Enterprises declined immediate comment.
In November 2013, New York-based Authentic Brands Group bought Elvis Presley Enterprises and the licensing and merchandising rights for Presley's music and image from CORE Media Group. As part of the deal, Joel Weinshanker, founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, acquired the operating rights to Graceland, which attracts about 500,000 visitors each year. After the sale, Authentic Brands said upgrades to the tourist attraction were planned. Earlier this year, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced plans to build a 450-room hotel, theater and restaurant, with a projected opening date of August 2015. Their plan was approved Tuesday by the Memphis City Council.
Today, Graceland visitors can buy a ticket that includes a tour of Presley's home-turned-museum and the two airplanes. Fans climb into the airplanes for an up-close look at their interiors. The larger plane, a Convair 880 named after Presley's daughter Lisa Marie, is like a customized flying limousine, complete with a large bed, a stereo system, conference room and gold-plated bathroom fixtures.
It was renovated after Presley bought it from Delta Air Lines. Presley took his first flight on it in November 1975. When Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, Presley's pilot flew the Lisa Marie to California to pick up Presley's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, to bring her back to Memphis. The smaller jet, a JetStar named the Hound Dog II, was also used by Presley.
At one point, after the planes were sold following the singer's death, the Lisa Marie was owned by Raymond Zimmerman, owner of the Service Merchandise chain, according to Coker. The Hound Dog II was in the hands of Hustler head Larry Flynt for a time, Coker said. OKC Partnership eventually bought the planes and the Lisa Marie was installed at Graceland in 1984. The Hound Dog II came later. Coker, 76, says OKC may sell the planes if they're removed from Graceland, but he still hopes to negotiate a deal that would keep the planes there. Coker acknowledges that he and his partners would lose money from ticket sales if the planes were removed.
"I would love to see the airplanes stay where they are forever," Coker said. "Millions of fans have toured those airplanes and there's a real connection between fans and those airplanes. Those airplanes are part of the Elvis experience."
EIN has received a number of messages on the issue: This one epitomizes fan feelings:
Brave decision given the recent backlash to changing Elvis Insiders name (which they quickly backtracked on but of course that was much easier to do than the planes decision). Wonder if it is really because of the redevelopment plan or if EPE manoeuvring for a much better deal on the planes. Certainly would free up a lot of space and for new tourists to G/L they won’t realise what they’re missing. Of course older fans will be incensed. Progress does that to us!
In response to negative backlash, Priscilla Presley apparently posted on her Facebook page:
I see your posts about the planes. Please calm down, we're in the midst of negotiations. It's as simple as that. Thank you.
EIN Comment: As the AP report gives NO indication the issue was actually being negotiated it was quite reasonable that fans thought the issue was NOT “....as simple as that”.
The bottom line is EPE can do what they want (regardless of what fans think), however greater transparency and a more effective pr strategy would benefit them greatly with fans! It is surprising (downright worrying) EPE has not realised this over the years. After more than three decades the EPE organisation continues to not understand and therefore underestimate how fans think and feel!
The reality is the owner of the planes, OKC Partnership, stands to lose a lot if the planes are no longer on display at Graceland. By themselves they would not be a huge tourist attraction except maybe as part of an airplane museum.
The planes represent an important part of the Elvis story and as such it is reasonable to view the current situation as a strategic ploy on the part of EPE to obtain a significantly improved financial deal on their continued presence at Graceland. (News/Comment, Source: AP/Facebook/EIN, 3 July 2014)
Monday 16 December 2013
Additional information on sale of EPE: In November 2013, New York-based Authentic Brands Group bought Elvis Presley Enterprises and the licensing and merchandising rights for Presley's music and image from CORE Media Group.
As part of the deal, Joel Weinshanker, founder of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, acquired the operating rights to Graceland, which attracts about 500,000 visitors each year.
After the sale, Authentic Brands said upgrades to the tourist attraction were planned. Earlier this year, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced plans to build a 450-room hotel, theater and restaurant, with a projected opening date of August 2015. Their plan was approved by the Memphis City Council.
ABG's New Expansion Plans for Graceland: ABG that now owns EPE are promising major upgrades to the property surrounding Graceland which will include expanding Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and boosting the number of Elvis artifacts available for public viewing. "People who come to Memphis for Elvis Week in August of 2014 will be very surprised at the material things that have been done," said ABG's Joel Weinshanker. "There needs to be a better reason to come to Graceland and stay longer and that means nicer places to stay and more interesting things to see." Additional areas of the Graceland compound may be opened up for tours and an additional site showcasing the King's memorabilia is being considered on the premises.
Details about the expansion proposed for the 128-room hotel
were not yet available.
Weinshanker was in Memphis last week meeting with local architects to map out the Graceland plans. He said the Graceland-area upgrade plans have been in the pipeline for more than a year and funding is now being allocated to move the project forward.
Jack Soden, the longtime CEO of EP will continue in his leadership role at the company. He welcomed the energy being generated by new owners. He said more details about the new plans will be unveiled in the coming weeks and that branding efforts are being developed to broaden the Elvis industry around the globe and across social networking platforms.
Weinshanker will oversee the Memphis operation while the ABG Group handles the global licensing and merchandising of the Elvis image. (News, Source;BrianQuinn/ElvisInfoNet)
New Elvis owners discussing Graceland upgrades: An executive with ABG that recently purchased Elvis Presley’s intellectual property says it is discussing ways to expand the late rock and roll icon’s brand and upgrades to the Graceland tourist attraction.
Fans’ hunger for more of the King has been fed in recent years by releases of music compilations such as the "Elvis at Stax" CD box set and by new exhibits at Graceland. Woodhouse envisions moving the brand into other realms beyond music, including the luxury items market.
As an example, Woodhouse cites the appearance of Presley’s likeness on Dolce & Gabbana T-shirts. Authentic Brands’ higher-end brands include Judith Leiber handbags, Bobby Jones golf clothing and equipment and men’s clothier Hickey Freeman.
Woodhouse believes there is also room for brand growth among younger fans. He notes that more than 9.5 million people like Presley’s Facebook page, "Clearly, he resonates on social media and he resonates on other more modern platforms as well."
Authentic Brands and Weinshanker, along with input from Presley’s former wife, Priscilla Presley, and their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, also are discussing ways to upgrade Graceland, the tourist attraction focused around Presley’s longtime Memphis home, Woodhouse said. Woodhouse did not discuss details of the upgrades, but says the new operators are considering some "great ideas."
Wednesday 20 November 2013 - - - - EPE SOLD AGAIN in 2013! - - - -
Elvis Presley Enterprises Bought by Authentic Brands Group: The King of Rock 'n' Roll has now joined Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali to comprise a powerful group ABG owned Iconic Brands. Authentic Brands Group (ABG) announced today the acquisition of EPE Inc assets from the CORE Media Group. Following the acquisition, ABG will own and manage, in partnership with the Presley family and Joel Weinshanker, Chairman and Founder of National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), the intellectual property associated with one of the most widely recognized and beloved entertainers in the world.
"We are honored to welcome Elvis into the ABG brand portfolio and look forward to working alongside the Presley family and the team at EPE to increase Elvis' popularity and fan base worldwide," said Jamie Salter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ABG. "This is an exciting day for Elvis and his fans," said Priscilla Presley. "We look forward to working with the ABG team to further promote the legacy of Elvis. This is the opportunity the family has been envisioning to expand the Graceland experience and enhance Elvis' image all over the world." Lisa Marie Presley noted, "While I will continue to own Graceland and Elvis' original artifacts, we are looking forward to working with
our new partners to continue the growth and expansion we have been working towards.The licensing and merchandising aspect of this business is not to be confused with the fact that the property will always remain with me and my family. However, this is a great partnership for our family and Elvis fans worldwide." EIN notes that the previous plans to refurbish and modernize the Graceland as a bigger tourist attraction had been put on hold, but they could be renewed now that the sale is complete.
In connection with the acquisition, ABG will assume the global rights to a vast library of photographic imagery, including artwork, album covers and movie posters; video and audio assets, including television appearances and music specials; Elvis' name and likeness; and other assets, including the rights to major Elvis
themed events such as Elvis Week, an international celebration of Elvis' life and legacy.
In connection with the transaction, Joel Weinshanker will acquire the rights to the management of Graceland operations, Elvis' home in Memphis, Tennessee, with ABG and the Presley family as partners. Graceland recently captured the #1 spot on USA Today and 10Best's "Best Iconic American Attractions".
"It is with great honor, and a profound sense of responsibility that we assume ownership of the Graceland operations," said Weinshanker. "We will usher in a new era of an enhanced Graceland experience, run for the fans, by a fan. Graceland is Elvis Presleys' castle, and I look forward to helping take this global landmark to new and exciting heights. We look forward to continuing to give visitors to Graceland, whether
online or in–person, whether their first visit or their 500th, a world class experience."
ABG brands already include Marilyn Monroe, Juicy Couture, Judith Leiber, Adrienne Vittadini, Taryn Rose, Hickey Freeman, TapouT and Sportcraft. They now add Muhammad Ali and Elvis.
Based in New York ABG's mission is to further enhance brand equity through partnering with best-in-class licensees and retailers. (News, Source;MartyL/BrianQuinn/ElvisInfoNet)
Tuesday 8 October 2013
NOW - Authentic Brands in lead for EPE purchase: It appears that Authentic Brands, which owns the rights to Marilyn Monroe’s name and image, has emerged as the lead bidder for the Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali assets being sold by Apollo’s Core Media.
The brand licensing company, backed by private-equity firm Leonard Green, has been in the hunt for a while but recently upped its offer to $125 million, according to sources.
That’s $15 million more than a bidding consortium led by the G2 Group, which teamed with music publishing firm Sony/ATV and Highbridge Capital.
Authentic rival Iconix also was initially interested.
Besides the name and likeness of Elvis, Core Media is looking to unload the Graceland tour operation and Elvis’ music publishing assets as it focuses on its TV production interests. While the negotiations are ongoing, executives of Authentic Brands, headed by Jamie Salter, have met with the two famous families involved.
Authentic has snapped up the rights dead celebrities, including reggae legend Bob Marley, in addition to buying fashion brands such as Hickey Freeman suits and Spyder ski wear. (News, Source;SanjaM/ElvisInfoNet)
Friday 6 September 2013
'Last Train to Memphis' movie director chosen: The new Elvis biopic 'Last Train to Memphis' is still in production with 'Marley' & 'Last King of Scotland' director Kevin MacDonald on board for Fox 2000. Based on the 1995 Peter Guralnick biography, the film chronicles Presley’s early years and his transformation from a high school kid to an overnight sensation credited with ushering in a radical new era in music. Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman will produce through their Jagged Films banner along with Steven Bing, who will produce through his Shangri-La shingle. John Fusco is adapting the script.
The studio along with MacDonald and the producers will now begin searching for the young Presley, starting with a recently-launched website Young Elvis Presley where actors can submit audition tapes singing six to eight bars of any Presley song.
Jagger has been championing musical biopics lately, clearly a natural fit for the seasoned rocker and he’s also producing a James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman.
Kevin MacDonald most recently produced the sensational music bio 'Marley' about Bob Marley. (News, Source;Various/ElvisInfoNet)
Sony/ATV group is leader in EPE Bid: An investment group that includes Sony/ATV, the music publishing giant half-owned by the estate of Michael Jackson, is emerging as the favorite to acquire EPE from Apollo’s Core Media Group which is selling EPE assets along with the name and likeness of Muhammad Ali. According to a source other suitors, Universal Music Group and fashion merchandising giant, Iconix did not submit bids. Sony/ATV, the music publishing arm of Sony, co-owned by the estate of the late King of Pop, already owns publishing rights to Elvis songs but pays royalties to the Elvis estate. Those royalties will no longer need to be paid if it succeeds in buying the assets from Apollo.
Any successful bidder will have to work hard to polish the Elvis brand, which earned $55 million in both 2012 and 2011, according to Forbes, down slightly from the $60 million it earned in 2010.
Record sales are not included in Forbes’ tally for Elvis, who died in 1977.
"Elvis is going to keep generating tens of millions of dollars a year, but I don’t know how easy it is to make those numbers go up."
A movie about the King of Rockn'Roll (see above story) could fire up profits for the Presley estate, sources said, much like what "Walk the Line" did for Johnny Cash.
Any deals for Elvis, movie or otherwise, would have to meet the approval of the Presley family. Lisa Marie Presley retains a 15 percent interest in Elvis Enterprises, just as the Ali family holds a stake, about 20 percent, in the Ali assets being sold. (News, Source;JGansky/ElvisInfoNet)
Thursday 15 August 2013 .... ELVIS WEEK ....
Elvis Presley Estate Bid in Second Round: The auction for Core Media’s packaged estates of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali is now in the second round as bids. The New York Post reported that bids were due Wednesday.
Among the suitors expected to place bids are Sony Corp and the G2 Investment Group. A couple of companies that mine name and likeness assets are also expected to place bids.
Sony Music Entertainment already handles the Presley master recording catalog, so if its bid were successful the company would no longer need to make artist royalty payments to the estate.
Sources say that the properties up for sale generate about $15 million annually in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
In another measure, the Presley publishing catalog, which is currently administered by Imagem, reportedly has $6 million in net publisher's share. That catalog is 50% owned by the Presley estate and 50% owned by the heirs of Hill & Range founder Julian Aberbach and his brother, Jean. The part up for sale has $3 million in net publisher's share. The packaging of the Presley and the Ali assets make it difficult for bidders to get a handle on the assets, because running those assets and maximizing revenue require diverse skill sets. For example, in addition to the recording masters royalties and the publishing assets, the Presley estate also includes real estate assets like Graceland and Heartbreak Hotel. Sony could buy the
music assets, but does the company have expertise in running themed real estate assets like Graceland and the hotel?
While first round bids for the Presley and Ali estate were in the $200 million range, sources say second round bids lowered in the $100 million to $150 million range, because the recognition that both Heartbreak Hotel and the Graceland mansion itself will require a capital infusion in order to upgrade and maintain the properties. (News, Source;ElvisInfoNet)
Tuesday 23 July 2013
Elvis Heirs Win German Court Case Against Sony: EPE & Lisa Marie, the heirs of Elvis' estate, have won a tactical court case in Germany, where they are campaigning to claw back lost royalties - nearly $5million - for radio replays of the King of Rock's greatest hits.
A Munich appeal court on Thursday ordered a company controlled by Sony to disclose how many times the songs had been played in Germany since April 2008.
Europe's most populous nation and its "golden oldie" stations are still in love with Elvis, who died in 1977.
The ruling raises the odds that Elvis Presley Enterprises, which has the King's daughter Lisa-Marie Presley as a 15-per-cent shareholder, can circumvent a 1973 contract in which he sold many of his future royalties for a lump sum to RCA Records, now part of Sony.
The heirs are appealing a decision against them in a lower German court.
Appeal judges ruled that 3.34 million euros ($A4.78 million) are at stake in the case. They set no date for their final decision on the merits of the claim. (News, Source;ElvisInfoNet)
2013 - May 24.
Graceland NOT for Sale: Several Elvis websites - as well as the UK's Financial Times - have incorrectly reported that Graceland is for sale. This is not true. In fact the reports notes, "A significant potential for expansion".
.. Elvis Presley’ EPE business and rights to the images of Elvis and Muhammad Ali are on the market with a possible price tag of more than $200m, people familiar with the process said.
Three people familiar with the process said Core Media Group, the entertainment group behind TV programmes such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, has begun approaching potential bidders from Asia, Europe and the US for Elvis Presley Enterprises and Muhammad Ali Enterprises.
Core, known as CKx before Apollo Global Management bought it for $509m in 2011, has appointed The Raine Group, a New York merchant bank, to review strategic alternatives, two of these people said. It is
testing the market but could keep both if it is unhappy with the offers it
receives, they said, but Core hopes to focus on producing content for television
and digital outlets. Core and Raine declined to comment.
More than 35 years after Presley’s death and 32 years after Ali’s retirement, the two assets generate revenues of about $60m a year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about $23m.
Despite global downturn, a record of stable, predictable cash flows and a history of revenue raising Elvis re-releases, people familiar with the Presley estate see significant potential for expansion if a buyer is willing to invest.
Possible investments include an Elvis-themed hotel near Graceland in Memphis, a stage show in an Asian casino hub suchas Macau, and digital and social media expansion. People familiar with the estate add that per capita spending by Graceland’s 550,000 annual visitors is relatively low and could be improved. (EIN notes, Really!!??)
The Presley family, represented by the singer’s daughter, Lisa Marie, retained 15 per cent of the company when it sold the remainder to Robert Sillerman’s CKx for about $100m in 2004.
Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings division holds the rights to all Presley’s master recordings, and has overseen several reissues, including plans to release a deluxe edition of “Elvis at Stax” in August.
Core considered a bid for Endemol before the European television production company’s owners put sale talks on hold. A successful sale could raise proceeds for a renewed attempt to buy Endemol or other production businesses. EIN notes that while the news report says that Elvis Presley Enterprises includes, More than 110,000 pieces of memorabilia, including 3,000 pieces of clothing and 30 vehicles; royalties from 24 films; and copyrights and royalties for 1,150 songs. - These like Graceland itself are NOT for sale.
Lisa Marie has noted, "Business-wise any company can always grow, what is predominately sacred and can never be touched is Graceland itself and its contents and artifacts and that is and remains mine and my family's forever.
Lisa Marie has also clarified after the sale to CKx, "The home Graceland is absolutely mine. Everything in it is mine. All of his personal things are mine." No need to worry Elvis fans, this could mean even more Elvis! (News, Source,ElvisInfoNet)
Graceland expansion slated for 2012 / 2013: With the Apollo CKX takeover in progress the slated Graceland expansion has been mentioned. .. "In connection with the definitive merger agreement reached with CKX, Apollo has also obtained support agreements from two significant stockholders, The Promenade Trust, the sole beneficiary of which is Lisa Marie Presley and which is the Company's partner in EPE, and Robert F.X. Sillerman, the Company's largest stockholder. CKX will become a private company, controlled by an affiliate of Apollo, after completion of the offering.
Analyst Michael Altberg commented, "We believe potential volatility in the domestic television performance of American Idol, and the characteristic long-term decline of such shows, would have negative repercussions on revenue generated" noting that these factors are only partly offset by American Idol's current dominance of primetime audience ratings, and some degree of annual revenue visibility due to TV license fees and royalties/licensing revenue from its 85% ownership interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises. The Graceland tourist attraction, while popular, is slated for expansion capital expenditures in 2012 and 2013, and involves a risk of return on investment." (News, Source;BrianQuinn/ElvisInfoNetwork) June 2011
Thursday 12 May 2011
CKX sells out to Apollo Global Management:Robert Sillerman's dream collapsed this week when the New York-based company that owns the Graceland operation and the rights to the name and image of Elvis Presley, as well as other entertainment companies, was sold for about $511 million in cash. A private-equity group led by Apollo Global Management announced Tuesday that it is buying CKx, which operates Graceland, Presley's iconic Memphis home, and has proprietary rights to the "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" brands.
This isn't the first time an Apollo deal touched Memphis. Five years ago, it bought then-Memphis-based Harrah's Entertainment and a unit of International Paper.
The CKx board and The Promenade Trust, a group that benefits Lisa Marie Presley and is the company's partner managing the Elvis Presley name, support the deal, as does Robert F.X. Sillerman, the company's largest shareholder with a nearly 21 percent stake.
A cash tender offer is expected to start soon and expire in 20 days.
It was unclear Tuesday what consequence the deal may have for Graceland, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Memphis.
It's conceivable that Apollo would be better positioned to carry out a $250 million plan by CKx -- announced in 2007 but mothballed -- to expand Graceland's visitor center and add shops, attractions and a new hotel.
"We're certainly hoping they will take a good, hard look and listen to experts that run Elvis Presley Enterprises locally," Kane said, "and continue on with some of the enhancements we think will take Graceland to the next level.
"The goal is: How do we get Graceland to go from 650,000-700,000 to over 1 million visitors a year? How do we invest to get a return on annual basis of 30 percent in added visitors?"
EPE already has invested money in property acquisition and demolition of old apartment complexes.
"I can almost assure you they are going to continue down the path considering all the work that's been put in it thus far," City Councilman Harold Collins said.
Whatever happens with Graceland, the city will pursue a $45 million improvement of a 2.5-mile section of Elvis Presley Boulevard stretching from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive, Collins said. The project would include $1.8 million from the city and the rest in federal and state money.
But the deal brings to an end one-time radio and concert mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman's dream of creating an entertainment power built on the licensing rights of the baby boom's cultural icons. (Above, Sillerman with Priscilla) At one point he even hoped to land rights to The Beatles. CKX caught everyone's attention in 2005 when Sillerman bought Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment. CKX also owns the firm that manages Woody Allen, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Sillerman had to be taken seriously: A pal of Mel Brooks and co-investor in his Broadway production of The Producers, Sillerman became a billionaire in the 1990s after collecting and selling the network of concert venues that now forms the core of Live Nation. But Sillerman's plans for CKX fell apart after he invested in Las Vegas property with the idea of creating an Elvis Presley-themed casino, just before the real estate market collapsed. He left the company last year but remains a major shareholder. CKX shares, which traded for as much as $29 in 2005, closed yesterday at $4.45. Sillerman and Lisa Marie Presley, also a major CKX shareholder, have agreed to the sale.
Revenue fell 20 percent to $53.3 million from $66.6 million, last year. (News, Source;Various)
Financial 'Trouble' for CKX and Graceland: Elvis may have banking issues as CKX Inc which owns the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley as well as the operations of Graceland, has announced they are holding off on the ambitious $250 million plan to redevelop the late singer's estate after reporting a wider fourth-quarter loss. With CKX, the company that controls the Elvis Presley brand and Graceland, posting a loss in 2010, it appears plans to redevelop the legend’s former home are on hold. An expanded visitors center, merchandising shops and, potentially, a new hotel, will not be coming to Graceland any time soon.
Attendance at Graceland dropped 4.4 percent to 518,940 visitors last year, down from 542,728 in 2009, according to the filing. Revenue from the attraction fell slightly to $36 million as higher merchandise sales helped offset the slump in visitors.
The overall Elvis business, including royalties and licensing, fell 5.4 percent to $57.3 million, the regulatory filing said.
In 2005, CKX, which owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, announced a makeover of the 13.5 acre estate in Memphis, to include an expanded visitor center, more shops and a potential new hotel.
Last year, CKX hinted that the massive project would be scaled back because of the tough economy.
'VIVA ELVIS' Rolling-the-dice in Vegas: Since the massive City Center casino complex opened in Las Vegas last December amid the steepest decline in tourism in decades, its owners are still scrambling to figure out how to fix the 67-acre development's financial problems. Closing the 'Viva Elvis' Cirque du Soleil show was suggested as one cost-cutting option.
The $8.7 billion project, with its hotels, condominiums, casino and giant mall designed by Daniel Libeskind, is the largest privately funded construction project in the U.S. It was supposed to usher in a new era of sophistication and urban living in the gaming capital. But it almost collapsed before it opened, and because of its huge scale, its fortunes and those of Las Vegas are closely linked.
Over the summer, executives of Dubai World and MGM Resorts International, which jointly own the project, studied and rejected the idea of closing two of the site's three hotels and the 'Viva Elvis' Cirque du Soleil show, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
City Center hopes to make back some of its extra costs by leasing about 200 of the units. An MGM chief executive chalked up the disappointment with City Center to the slower-than expected recovery nationally and in Las Vegas, and to the time it takes for a new resort to gain traction. (News, Source;SanjaM/ElvisInfoNet)
Graceland for sale. Sale of graceland. the sale of graceland. graceland sold.
New bid expected for CKX/EPE: Music industry titan Irving Azoff has decided to back Allen Shapiro's fight to buy "American Idol" franchise owner CKX Inc. Azoff, while not putting up any money immediately, is ready to pony up as much as $200 million for a minority stake in the company -- between 25 percent and 33 percent -- should the Shapiro-fronted bid prevail, sources said.
Shapiro's bid is backed by JPMorgan Chase's private-equity arm, One Equity Partners. The group has bid $550 million to $560 million. It is battling a group headed by Simon Fuller, who helped expand the "American Idol" franchise in its early years and later sold his company, 19 Entertainment, to CKX in 2005 for $300 million.
Fuller, who created the Spice Girls and is still an advisor to CKX, has made a $600 million bid, according to reports. Both Fuller and Shapiro are in the hunt for the publicly listed company, which is valued at around $460 million. In addition to Idol, CKX owns rights to Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.
Azoff wants a "deal for exploiting the management of the [American Idol] acts and the tour," said a source familiar with the situation. The 62-year-old executive chairman of Live Nation, which is promoting the Glee tour, feels he could be valuable in helping to market future Idol tours, the source said. A representative for Azoff had no comment. Shapiro and Greg O'Hara, who runs One Equity Partners, have been in New York this week for meetings with CKX to outline their offer, which would involve Shapiro moving in as CEO of CKX, sources said.
Shapiro also runs the TV Guide channel and helped facilitate a leveraged buyout of Dick Clark Productions.
Fuller is in partnership with former Barclays Capital executive Roger Jenkins. One wrinkle in the proceedings is former CKX CEO Robert Sillerman -- who exited the company unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Some say Shapiro had a hand in forcing out Sillerman -- who had been working with One Equity Partners in its bid.
Sillerman, 60, described as a "wounded bear," has a 20 percent stake in CKX. He was replaced by CEO Michael Ferrel. Both bidders would also have to convince other CKX shareholders, including Presley family members, of the benefits of their bid. A spokesman for CKX had no comment.
Another source close to proceedings said he would bet on a Shapiro win. "They don't have all the sturm and drang that the others have," said this financial executive. The strength of the bids imply that the Fox hit "American Idol" still has plenty of life left even as the latest finale ratings were down compared to previous years, and key judge Simon Cowell is leaving. Cowell's departure has prompted a torrent of speculation about who might replace him. Bret Michaels, the rock singer and the winner of "Celebrity Apprentice 3," is among names that have surfaced in the press.
Idol remains the top-rated show on TV helping Fox to win its sixth-straight season in the key advertiser demo of 18-49 year olds. This year's finale was watched by 24.2 million viewers. (Source: Elvis Matters, 6 June 2010)
Simon Fuller to buy CKX (including EPE):The owner of the "American Idol" reality TV show said Friday it has received an acquisition offer from a group of investors led by British media mogul Simon Fuller. CKX Inc. said it is evaluating the proposal and other strategic alternatives. Fuller created the "Idol" franchise but sold his company, 19 Entertainment, to CKX in 2005.
CKX did not say how much it was being offered but The Wall Street Journal said former Barclays Capital banker Roger Jenkins is one of the investors joining Fuller in a $600 million bid for CKX. The company also owns the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.
Fuller and Jenkins have created a $1 billion fund for acquisitions, the newspaper said.
Earlier this month, Robert F.X. Sillerman, CKX's founder, chairman and chief executive, resigned and said he was considering buying the company. Sillerman, who continues as a consultant to CKX, is the company's largest shareholder with a 21 percent stake. He served as chairman and CEO since the company's inception five years ago.
In 2008, privately held 19X Inc. -- controlled by Sillerman and Fuller -- abandoned plans to take CKX private because of tight credit conditions that made borrowing more difficult.
Fuller's latest bid comes after a seven-year run for "American Idol," which said goodbye to its famously caustic judge Simon Cowell on Wednesday.
While "Idol" remains the nation's favorite show, it has seen audience erosion this season.
In the first quarter, CKX posted a net loss as revenue fell 18 percent to $66.6 million amid restructuring costs.
Shares of CKX, which is based in New York, jumped $1.01, or 23.4 percent, to $5.33 in afternoon trading.(Source: AP, 30 May 2010)
Simon Fuller wants piece of Elvis: The creator of "American Idol" wants a piece of America's most enduring pop idol, Elvis Presley. An investor group led by "Idol" creator Simon Fuller has made a proposal to buy the company that owns "American Idol" and Elvis Presley Enterprises. Search our databases. The proposal, confirmed Friday by parent company CKx Inc., raises the possibility of a bidding war for Graceland's corporate ownership.
CKx founder Robert F.X. Sillerman stepped down as CEO and chairman this month to pursue other interests, including a possible purchase of the company. Memphis officials say the latest twist isn't cause to take their eyes off the prize of a redeveloped Elvis Presley Boulevard. "It's just an important artery and an important piece of property the city needs to improve," said City Council chairman Harold Collins.
"If CKx (Inc.) and Graceland decide to do their part, that's gravy. We're going to redevelop the street anyway." Memphis officials can only be concerned about the part of a proposed Graceland area redevelopment that they can control: improvements to the street and public infrastructure, Collins said.
Sillerman in 2007 unveiled a plan calling for a $250 million development that might include new hotels, visitors center, attractions and shops. CKx officials weren't commenting Friday on the impact a sale might have on redevelopment of company holdings connected to the iconic Presley home at 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Producer Simon Fuller, center, in 2008, with former American Idol contestants Jordin Sparks, left, and Chris Daughtry, right.
(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Nor would they comment on whether Sillerman played a part in Fuller's offer. "Not commenting and I honestly don't know," said Edmund Tagliaferri, spokesman for CKx. The Wall Street Journal said Fuller and Roger Jenkins, formerly with Barclays Capital, were planning a $600 million bid for CKx. Fuller sold 19 Entertainment, which owns "Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," to CKx in 2005. Fuller resigned as CEO in January. Tagliaferri said company officials would say no more than what was in a prepared statement Friday.
"CKx Inc. confirmed that it received a proposal today from a group of investors led by Simon Fuller to acquire CKx. ... CKx cautioned, however, that there can be no assurance that it will enter into any agreement with respect to any transaction, or as to the timing or terms thereof, including price." Collins said the city budget for 2010-2011 contains $1.8 million for design of street-related improvements from Interstate 240 to Shelby Drive. The state has committed $46 million to construct the improvements over two years, he said.
"This is what we have to remind ourselves: The development down Elvis Presley Boulevard has nothing to do with Graceland. Our development is going to take place regardless of whether Sillerman, CKx or whoever comes in. "On any given day, Elvis Presley Boulevard can look like Germantown Parkway. It needs to be redeveloped for commerce, the aerotropolis, Smith & Nephew, Medtronic and FedEx," Collins said.
Sillerman resigns as Chairman and CEO of CKx!!!: CKx, Inc. (Nasdaq: CKXE) announced today that Robert F.X. Sillerman has resigned as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and from the Company's board, effective immediately. Mr. Sillerman cited as the reason for his resignation a desire to pursue other interests, including the possible acquisition of CKx as well as a desire to allow the Board to evaluate its strategic options should he pursue such an acquisition. Mr. Sillerman founded the Company and has served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company since its inception in 2005. Mr. Sillerman will continue as a consultant to the Company. Mr. Sillerman is also the Company's largest shareholder.
The board of directors of the company announced that director Edward Bleier was appointed as chairman of the board and that Michael G. Ferrel, a former director and president of the company, will serve as acting chief executive officer.
"The board would like to thank Bob for his many contributions to CKx and for his leadership over the past five years and his unparalleled commitment to the company," said CKx chairman Edward Bleier. "Bob has a long track record of building several successful enterprises and providing billions of dollars in return to investors. We're thrilled that Bob will continue to assist CKx as a consultant."
Michael G. Ferrel, acting chief executive officer of CKx stated, "CKx has an excellent set of core assets that continue to be terrific performers for the company. I look forward to working with the board and management team to drive growth and to capitalize on the many opportunities ahead."
The company also stated that it presently intends to release its first quarter earnings on Monday, May 10, and plans to host an investor call following the release.
Edward Bleier has served on the CKx board of directors since 2005. Mr. Bleier is a director of RealNetworks, Inc., a leading Internet creator of digital media services and software. For 34 years, until his retirement as Senior Advisor in December 2003, Mr. Bleier was an executive of Warner Bros., Inc. From 1986 through 2000, he was President of the division responsible for broadcast and cable networks, pay-television and video-on-demand. He also previously served on Warner Communications' strategy committee, as President of Warner Bros. Animation, and overseeing the broadcast of certain sports properties. In May 2005, Mr. Bleier was appointed to the Board of Directors of Blockbuster, Inc. Mr. Bleier is currently a trustee of The Charles A. Dana Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of Drakontas, Inc. and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Michael G. Ferrel served as President, director and Member of the Office of the Chairman of CKX from May 2005 through November 2008. From August 2000 through May 2005, Mr. Ferrel served as President and Chief Executive Officer of FXM, Inc., a private investment firm. Mr. Ferrel served as President, Chief Executive Officer, Member of the Office of the Chairman and a director of SFX Entertainment, the largest owner and operator of venues for live entertainment in the United States (now a subsidiary of Live Nation) from December 1997 through August 2000. (News, Source: Brian Quinn/PR Newswire, 7 May 2010)
Sillerman's plans for Graceland Overhaul: Prior to the above news, this story was circulating....
The first indication of changes to come along Elvis Presley Boulevard between Brooks Road and Shelby Drive will be surveyors working in the area as it begins the annual tourism buildup to August, when Elvis fans commemorate the icon’s death.
The planning that is just beginning will eventually complement a new plan for an overhaul of Graceland by CKX, the company that owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.CKX CEO Bob Sillerman has proposed leaving Graceland as it is, but relocating the plaza where visitors board buses from the west side of the street to the same side as Graceland. The current plaza area would be developed as an entertainment district with restaurants, hotels and other attractions.Sillerman proposed a general outline of his plans for
Graceland in 2007. But CKX has indicated since then in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that those plans could change at least in their timing because of the economy.Sillerman has met with city officials and insisted he remains committed to transforming the area.
Based on that, the Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration has come up with $250,000 to begin planning for the improvements to Elvis Presley Boulevard. Wharton wants to have city commitments ready by July 1.
“We’re trying to get a running start on this,” city engineer Wain Gaskins told a crowd of more than 200 people last month at the WhitehavenCommunity Center.
“We are not very far into the process.”The surveyors will take the city’s planning a step further. Gaskins said consultants will begin this month talking with business owners along the corridor about possibly moving utilities. Underground power lines are one possibility to eliminate power lines and poles. The Rev. Lester Baskin of Middle Baptist Church was among those listening intently in the community center gymnasium and looking over renderings that Gaskins said are just ideas and not necessarily what the final plan will look like. Baskin said he favors coordinated commercial development along the boulevard.
“I have been in this area for about 40 years and I would like to see it become more and more,” he said. “I know that whoever comes to Memphis, you have to come to Whitehaven because the airport is in Whitehaven. FedEx is Whitehaven. UPS is Whitehaven. There are so many other places.”
Elvis Presley Boulevard is also part of a highway with state and federal designations. Because of that, the city hopes to draw $2 million in state and federal funding toward the public project. No city funding is available for construction because there is no plan. The first phase would be the boulevard’s southern end from Shelby Drive to Craft Road. Phase two is from Craft to Winchester Road. And the third phase is from Winchester to Brooks Road. Gaskins said the Interstate 55 interchange, north of Brooks, needs an overhaul but is a “separate project” the city will tackle at some later date. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is doing an interchange modification study, he added.
“It’s too much to handle in one bite,” Gaskins said of including the interchange in the boulevard project. (News, Source: Elvis News/Elvis Unlimited, 6 May 2010)
Buyer for CKX/EPE revealed: It's been kept completely secret -- until now. But I've learned that savvy media investor and entertainment programmer Allen Shapiro is the wizard behind the curtain of this One Equity Partners deal-in-the-making to purchase CKX. Sources tell me that the many weeks of day and night meetings to hammer out a deal have reached a crucial stage. But Shapiro's name hasn't yet been linked, and neither The New York Times nor Wall Street Journal even mentioned him in recent stories about the advanced deal talks. My info is that he's been involved for a long time. Of course, the last time Shapiro partnered with One Equity Partners, the global private equity investment arm of JPMorgan Chase, it was for their purchase of 49% of Lionsgate's TV Guide Channel and TVGuide.com.
The secrecy surrounding Shapiro's involvement in CKX may have to do with that TV Guide deal. He was initially buying TV Guide until Lionsgate swooped in at the last minute. Ultimately, Shapiro got a sizeable chunk of it almost a year ago. "But the fact is it's in no one's interest not to keep this new transaction secret," a source tells me.
As to why Shapiro is interested in CKX, my sources say it's primarily because of the company's high-profile American Idol and Elvis Presley and most of Muhammad Ali assets. Despite some beliefs that American Idol may suffer after judge Simon Cowell exits, and especially when his hit UK show X Factor starts competing in the U.S. market, I hear that Shapiro is convinced that Idol will continue strong through at least the 5 years left on its U.S. contract. "His opinion is that Idol is here to stay. It has 20 million viewers. Even its viewership goes down to 10 million viewers, it's still a huge hit," an insider tells me. Plus, Shapiro is becoming a heavy in the U.S. television syndication market through his recent TV Guide Channel deals for Ugly Betty, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Weeds. Surely, American Idol will find its way there was well. (My information is that TV Guide Channel's 51% owner Lionsgate is not involved at all in the Shapiro-One Equity partners-CKX planned deal.)
Shapiro is always on the prowl for well-known brands that are poorly managed, and then getting in and out of deals once he's taken the undervalued assets and made them worth more. For instance, he facilitated the leveraged buyout of dickclark productions (dcp) and became CEO in 2004 before selling it in 2007. While at dcp, Shapiro served as Executive Producer of So You Think You Can Dance, The Golden Globes, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, and New Years Rockin’ Eve. As president of Mosaic Media Group, he expanded Mosaic from an entertainment service business into an asset management company by investing in and controlling strategic media assets.
He arranged Mosaic’s acquisition of Hamstein Music (ZZ Top) and the Daksel & Seldak (Aerosmith) catalog to form Mosaic Music Publishing which he then sold in 2005. Prior to joining Mosaic, Shapiro served as President / CEO of The IndieProd Company, where he arranged the sale of the Company to Carolco Pictures.
As for the deal for CKX, it's already been reported recently that CKX chairman/CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman values the company at $558M, or roughly $6 a share. The share price climbed sharply after the WSJ broke the news of the negtoations with One Equity partners back in March. But that's way down from 2007's valuation of $1.3B. (Sale of EPE, Source: Deadline Hollywood, 6 May 2010)
Company seeks bankruptcy after Elvis Presley resort plans fizzle: Elvis related company files for bankruptcy; A company with strategic land holdings on the Las Vegas Strip filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Wednesday after its plans for an Elvis Presley-themed resort fell through.
The filing was made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas by FX Luxury Las Vegas I LLC, which is part of New York-based FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. The prepackaged bankruptcy calls for the land to be auctioned and says that if the auction doesn't yield an acceptable price, insider investors have agreed to buy it out of bankruptcy at a discount to the debt owed. The investors include American Idol TV show owner Robert F.X. Sillerman, chairman and chief executive of FX Real Estate and Entertainment; Paul Kanavos, president of FX Real Estate and Entertainment; and Las Vegas real estate investor Brett Torino.
FX Luxury listed assets of $139.6 million against liabilities of $492.6 million. Key creditors are the New York branch of Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg, owed $268 million; and NexBank of New York, owed $220.8 million.
The company owns 17.72 acres of land at the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue that are occupied by numerous small businesses and a 125-room Travelodge motel. Tenants on the land include the Hawaiian Marketplace with multiple tenants, Smith & Wollensky, McDonald’s, Fatburger, Walgreens and Sunglass Hut. The property is across the Strip from MGM Mirage's CityCenter development, where another Sillerman company receives royalties from the Viva Elvis production at the Aria hotel-casino thanks to Sillerman's control of Elvis Presley trademarks.
In court papers, FX said a February appraisal found the property's liquidation value in a forced foreclosure scenario would be about $137.7 million. FX said in its filing that it plans to auction the land as part of the bankruptcy process, but if there is a lack of qualified bidders, the investors have agreed to acquire the property for about $260 million including $15 million in cash and a new mortgage of about $245 million. The property produced revenue of $19.5 million in 2008, $17.3 million in 2009 and $3.6 million during the first quarter of this year, FX said in its filing.
In explaining the bankruptcy, FX Luxury President Mitchell Nelson said in an affidavit: "The current global financial crisis has had a particularly grave impact on the Las Vegas real estate market, including a substantial reduction in the number of visitors and per visitor spending, the abandonment of, and/or loan defaults related to, several major new hotel and casino development projects as well as publicly expressed concerns regarding the financial viability of several of the largest hotel and casino operators in the Las Vegas market."
"The current economic climate has also adversely affected the properties’ commercial leasing activities and, as a result, debtor has failed to maintain its previously high tenant occupancy rates amid these market conditions. In addition, market forecasts indicate Las Vegas may experience a prolonged decline in the development of new hotels and other entertainment venues, which could adversely affect any potential redevelopment of the properties for the foreseeable future," Nelson said in his statement. (News, Source: Steve Green, LasVegasSun.com, 23 April 2010)
Sillerman committed to Graceland area redevelopment: Graceland's corporate owner came to Memphis on Wednesday bearing assurances that he's committed to a massive redevelopment of the area surrounding Elvis Presley's iconic home. Emerging from a City Hall meeting with City Council, Greater Memphis Chamber and Graceland officials, Robert F.X. Sillerman, chairman and CEO of CKx Inc., had some advice for Memphians:
"They should get out of their chairs and go to Graceland five or six times now and five or six times again during the year so they can say they remember it before we turned it into the spectacular that it is going to be."
Sillerman, whose entertainment company added Graceland to its portfolio in 2004, and his legal team met with council chairman Harold Collins, chamber president John Moore and Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO Jack Soden.
Collins said discussion included the status of plans to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard and importance of a top-quality redevelopment for residents of long-established Whitehaven neighborhoods that border the site. Public improvements and the creation of a tourist-development zone are among incentives that city government has put on the table.
"There was some discussion about timetables, but there was nothing definite except for Mr. Sillerman making a commitment that they were willing to do the development," Collins said. "This is a project that's going to be a massive undertaking. It's important that before it's unveiled, the community gets to share in the presentation of the project," Collins added. "It's important that Mr. Sillerman understands this is a high level of people he's going to be talking to when he unveils his plan."
City engineers have scheduled a meeting to present preliminary information about the road project and get residents' input from 6 to 8 p.m. April 26 at Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland. The revamp of Whitehaven's main street will start at the Brooks Road intersection and extend perhaps as far south as Shelby Drive, with state of Tennessee approval necessary since it's also U.S. 51. Collins said Sillerman didn't give details of the development master plan, which CKx said in its annual report last month was being reconfigured after original designs were discarded.
"He did not talk specifics of what the design would be or what it would look like, and I did not press him on that," Collins said.
Chamber officials wouldn't comment, citing confidentiality of pending development matters.
CKx confirmed sale rumors last month after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company might be sold to a private-equity division of JP Morgan Chase.
CKx spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Wednesday that there was nothing new on the potential sale. (News, Source: Brian Quinn, 16 April 2010)
Sale of EPE Update (1 April 2010):
"CKx Inc., the company that controls Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland, says it is in discussions regarding a sale of the company.
In a statement released early this week, CKx said it would not elaborate on the terms of the “possible transaction.”
CKx owns and develops entertainment content, and its properties include the rights to the image and likeness of Elvis Presley, Graceland operations, and the rights to the name, image and likeness of Muhammad Ali , and the American Idol series in the U.S.
The company's statement followed a report Friday by the Wall Street Journal, which said the company was close to selling itself to the private equity firm, One Equity Partners, which offered $6 a share. CNBC also reported this morning that the company is being acquired by one of its equity partners.
Graceland is still a moneymaker and tourist magnet, but the iconic home's attendance and revenues were virtually flat last year. The Elvis Presley home and related facilities turned an operating profit of nearly $4.9 million, up about 21 percent from 2008, corporate owners said in an annual report filed Tuesday.
But from all indications, 2009 was pretty much a holding pattern as owners worked through a much-ballyhooed redevelopment plan. Attendance was up 1.2 percent from recession-battered levels in 2008, while revenues were down 1.6 percent.
Referring to a $250 million plan that could include new hotels, visitors center, attractions and shops, the corporation, CKx Inc., "remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties," the report said.
CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman, who paid $100 million for an 85 percent stake in the Presley estate in 2004, unveiled ambitious plans in 2007. Other CKx holdings include TV shows "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," and attractions associated with Muhammad Ali.
Graceland redevelopment planning took a hit last March when the company ended an agreement with a spinoff corporation, FX Real Estate & Entertainment, that was to have developed hotels here and in Las Vegas.
Preliminary design work was scrapped "due to current economic conditions and a lack of certainty as to exact scope, cost, financing plan and timing of this project," the report added.
Company spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Tuesday, "As Mr. Sillerman has previously indicated, we were working on coming up with a new and exciting design. We continue to move full steam ahead on that." Memphis government and tourism officials said they believe the project is on track.
"I'm confident it is going to happen," Mayor A C Wharton said. "Mr. Sillerman has assured us of his commitment. We are in the final stages of the planning process. It's a real game-changer. It will be one of the most significant developments we've seen in a long time."
City Council chairman Harold Collins said, "As far as being on schedule, I'm not sure they ever said they had a schedule. They have brought in their design people to look at the area. They have not fully decided when they are going to release that or get the design people's finished product."
Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane said, "What I'm hearing is they're still very committed to the Memphis project. A delay, if there was one, was because of the economy and other things they were working on in Vegas."
Other attractions claim higher attendance, but Kane said nothing equals the Presley home for out-of-region visitors. "It's the one sure-fire amenity that Memphis obviously is recognized and famous for all over the world," he said. The redevelopment "will enhance not only the visitor's experience to Graceland, but it will probably be a vehicle that will increase the number of visitors to Graceland," he added.
Graceland visitor numbers:
2005: 551,292 EIN Comments: Since we published news of the possible sale of EPE by Robert Sillerman's CKX organisation, EIN has received numerous enquiries as to what the sale means for the running of EPE and Graceland. A few comments:
Lisa Marie continues to own Graceland (the home)
Business sales are not uncommon. CKX has owned EPE for 8 years which is a reasonable time
As we stated in 2002 with an upfront purchase price of US$100m and a likely net return of between $5m and $10m, the sale/purchase represents a long term investment
The redevelopment of the area around Graceland must now be questionable until the strategic business direction of a (potential) new owner is known.
Major change in the short term is unlikely as the current business model returns a healthy profi
It has been suggested a prime driver of the sale is a desire to move CKx from a public to a private company
One Equity Partners wants Elvis!: A company that owns an 85 percent share in revenues generated by the likeness, image and name of Elvis Presley is in talks for a potential buyout by a division of JP Morgan Chase.
The company, called CKX, is reportedly considering an offer from One Equity Partners - at an estimated $500 million - that would also include the rights to American Idol and 80 percent of the likeness, image and name associated with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. (RTT News)
EPE for sale again?: The company that owns the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley confirmed Monday that it is in talks over a possible sale.
CKX Inc. released a vague statement that admitted sale discussions are under way but was noncommittal over a timeline, price, terms or buyer.
One Equity Partners is the buyer, according to a Wall Street Journal report released Friday. CKX (NASDAQ: CKXE) shareholders would be paid about $6 per share, according to WSJ.
The New York-based entertainment company also owns the rights to the name, image and likeness of Muhammed Ali and the proprietary rights to the American Idol television franchise.
Attendance at Elvis’ Memphis home was also up in 2009. 542,728 people went to Graceland in 2009, a 1.2 percent increase compared to 536,196 in 2008. (News, Source: Memphis Business Journal, 30 March 2010)
........Pre 2010 Sale........
Graceland Redevelopment Remains A Priority: Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. plans to roll out his first budget proposal next week to the Memphis City Council.
When he does, the mayor will draw on themes he has emphasized since taking office in October.
One of those is the area around Graceland. Wharton has repeatedly said redeveloping it is one of his administration’s top economic development priorities. The statement affirms an ambitious plan to promote the Elvis brand worldwide by Robert Sillerman of CKX Inc., the media company that owns 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Since a 2005 unveiling of a $250 million blockbuster remake of the late entertainer’s Memphis home and its surroundings, Sillerman and CKX have suffered like other businesses in the worst national recession since the Great Depression.
The recession has forced Sillerman to scale back plans outside Memphis and rewrite the Memphis plans with more cautious language.
In CKX’s annual report, filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission this week, Sillerman and the company again talked of its goals for Memphis.
“The company remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties,” the report reads.
Before the last line in the annual report about CKX’s commitment to the Memphis part of its plan for the Elvis brand, CKX executives also reported, “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.”
Sillerman has met privately with city leaders about the project. He also appeared via a video recording at a 2008 Elvis fan club gathering in
Memphis. Earlier in 2009, CKX took a $900,000 write-off on the preliminary design work for the Graceland remake. The write-off followed the failure in March 2009 by FXRE, the real estate arm of CKX, to make an annual guaranteed minimum royalty payment to EPE.
The issue was settled with a termination of the licensing agreement with EPE to develop one or more hotels at
Graceland. The hotels could still be developed through a third party. CKX still operates the Heartbreak Hotel across the street from the mansion. In January, Wharton met with Sillerman in New York. Wharton said Sillerman told him CKX is more than committed to a revitalization of the Graceland area.
“You won’t recognize Elvis Presley Boulevard in a few years,” Wharton said earlier this year. “You won’t recognize that campus.”
Wharton also said Sillerman has groused about any doubts the SEC filings have created about his commitment to the Memphis development. (News, Source: Memphis Daily News, 20 March 2010)
"The King" Makes a Triumphant Return to Las Vegas in the World Premiere of Viva Elvis: The tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley by Cirque du Soleil has opened at ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter.
With Priscilla Presley in attendance a celebrity crowd celebrated the world premiere of Viva ELVIS, the newest resident show by Cirque du Soleil, at ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas, on Friday night.
The show, a harmonious fusion of dance, acrobatics and live music, is a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley. It is a partnership between Cirque du Soleil and Elvis Presley Enterprises LLC, a CKX, Inc. company.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and CEO of CKX, Inc., said he was thrilled with the premiere. "When we first considered the idea of a production to capture the true essence of Elvis, we knew it had to be a show conceived and performed by the creative geniuses of Cirque du Soleil," Mr. Sillerman said. "Given that we were working with Cirque du Soleil, which has such an extraordinary track record, and an icon of the
magnitude of Elvis, I was concerned that I had set my expectations too high. But from what I saw Friday and from the reactions of those who attended the premiere, including the critics, I am amazed to say that my hopes for the show have been exceeded."
Mr. Sillerman continued, "As the reviews have said, Viva ELVIS is a show the devoted Elvis fan will love, but it reaches beyond that. It will be thoroughly enjoyed by the casual Elvis fan, by the fans of music from Elvis's era and by anyone who ever listened to rock and roll. It is also a show that will be loved by fans of Cirque du Soleil, as it takes their talents to an entire new level." Go here for more Viva ELVIS Opening night photos. (News, Source;BrianQuinn, Feb 2010)
Lenders Seize Sillerman Resort
By KRIS HUDSON/Matthew Craig for The Wall Street Journal
Robert Sillerman's Temenos Resort, in a stalled state of construction, on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. Lenders holding the $180 million mortgage on U.S. entertainment mogul Robert Sillerman's luxury resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla have taken over the half-built project and appointed a receiver to manage it.
Construction of Mr. Sillerman's Temenos resort, which was to include a 32-room hotel and 78 for-sale villas, was suspended in 2008 when the project ran out of financing amid cost overruns. The project's developer, Flag Luxury Properties LLC, has since searched unsuccessfully for lenders or buyers willing to contribute an additional $125 million to complete the resort.
Now, the receiver hired late Monday by Credit Suisse Group AG, which is the agent representing dozens of investors holding the mortgage, will handle finding a buyer with the financial clout to complete Temenos.
From the Archive Luxury Lost in Anguilla: "The efforts will continue to find new funding and probably new owners for the project," said the receiver, William Tacon, a managing partner in the British Virgin Islands office of restructuring company Zolfo Cooper Ltd. "All options are open to do that."
Mr. Sillerman began planning the resort and its 18-hole golf course in 2002. By the time construction was halted in 2008, he had sunk $180 million of his own money into the project in addition to the $180 million mortgage. His company, CKx Inc., owns the "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance?" television shows. He declined to comment for this article, though he has previously said he doesn't expect to recoup his money from Temenos.
Meanwhile, buyers who have paid deposits of up to 40% of the price of their multimillion-dollar villas at Temenos still don't know when those vacation homes will be completed. Among the resort's high- profile buyers are "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown and Idol creator Simon Fuller.
Mr. Sillerman's resort is one of several Caribbean resorts halted in construction due to financial woes. Others include a Ritz-Carlton in St. Lucia, a Ritz-Carlton in the Turks and Caicos Islands and a Westin in the Dominican Republic. In addition to Temenos, Mr. Tacon is the receiver overseeing a Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group resort stalled in construction in the Turks and Caicos.
(3 Feb 2010)
Graceland area to be redeveloped: The owners of Graceland are getting serious about plans for a redevelopment project that would rejuvenate the popular Heartbreak Hotel and spruce up 100 acres surrounding Elvis Presley's home.
Robert Sillerman, whose company CKX Inc. bought controlling interest of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2004, says he is returning to Memphis next month to plan the tourist mecca's future.
Sillerman first talked about a $250 million redevelopment of the area several years ago. At the time, work was to include demolition of the old visitors center and Heartbreak Hotel so they could be replaced with larger, better facilities and hotels with convention halls and improved public spaces. Sillerman tells The Commercial-Appeal that next month's event will be a two-day intensive planning session. (Sale of EPE, Source: WHNT, Dec 28)
EPE needs a complete makeover!: ALLC posted this message on FECC:
As a modern day fan I can't help but wonder what idiots they have running the biggest most prolific estate in pop culture. It seems their brain cells are lacking because when they do something big they actually end up doing it small and not newsworthy or profitable. I just saw a cool replica of Elvis' pink cadillac in a new diecast series called "Elvis Motor Classics".
But instead of doing a whole set of the famous cars at Graceland they do a small irrelevant set of only two. WTF? Do they not realise what they're missing out on in both financially and popularity and what a lost opportunity this is?
Opposite: Elvis's uncle Travis Smith with fans at the Graceland gates in 1957
They could have done an entire set based around his private collection and vehicles from his famous movies and even a replica of the two private jets, the Lisa Marie and the other smaller plane. Instead they go the cheapest route.
Diecast models are BIG business for all ages. They could have sold them in stores across
America and kids and non fans alike would have bought them mainly because of their detail and uniqueness. Older men would have wanted them who collect diecast models. I collect them and I know for a fact that I would have bought had they done it properly. EPE could have made a freaking killing off of them and made as much in revenue than what they do on ticket sales to Graceland. What morons!!
Sorry for venting but to me, this is a travesty. It's not the first time those idiots have missed out on a very good and positive opportunity either. It's a common thing with them. They're website isn't even up to modern day standards even. Like them, it's stuck in the past. Most sites today have hi-tech interactive activities for kids and adults to learn and discover things and be educated. Not the case with EPE. They care mroe about selling fake a$$ jumpsuits and wigs with goofy looking glasses on their site.
Don't even get me started on their outdated rundown 20th century looking facilities. They keep talking about what they plan to do. Well, if you Google EPE and expansion you will find articles dating back to 1992 about wanting to expand and build a new museum. 18 years later no expansion and no new museum. I was disappointed at how their facilities lacked 21th century technology and nothing to do once you've seen the mansion and the cars and planes. No nightlife, no entertainment, no restuarant even. Nothing! For Graceland to be such a big attraction it sure doesn't offer half as much as it should.
Sillerman better take the wheel soon and clean house at EPE and get rid of those out of touch imcompetent floons that run the estate and replace them with young smart vibrant minds that actually know it's about to be 2010 not 1910 before it's too late or he'll lose out more than the fans will.
Graceland isn't the only thing that needs a major overhaul, so does the entire staff at EPE, from CEO to marketers to pulbic speakers.
Brian Quinn replies:
ALLC,I understand your frustration with EPE and whilst I agree mainly with your assumptions there are are some good people there. Can I suggest that if you have any marketing ideas you address them to Scott Williams. His e-mail address is:
I have found him to be very helpful and always get a reply to my e-mails which is more than can be said from 99% of the staff there. (Dec 2009)
Sillerman stock update - company Is not undertaking sale of stock at this time: Despite the earlier report (see next news item), Robert Sillerman is not shedding shares in his CKX company:
CKX, Inc. issued a statement this morning correcting the factual errors in an article that ran on the Dow Jones Newswires late in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 14.
The Company clarified that it is not selling any shares of common stock to the public at this time. CKX noted that Robert F.X. Sillerman, the Company`s Chairman and CEO, recently sold 7.85 million of his personally owned shares to a well-known investment fund at a price of $6.75 per share.
In order to allow the purchaser to obtain shares that are freely tradable, the Company agreed to register the shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The registration statement that was filed on Wednesday, and on which the inaccurate Dow Jones Newswires report was apparently based, was merely registering the shares purchased from Mr. Sillerman. It did not indicate a sale by the Company of any shares of stock.
Further, the $6.26 per share price quoted in the Dow Jones report has no bearing on any sale price of CKX's stock. It has nothing to do with the price at which Mr. Sillerman sold the stock, which was $6.75 per share. (Source: AP, 19 Oct 2009)
Will EPE and Graceland change hands?: Chairman & CEO, 10% Owner of CKX Inc. (CKXE) Robert F X Sillerman sells 7,850,000 shares of CKXE on 10/09/2009 at an average price of $6.75 a share. CKX Inc. is engaged in the ownership development and commercial utilization of entertainment content. CKX Inc. recently acquired 19 Entertainment Limited the United Kingdom-based company best known for creating the American Idol television program and a controlling interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises which owns and/or controls the commercial utilization of the name image and likeness of Elvis Presley. Ckx Inc. has a market cap of $561.89 million; its shares were traded at around $6.6 with a P/E ratio of 46.46 and P/S ratio of 1.95.
Recent Trades of CKX Inc. by Directors and Officers:
Sell: See Footnote 2 Lisa Marie Presley sold 7,443 shares of CKXE stock on 10/20/2009 at the average price of $4.77; the price of the stock has increased by 38.36% since.
Sell: See Footnote 2 Lisa Marie Presley sold 30,120 more shares of CKXE stock on 09/14/2009 at the average price of $6.06; the price of the stock has increased by 8.91% since.
Sell: See Footnote 2 Lisa Marie Presley sold 64,793 more shares of CKXE stock on 09/11/2009 at the average price of $6.07; the price of the stock has increased by 8.73% since.
Sell: See Footnote 2 Lisa Marie Presley sold 5,087 more shares of CKXE stock on 08/24/2009 at the average price of $7.06; the price of the stock has decreased by 6.52% since.
Sell: 10% Owner William R Huff sold 3,401 shares of CKXE stock on 08/13/2009 at the average price of $7.51; the price of the stock has decreased by 12.12% since. (Source: Elvis Unlimited, 18 Oct 2009)
Heartbreak Hotels burned as Sillerman exits real estate: Bob Sillerman, the billionaire entertainment mogul who owns the rights to Elvis Presley's Graceland, Muhammad Ali and a big share of Simon Fuller's hit TV show "American Idol," is getting out of the real-estate business after losing hundreds of millions of dollars on just two failed projects.
"I think I have shown conclusively that I am not knowledgeable enough about the real-estate business," Sillerman told The Post in an exclusive interview. "I think I should leave it to other people to pursue."
Sillerman's decision comes amid a flurry of lawsuits surrounding the construction of one of the two projects -- a luxury golf course and resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla.
The project has failed and is in default on loans and guarantees -- some of which are looked after by Credit Suisse.
"That project has stopped," Sillerman said.
Credit Suisse last week filed a lawsuit seeking repayment of more than $21 million in personal guarantees by Sillerman.
A second company -- Anguilla Equity partners -- filed a suit seeking more than $25 million in relation to that same failed project.
Sillerman said that he has spent so much of his fortune on the Anguilla project that he should not have to pay Credit Suisse much of the $21 million the bank demands.
"I was originally asked to invest somewhere around $15 million in the Anguilla project," Sillerman said. "But since then I have put in about $200 million more of my own money just to keep it going."
Sillerman said his decision to get into the real estate business was spurred by his love of Anguilla, where he keeps a home with his wife, the writer Laura Baudo.
"The government of Anguilla asked me to do something to help the island so I went in for the right reasons but at the wrong time," Sillerman said.
Sillerman's costs are and include more than $200,000 a month just to water the $12 million Greg Norman-designed championship golf course, court papers show. The golf course is complete but the hotel and villas are not. Without constant watering, golf courses in the Caribbean are doomed. Once the grass dies, they have to be reconstructed virtually from scratch. The fate of the golf course became a bone of contention in a series of e-mails between a Credit Suisse banker and Paul Kanavos, Sillerman's business partner in developing the project.
In the final e-mail on the subject, Kanavos wrote: "Bob Sillerman is unwilling to provide further money to preserve the golf course.
"Tragically it will now be lost and will need to be completely rebuilt."
Credit Suisse declined to comment about the lawsuit other than to say they are agents for a consortium of lenders that invested in the Anguilla project.
Lawyers representing Anguilla Equity partners declined to comment about the other lawsuit.
Sillerman's Anguilla woes come hard on the heels of the failure of a $475 million Elvis-themed Las Vegas hotel being planned by FX Real Estate, a publicly traded property company controlled by Sillerman, of which Kanavos is the CEO.
"The plans for the Elvis Presley Hotel and casino have been cancelled," Kanavos said. "Las Vegas is in a depression and I do not think there will be any need for additional hotel rooms in the city for at least the next five to seven years," Kanavos added.(James Dorman, www.nypost.com /EP Gold, 1 Aug 2009)
, there is one man arguably more powerful in the Elvis world. His power comes from having acquired the majority ownership in the rights to market the Elvis name, image and likeness from Lisa Marie Presley. That man is of course, Robert F.X. Sillerman.
And with Elvis merchandise and licensed ETA competitions generating more profits than sales of Elvis' music, Sillerman may currently be the most powerful man in the Elvis world!
At a time when his powerful company interests are under strain due to the global financial crisis, EIN thought it timely to go behind the scenes of the Sillerman empire, an empire which is vast and eclectic with an emphasis on the sports and entertainment industries. From Elvis and Muhammad Ali to Lassie and American Idol, with much in between.
In the series of news items and articles below you will find out a lot about who Robert Sillerman is, his business interests, his health issues and his current financial challenges.Read EIN's article
With Elvis-themed casino out, lenders want Strip property: Lenders are moving to seize control of a key piece of real estate on the Las Vegas Strip after plans fell through for an Elvis Presley-themed casino resort there.
Three first-lien lenders filed a lawsuit Friday in Clark County District Court against entities controlled by FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. of New York, which is in default on two loans for $475 million for the property southeast of the corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, across the Strip from the CityCenter complex.
The lenders say that even though foreclosure proceedings are under way and the banks have been collecting rent from small businesses on the site, FX continues to maintain possession or control of the land. The lenders' agent "believes that the fees and expenses which borrower and/or its related entities are currently charging the first lien lenders for managing the real property are excessive and disproportionate to those customarily paid in Clark County," charged the lawsuit.
The lenders are asking the court to appoint a receiver to take control of the land. It appears the lenders and investors will take huge losses on the property. The first lien lenders say they are owed $259 million on their $280 million loan, but FX has recently estimated the property is worth only about $219 million.
In the foreclosure, the second-lien holders -- believed to be a syndicate of 70 or more lenders -- may recover nothing on their $195 million loan against the property. And the rents being collected by the lenders are insufficient to satisfy interest due on the loan or to reduce the principal amount due, the lawsuit said. The value of the land has fallen as the recession has reduced valuations in the hotel and gaming industries and commercial real estate financing has dried up.
The banks suing the FX entities Friday were Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg, Deutsche Hypothekenbank and Munchener Hypothekenbank eG. FX officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In April, FX said it may file for bankruptcy protection following the collapse of its plans to build celebrity-themed properties in Las Vegas and other cities. The company in May reiterated it has no way of making payments to become current on the Las Vegas loans. As for legal action, including bankruptcy, it said it "cannot guarantee to what extent, if any, such actions may be viable or effective."
FX is controlled by Robert F.X. Sillerman, who also owns the wildly popular "American Idol" TV show. FX had been promoting plans to build properties with Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali themes and has been paying royalties to Elvis Presley Enterprises and Muhammad Ali Enterprises. Those licensing deals were canceled this year amid FX's financial troubles.
The Las Vegas property, once planned for an Elvis Presley resort, consists of six parcels totaling 17.72 acres that have in recent years been occupied by small retailers and restaurants, such as the Harley-Davidson Cafe and Smith & Wollensky, as well as a Travelodge hotel. Because of a write-down on the value of its Las Vegas holding, and the licensing fees paid to the Presley and Ali companies, FX said it lost $462 million on revenue of $6 million in 2008. (Sale of EPE, Source: Steve Green, Las Vegas Sun, 7 June 2009)
Graceland Hotel on hold: Robert Sillerman, the man behind the company that hold the rights to Elvis Presley appears to have some financial problems. The Vegas project is in default. Plans for a new hotel and convention center at Graceland, Elvis’s Tennessee home, are on hold. FX Real Estate fell to pennies a share in April from its February 2008 peak of $7.88 and was delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s wife from 1967 to 1973, says the economy, not Sillerman, is to blame. “I have a lot of confidence in Bob,” she says. “When the timing is right, I’m sure all this will come back on the boards.” (Source: Elvis News, 3 June 2009)
EPE continues to expand: Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. had another year of growth and expansion in its licensing division. In addition to Graceland and its related attractions in Memphis, EPE is involved in a worldwide licensing program, merchandising, music publishing, and television, film, video and Internet projects.
"This has been one of our best years in the Elvis licensing program. We continue to partner with new and exciting licensees as well as maintaining many long term relationships that result in Elvis merchandise in dozens of territories around the world," stated EPE vice president of world wide licensing Carol Butler.
Elvis was a pioneer in the licensing world from the first day he stepped on stage. In 2008, EPE signed numerous licensees and worked closely with them to maximize the business through public relations and marketing activities.
Now, with over 250 licensees worldwide, EPE works with companies in a wide variety of licensing categories, such as Cirque du Soliel, Mattel Inc., Bradford Exchange, Hallmark, Gibson Guitar, Elvis Harley, John Deere, American Greetings, Pez Candy and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
EPE's Licensing Division is charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the integrity of Elvis Presley, Graceland and other related properties. (Source: AP, 26 May 2009)
Sillerman company defaults on loan: Robert F.X. Sillerman, chief executive officer of CKX Inc. and owner of the “American Idol” brand, owes a $21.4 million on a loan, Credit Suisse Group AG said in a court filing in New York.
Credit Suisse’s CaymanIsland’s branch filed the request for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Credit Suisse was acting as the agent on behalf of the holders of the loan.
The bank, Switzerland’s second-largest, alleges that Sillerman has failed to pay the outstanding balance due under a credit agreement with Flag Luxury Properties LLC, in Anguilla, British West Indies, and that Sillerman has defaulted on a series of payments due since April 2008.
“Defendant is obligated to pay $21,400,000 to Credit Suisse,” the bank said in court papers filed May 21, adding later, “the demand on the defendant was refused.”
Subsequent payments that became due also remain unpaid, the bank said in court papers. Sillerman also has failed to make the required principal payments due since June 2008, the bank alleged. The outstanding principal due under the first-lien credit agreement is $137.2 million, Credit Suisse said in court papers.
‘Entertainment-Themed’ Projects - Flag Luxury is described in company releases as an “affiliate” of FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc., a company chaired by Sillerman and formed in 2007, “to engage in the development and ownership of entertainment-themed real estate projects.”
Flag announced a deal to operate what it described as an “exclusive ultra-luxury hotel and residences” in 2008 on the island of Anguilla, British West Indies. The property was named the Baccarat Hotel and Residences at Temenos, Anguilla.
CKX, based in New York, also owns the rights to the names and images of Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley, as well as Presley’s Graceland mansion.
Ed Tagliaferri, an outside spokesman for Sillerman, didn’t return a voicemail message left at his office seeking comment yesterday.
Duncan King, a Credit Suisse spokesman, declined to comment on the bank’s legal action. Rick Matthews, a spokesman for Flag, didn’t return a voicemail message seeking comment after regular business hours yesterday.
The case is Credit Suisse, Cayman Islands Branch v. Robert F.X. Sillerman, 601595/2009, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).
Graceland prepares for 4 new exhibits: January 8, 2009 was the date for the celebrations to begin with the 70th Anniversary of Graceland, a National Historic Landmark, and the Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration - which promises new surprises this year. Following the kick off of celebration for the 70th Anniversary, three major other exhibits will open this spring: Elvis in Hollywood, Elvis Lives: the King and Pop Culture and new exhibits in the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum.
The following highlights are some of the details on the four different exhibits for the 2009 calendar:
• Graceland’s 70th Anniversary Celebration/VIP Tour Exhibit – open January 2009: The colonial style mansion was built in 1939 by a prominent Memphis family that later sold the historic home and surrounding 13 acres to Elvis Presley in 1957. The 70th Anniversary exhibit, included as part of the VIP Tour package, features the original architectural drawings of Graceland, a signed check from Elvis for the down payment ($102,000) on the home, the deed to Graceland and a video presentation that includes memories from those who lived there, including the first family to call Graceland home.
• Elvis in Hollywood – slated for March 2009: With 31 films to his name and box office smashes such as Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock, this new exhibit focuses on Elvis’ years in Tinsel Town and his success on the big screen. The exhibit tells the story of how Elvis transitioned from singer to on screen star and how he took Hollywood by storm to become its highest paid actor. Also part of the exhibit will be memorabilia from his career on the silver screen including his wardrobe (from Viva Las Vegas, Charro and Jailhouse Rock), personal scripts (featuring his own handwritten notes), rare behind the scenes photos, personal copies of his own feature films, original movie and a variety of other Elvis movie memorabilia.
• Elvis Lives: The King and Pop Culture – slated for March 2009: This interactive exhibit showcases Elvis in action as he entertains crowds in a stunning video presentation. Visitors can also retrace Elvis’ impact on pop culture by taking a trip down an Elvis time line, test their knowledge at an Elvis trivia kiosk and explore Elvis’ music through listening stations that features classics from the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Also included is a display of Elvis collectibles from the 50s to some of today’s must have memorabilia.
• Elvis Presley Automobile Museum – slated for March 2009: This Graceland exhibit celebrates new additions with a special display featuring both of Elvis' Rolls Royce sedans and his 6-door Mercedes Benz limousine featured in the movie Elvis on Tour.
Lisa Marie lightens up on Idol:JUST DAYS BEFORE MORE than 30 million viewers tuned in to the season premiere of American Idol, Lisa Marie Presley tuned out of $420,000 in shares of the company that owns the rights to the program.
Lisa Marie Presley took a stake in CKX when she sold a majority stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises to the entertainment company in 2005, giving it ownership of her father's name and image. She retained a 15% stake in the estate and kept the title to Elvis' Graceland property in the deal. Presley also received 500,000 common shares and 1,491,818 shares of convertible preferred stock, which entitle her to a seat on the board of directors (currently filled by her mother, Priscilla Presley) and a $1.8 million annual dividend. The company has valued the convertible stock at $22.8 million. Presley's stock in CKX is held through the Promenade Trust, of which she is the sole beneficiary.
Presley hadn't sold any of the stock she received until this year. On Friday and Monday she sold 97,600 of her common shares for $422,438, or about $4.33 per share. A company spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CKX, formed in 2004, has rights deals and partnerships with such celebrities as Muhammad Ali and David and Victoria Beckham. It also owns a company that manages comedians such as Billy Crystal and Woody Allen. A partnership led by Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Sillerman attempted to buy the company and return it to private ownership, but the deal fell apart this year because of the "recent turmoil in the financial sector and the related tightening of the financing markets," according to a company statement from September.
CKX says it is "committed to preserving the integrity of the Elvis legacy and to judiciously selecting future commercial opportunities," but it has also pushed to expand the Elvis brand. It announced in 2006 that it plans to open an Elvis Presley-themed Cirque du Soleil show this November in partnership with the MGM Mirage (MGM). The company operates Elvis' Graceland property on a 90-year lease with the Promenade Trust under which they pay rent of $1 a month after prepaying $3 million. The company announced in its 2007 annual report that it plans to expand the Graceland property from 13.5 acres to 104 acres, adding a new visitors center and other attractions.
Despite the immense popularity of American Idol, CKX's stock has fallen precipitously since hitting a high of $30.65 in May 2005. The stock closed at $4.20 on Thursday. (American Idol is broadcast in the U.S. by Fox Broadcasting, which like Barron's is owned by News Corp.)(Source: Barrons.com, 15 Jan 09)
EPE Chief says Graceland development plans still have the green light: The chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises' parent company says the Elvis industry is thriving despite the bad U.S. economy. The late U.S. rock 'n' roll icon, who would have celebrated his 74th birthday Thursday, was No. 1 on the Forbes magazine list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2008.
"There is only one Elvis, and you don't have to do much to keep him front and center," Robert Sillerman, chief executive of CKX Inc. (NASDAQ:CKXE), told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Sillerman also told the newspaper that President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural committee has requested permission to use Presley's song "If I Can Dream" as part of an inaugural event.
"I am a big supporter of President Obama," Sillerman said. "If they want to use it, we absolutely will make it available to them. Forty years after Elvis' '68 special, we see that he's being thought of as part of a new beginning."
Although attendance at Graceland was down in 2008 compared to 2007, when fans flocked to Presley's former home to mark the 30th anniversary of his death, CKX said the numbers were on par with attendance from previous non-milestone years, suggesting Elvis is "recession-resistant."
Sillerman also said CKX is moving ahead with plans to improve and develop Graceland so it will be even more appealing to tourists.(Source: UPI, 8 Jan 2009)
Elvis Plans could be on way out the door: An investment group that had once envisioned building an Elvis-themed resort in Las Vegas on 18 acres across from CityCenter may be on the verge of losing the land. FX Real Estate and Entertainment said Monday it has defaulted on a $475 million loan from Credit Suisse and does not expect to be able to repay or refinance it by the time it matures on Tuesday, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.
"Unless the loan is repaid, refinanced or extended at maturity, the lenders may at any time exercise their remedies under the Amended and Restated Credit Agreements, which include foreclosing on the Las Vegas properties," the filing read.
A $14.9 million payment made July 6 already extended the maturity date six months.
The company received a waiver on Nov. 25 when falling land values pushed the property into noncompliance of its debt-to-loan value ratio covenants, but the company failed to make the $26 million compliance payment by Dec. 19.
The land, which stretches from the Harley-Davidson Café on the corner of Harmon Avenue to the Smith & Wollensky building just north of the MGM Grand, is currently generating revenues for FX mainly through rental income. The Hawaiian Marketplace, Travelodge and several shops also occupy the land.
The land was acquired through six separate transactions totaling $221.3 million, or $12.5 million per acre, between March 1998 and May 2005.
FX, however, wrote off $10.7 million in development costs in the third quarter after abandoning plans for the Elvis-themed resort in September due to the "dislocation and turbulence in the capital markets."
The group posted $482,000 in revenues in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 against operating costs of $16.8 million driving it to a $33.7 million loss.
FX has posted a $112.7 million loss the first nine months of the year.
The possible loss of the land comes after an agreement for FX to acquire an 85 percent interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises fell through.
In a Nov. 5 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, FX said the acquisition agreement was canceled when a go-private deal for CKX Inc., which licenses the rights to the singer, collapsed.
FX is a partnership between Robert F.X. Sillerman, whose publicly traded company CKX, Inc. owns the name and image of Elvis Presley and the operation of Graceland, hotel developer Paul Kanavos and residential and commercial developer Brett Torino.
Attempts to reach FX representatives in New York on Tuesday failed.
FX, which is publicly traded on the Nasdaq National Market, has had its stock price fall from an offering-day high of $10.02 per share Jan. 10 to 13 cents per share at Tuesday's close. (Source: Arnold M. Knightly, Las Vegas Review Journal, 31 Dec 2008)
Soden Says Graceland Expansion Plans Still Afoot:Graceland turns on the most famous Christmas lights in rock ‘n’ roll this evening in Whitehaven, and country music star Martina McBride will be in Graceland Plaza to throw the switch on the rows of blue lights. The year at Graceland ends with the release of a Christmas duets album that features McBride as well as other female crooners trading lyrics digitally with Elvis Presley.
But 2009 will begin with some uncertainty about broader plans for the worldwide business of Elvis including an expansion of Graceland into a tourist zone taking in Elvis Presley Boulevard from Brooks Road to Shelby Drive.
CKX Inc., the company that bought 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2007, announced the $250 million project, but there have been complications with the economic downturn.
CKX was in the process of going from a publicly traded company to a privately held company this year. CKX chairman and chief executive Robert F.X. Sillerman had hoped to complete the sale of CKX to 19X, a company also controlled by Sillerman, by the end of October. But two weeks ago, 19X Inc. announced in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it has ended its bid to buy CKX.
“19X cited the extraordinary national and global economic conditions that made it impossible to consummate the transaction,” read the SEC notice. The notice also said Sillerman would “continue to pursue an alternate transaction for the acquisition of the company.”
All but $500,000 of the $37.5 million termination fee will be paid in CKX stock owned by 19X. The remaining $500,000 will be paid in cash.
Question marks - EPE Chief Executive Officer Jack Soden was asked about the impact at a meeting this month of the Metro Memphis Attractions Association at Graceland’s Chrome Grille.
“Everything is not without a question mark,” Soden said, referring generally to national economic conditions. He said he couldn’t be more specific about the Whitehaven plan. “There’s an awful lot of behind-the-scenes work done,” Soden said. “It’s going forward. I’m not sure you could say it’s going forward at breakneck speed, right now. But it is definitely going forward.”
A Las Vegas casino to feature a Cirque du Soleil Elvis-themed show is under construction as the year’s end nears and will still open despite economic conditions, Soden said. Sillerman told the annual Elvis fan convention Downtown in a taped appearance in August that his attempt to spread the Elvis brand will not seek to change Graceland but to keep it as it was in 1977, the year Presley died. Soden confirmed that as well this week.
“Everything else needs to change,” he said, referring to plans that include using land beyond Graceland Plaza and north and south of Graceland that EPE has been buying up over an 18-year period. With nearly 25 years at the helm of EPE, Soden said he frequently hears proposals to “reinvent” the late entertainer. It’s a term he doesn’t care for.
“He just needs a reintroduction,” Soden told the group of 25 people. “You don’t need to change anything about Elvis. All you have to do is introduce him to new young eyes and ears and get out of the way. Let the introduction happen.”
Things to come - Like other attractions, Graceland’s attendance has leveled off at between 500,000 and 600,000 visitors a year. Soden’s goal is a million visitors a year and to break a “five-year cycle” of focusing on the anniversaries of Elvis’s death or birth. 2007 was the 30th anniversary of Presley’s death. The year before, Graceland produced a concert featuring Presley’s backing band from the 1970s performing live with a digital big-screen image of Presley singing the same songs. Soden estimated it cost about $700,000 to produce.
“It’s not the kind of things we can do every year. That’s why we’ve gotten into this rhythm,” Soden said. “One of these years we’re going to have to cut loose and produce a $500,000 show that we may not make money on. But it will get people out of their five-year rhythm.”
Another attempt will be more of a focus on anniversaries of career milestones. Next month will mark the 40th anniversary of Presley’s 1968 comeback special. In January and February, Soden said, there will be commemorations of the recording sessions at the old American Recording studio. The sessions at the now demolished studio at Chelsea Avenue and Danny Thomas Boulevard in North Memphis produced some of Presley’s biggest hits during the 1970s in about a week and a half of recording. August will mark the 40th anniversary of Presley’s landmark 1969 show opening the International Hotel in Las Vegas.
Original drawings of Graceland found - A new exhibit next year will be a first for Graceland in that Elvis Presley won’t be the sole focus of it. 2009 will mark the 70th anniversary of the construction of Graceland, which was built in 1939 as a house for Whitehaven’s Moore family. It replaced an older farm house on top of the hill of what was then a 500-acre farm in rural Shelby County.
The original plans and an early drawing of the house were found in a shed on the property years ago. The drawing had been hanging in Soden’s office until archivists discovered its value and began planning the exhibit. (Source: AP, 22 Nov 2008)
Privatisation of EPE parent company nixed: CKX Inc., which licenses the rights to images of Elvis Presley and other celebrities, said that a $1.33 billion plan to go private has fallen through because of "extraordinary" economic conditions.Formed in 2004, CKX has built a rights portfolio related to the images and creative output of public figures including Muhammad Ali and David and Victoria Beckham.As a result of its 2005 acquisition of London-based 19 Entertainment Ltd., CKX also owns the "American Idol" TV and music franchise and its international counterparts.
Under the now-scuttled plan, announced in June 2007, a group of managers led by Chairman and Chief Executive Robert F.X. Sillerman and 19 Entertainment CEO Simon Fuller would have paid $1.33 billion, or $13.75 a share, for CKX.The company on Monday cited "national and global economic conditions that made it impossible to consummate the transaction." CKX shares settled at $4.18 in 4 p.m. Nasdaq composite trading, down 26 cents, or 5.9%.The corporate vehicle created as the buyer in the transaction, 19X Inc., will be required to pay a $37.5 million termination fee, nearly all of it in CKX shares valued for the purpose at $11.08 apiece.
Mr. Sillerman is viewed in the entertainment industry as a shrewd entrepreneur. He is best known for reshaping the concert business in the 1990s, when he bought up numerous local and regional concert promoters.He sold the resulting conglomerate in 2000 to Clear Channel Communications Inc. for almost $3 billion. A 2005 public spinoff of the concert company, now known as Live Nation Inc., valued it at $871 million. Clear Channel ultimately declared a $2.4 billion loss on the deal.
In an interview last year, Mr. Sillerman said he wanted to take CKX private because certain celebrities were uncomfortable about disclosing personal financial details, which would be required if they entered a broad agreement with a public company. These people, whom Mr. Sillerman declined to name, would be more comfortable dealing with a closely held company, he said.
In a filing Monday with the the Securities and Exchange Commission, Messrs. Sillerman and Fuller said they intend to continue pursuing the acquisition using alternative financing options. (Sale of EPE Archives; Source: Ethan Smith, Wall Street Journal, 5 Nov 2008)
19X - CKX merger now unlikely: Robert F.X. Sillerman, on behalf of 19X, Inc., has notified the Board of Directors of CKX, Inc. (Nasdaq: CKXE) that in light of the recent turmoil in the financial sector and the related tightening of the financing markets, he no longer believes that 19X will be in position to consummate its pending acquisition of CKX at the current price of $12.00 per share. The Company added that, given the time needed to complete the proxy process and obtain stockholder approval, a closing by the current October 31st deadline is no longer possible.
Mr. Sillerman further informed the Company that despite the difficult economic climate, he intends to continue to pursue a transaction and intends to approach the Board with an alternate acquisition proposal, either through purchase, merger, tender offer or other acquisition structures, by no later than the October 31st transaction deadline.
Pursuant to the terms of the existing merger agreement, 19X has until October 31, 2008, to complete the transaction. In light of the information provided by Mr. Sillerman and the impending October 31 deadline, the Board of Directors of the Company is reviewing CKX's alternatives and will consider any proposal presented to it, including a revised proposal by Mr. Sillerman.
While the current merger transaction has been pending, management of the Company has continued to concentrate on the on-going business operations of the Company, as evidenced by the strong results posted for the six months ended June 30, 2008. As reported in its recently filed Quarterly Report, the Company has significant cash on hand and substantial additional available borrowing capacity for its short term and long term operations.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, 19X agreed to acquire CKX at a price of $12.00 per share in cash. 19X, Inc. is a private company owned and controlled by Robert F.X. Sillerman, the Chairman and CEO of CKX, and Simon R. Fuller, a director of CKX and the CEO of 19 Entertainment Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CKX. ( Source: PR Newswire, Sep 2008)
Las Vegas project in trouble: New York billionaire Robert FX Sillerman is backing away from an ambitious Elvis-themed resort across the $9-plus billion City Center. Sillerman, in a Security Exchange Commission filing on Monday,indicated it is "unlikely" that his orginal Las Vegas plan will proceed.
"As a result of the dislocation and turbulence in the capital markets," the filing said,"the Company is reviewing its originally proposed program for the redevelopment of its Las Vegas properties.
"While no definitive determination has been made by the Company, it is unlikely that the program originally proposed will be undertaken. The Company intends to continue the propertiesʼ commercial leasing activities pending any such definitive determination."
When he announced his Elvis plans for Las Vegas 2 1/2 years ago, Sillerman indicated it would involve an interactive museum and Elvis theme show on the site, which stretches from the Harley-Davidson Cafe to Smith & Wollensky steak house along Las Vegas Boulevard.
Sillerman paid $100 million to the Presley family in 2005 for control of Elvis' name and likeness, but not his music.
There have been hints that Sillerman also planned an Elvis hotel on The Strip, but that may be a case of "Heartbreak Hotel."
The City Center will feature a Cirque du Soleil Elvis show. ( Source: AP, Sep 2008)
Whitehaven residents advised of EPE plans: City councilman Harold Collins told a packed house at Middle Baptist Church in Whitehaven on Monday night that investors plan to spend $250 million-$500 million on an overhaul of Graceland and its surrounding area. While Collins promised nearby residents that plans do not call for "roller coasters and Ferris wheels up and down Elvis Presley Boulevard," he said there will be extensive renovations in the Craft Road area.
Collins said Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. understands that its plans must be reviewed by town-hall meetings. With fellow council members Janis Fullilove, Edmund Ford Jr. and Myron Lowery also on hand, Collins shared what little is known about plans by EPE and its parent company, CKX Inc., for Graceland expansion.
EPE has bought $13 million worth of adjacent land already, including the soon-to-be-demolished Craft Manor apartments, and the plan calls for all Graceland-related operations to be moved to the east side of Elvis Presley Boulevard, with shops and restaurants on the west side.
EPE, Collins said, has proposed installing a tree line to divide residential and commercial properties.(Source: Commercial Appeal /Elvis News, 20 Aug 2008)
Robert F.X. Sillerman interview: Robert F.X. Sillerman, the president and chief executive officer of the company that owns Elvis Presley Enterprises, commented via a 20-minute recording to questions submitted to the official Elvis Presley web site. His response, recorded last week at the New York headquarters of his company, CKX Inc., was played at the Elvis Insiders Conference at The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts Downtown.
Little Susie Q, who attended the Elvis Insiders Conference, added a transcript to her ElvisWeek 2008 blog:
What are your plans for Las Vegas? -
It will be a big, interactive (you will be able to “talk” to Elvis), maybe they can get the street names “Elvis Presley Blvd West”. Elvis deserves a bigger presence in Vegas for what he did there.
What are your plans for Graceland –
The impact of economy may affect how fast what we do. Won’t be spending all of the money up front. But major pieces will be completed soon (“soon” being a relative term). Our current economic situation is pretty dire.
Sneak peak of plans?
Tied up with what happens with Memphis and TN We need approval. Once we know what we can do, plans will come out. Perhaps in 6 months.
Sillerman: I’m an Elvis fan – put your earplugs in and I’ll do my rendition of an Elvis song. I’m a big Elvis fans. Elvis and I have a long history.
Why did you want to buy EPE? Society has changed so much over the last 10 years, principally driven by the devices we have – ipods, dvds, internet, etc. we can now deal with iconistic people. Since it’s impossible for anyone else to ever attain the heights that Elvis did, it was our desire to be associated with this kind of talent, a talent that needs no definition, explanation. I can’t say when the idea precisely came to me, but after we sold our last entertainment company, we were looking for something.
What’s your earliest memory of Elvis -
I was studying classical piano (quite good, if I must say so myself), I had no awareness of rock
and roll or of Elvis. I had my little portable radio and there was no Yankee game on. So I heard an Elvis Presley song and was taken aback. I got out of bed to have my brother listen to it. He didn’t like it but I told him he was crazy. I was captivated then – by “Hound Dog”. I know it sounds funny, but it was almost a life-changing moment.
What did you think of the Celine Dion/American Idol duet with Elvis?
Every time I see that I get goosebumps. It’s the technology I was talking about. The idea emanated from CKX. Everyone I show it to says Elvis more than holds his own with Celine’s powerful voice.
Did you see Elvis in person?
Do you own the DVDs? I saw Elvis live 5 times – in college and after college. Once in Boston, 4 times in Vegas. When I watch the concert footage I am evoking the live experiences.
Elvis Radio – what’s your favorite era and song?
No one single favorite song. It changes all the time. I listen to 13 all the time. 50s era is my favorite. In the Ghetto, Lieber and Stoller songs.
Is there going to be an EP Theme Park?
No roller coasters and ferris wheels and things like that. There will be Elvis-themed features where you can come in with themes of Elvis’ life. Interactive. We can move things out of Graceland to display them elsewhere and restore the house to its original look.
Sillerman cancels Elvis Week appearance: Robert Sillerman, CKX Chairman, CEO and owner of EPE, has canceled his live appearance at the Elvis Insiders Conference during Elvis Week 2008. He now will be answering questions submitted by Elvis Insiders via video in a pre-recorded segment. The cause is said to be a scheduling conflict. (Source: Elvis Unlimited/Elvis News, Aug 2008)
How long live the King? - The future of Elvis: The July / August edition of BusinessTN magazine features Elvis on the cover with inside an article by Donnie Snow on the possible future of EPE entitled "A Little More Action".
A Little More Action: When celebrated deejay Junkie XL remixed a lesser Elvis Presley hit into a 2002 smash, it returned the long-dead king of rock 'n' roll to the spotlight of mainstream pop music. "A Little Less Conversation" was the first relevant blockbuster splash featuring Presley since before his untimely, unseemly death in 1977.
And despite an attempt by bona fide deejay royalty Paul Oakenfold to copy Junkie XL's success with a laudable yet forgettable remix of "Rubberneckin'" the following year, Presley hasn't had a new original hit since. (At press time, a remix of the Elvis classic "Baby Let's Play House" by Italian DJ Spankox was released digitally by Sony BMG Music Entertainment.)
But give the guy a break — he's been dead more than 30 years.
This August marks the 31st anniversary of Presley's passing, and since the JXL remix, the biggest U.S. headlines involving the King included Presley losing his top spot in 2006 on Forbes' morbid richest dead celebrities list to iconic grunge rocker Kurt Cobain (though he regained it the following year) and a flurry of announcements in the financial pages, beginning with the sale of his estate by daughter and sole heir Lisa Marie Presley to billionaire Wall Street wunderkind Robert F X Sillerman in 2004.
Sillerman's acquisition took the cherished "family" business public, and since then he has released several statements relating to the expansion of the Elvis brand—be it in the form of casinos and cruises or hotels and touring shows—and plans for major financial stake in the economic development of the dilapidated Whitehaven neighborhood that surrounds Graceland. With the possible exception of some of the locals who live near Graceland, most believe the brand has been under-commercialized. Lisa Marie Presley said as much when she sold the stagnating company. Sillerman, renowned for building billion-dollar media companies, can mine capital for fuel, but ultimately, it's still the world's first rock star who will power the ship, which begs the question: How long can Elvis float in the famously fickle pool of pop culture?
Fame, Fortune & the Future: Since Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) went public, there has been little action, despite a lot of talk (or rather, a lot of announcements), and the corporate culture around Graceland has become much less interactive with the press. (Not unexpectedly, EPE declined to participate in this story.) According to analysts, the long wait should have been anticipated. "One thing I didn't fully appreciate is the time it takes to develop the sort of large-scale projects they have planned," says Mark Argento, senior research analyst at Craig-Hallum Capital Group.
"Developing anything that can drive big revenue and big profits will take a while," he continues, pointing out that the deal Sillerman's company, CKX, is hammering out with French Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil has taken more than a year. "The planning that goes into it—the lead time is significant. They expect very little increase in revenue in 2008 and 2009, with it really kicking in in 2010 and 2011."
The original deal CKX made with Lisa Marie was announced in December 2004. CKX paid $114 million for an 85% interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises. Lisa Marie, who retained the remaining 15%, was paid $50 million in cash plus $26 million in CKX common and preferred stock. CKX also paid $25 million in EPE debt. Sillerman got a 90-year lease on Graceland, rights to Elvis' name, likeness, image and trademark, publishing rights to 650 songs and royalty rights to the few songs Elvis recorded after 1973, as well as to two dozen Presley movies.
Sillerman also paid $6.5 million to Elvis' ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. Fortune reported that CKX didn't have to pay Priscilla anything, but that doing so would make her more agreeable to appearing at grand openings and the like. It seems just that Priscilla would share in the sale, given that she was among the brain trust that turned the floundering, bankrupt estate into a trailblazing company—and Graceland into the most-visited private residence in the world. Barry Ward, former general counsel to the Elvis estate, was also in that management group, which included long-time family accountant Joseph Hanks; Jim Roscoe, trust officer at the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis; and Jack Soden, hired to head EPE. Ward helped appeal a court decision that denied Presley's estate rights to the rock star's name, likeness and image. This paved the way for the creation of the Elvis Law, the groundbreaking precedent that awarded celebrity estates control of intellectual property and trademarks after death.
"From where I sit, the Sillerman acquisition helped immensely, giving the estate the capital to ratchet up to a new level," Ward says, echoing a common refrain about the deal. When announced, Lisa Marie admitted that EPE could only grow so much and that it needed a bigger player to monetize future interest in Elvis.
"That's the amazing thing about the Elvis estate: just how many things they haven't done over the past 30 years," says longtime rock critic Stan Soocher, an entertainment attorney and associate professor of music and entertainment industry studies at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Elvis is one of the few examples in pop music of a star whose fame hasn't flagged, says Soocher, who is currently finishing his book, They Fought the Law: Rock Music Goes to Court, containing coverage of Elvis Presley's estate. (The book will be published in early 2009.)
"The CKX buyout is the most important financial development in the structure of the estate since it was founded," he says.
"Elvis Presley didn't do any international tours," he continues, "and because he's been so popular in England, it seems there is a pent-up demand to exploit." Soocher has a point: Presley's re-mastered No. 1 singles, which EPE released one at a time over the last couple years, tore up the British charts, which leads Soocher to think an international virtual, multimedia tour would likely reap large revenues.
But there's much more to the Elvis brand than music.
"Rockabilly may resurge, but it's never going to be mainstream rock again," Soocher says. "This whole other level [of enterprise] is so important to maintaining the Elvis brand."
He points to the proposed casino as one aspect of enterprise, as well as Elvis-themed destination venues around the world, à la Hard Rock Café.
"Domestically, there's a ton to do" says Argento, "but internationally, the opportunity to take the Elvis brand into a foreign market could dwarf the opportunities in the U.S. Put a casino in Macau or Dubai, put a replica of Graceland in Tokyo—the opportunities are huge. It would be epic for the Elvis brand."
The Mansion that Elvis Built: No kidding. Presley's estate has already earned far more than Presley did while he was alive, but Graceland in Tokyo? What would that do to local commercial and tax revenue streams? Most, including EPE and CKX, believe expanding the brand in such a way will increase interest and revenues in Memphis. According to Fortune, Sillerman's stake in the Presley estate exceeds its worth. Yet the company has announced a commitment to developing Graceland and its 120-acre campus. Plans include building one or more hotels and developing the surrounding neighborhood to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars—not that many checks have been written yet.
"I believe they are still gathering information on the project building specifications," says Harold B. Collins, the city councilman for Whitehaven. Collins says funds have been appropriated for improved cityscape to assist the development of a mile-plus stretch along the Brooks Road corridor, which will coincide with Memphis International Airport's ambitious "Aerotropolis" redevelopment plan.
"We're excited that they are getting ready to move on it," he says, adding that he hopes to see ground broken before the end of the year. "I think Mr. Sillerman knows how important this is to our city and is as eager to get it off the ground as we are." Well, maybe not as eager.
Last summer, news broke on a looming CKX buyout by 19X, a privately held company led by Sillerman and American Idol creator Simon Fuller (the "X" is a Sillerman signature). But in mid-May, the company lowered its buyout offer from $13.75 to $12 per CKX share. Sillerman said in a statement that the private company "remain[s] committed to completing the acquisition of CKX at a price that we believe reflects the continued outstanding performance of the company and which provides a substantial premium above the current price to the company's stockholders. [The price] also takes into account the seismic shift in the buyout world since the time we originally entered into this transaction."
The companies are reportedly working to close the deal by September.
"[The deal] should not have any effect on the economic development [in the area]," Argento says. "One of the reasons to take this private now is that it's a pretty attractive time, especially before the redevelopment gets underway. The bigger risk is the broader credit market—access to capital will probably be the bigger issue."
Most locals involved in the area's development are not giving too much thought to Graceland's goings-on; some view the Graceland makeover and build-out as only a piece of the overall vision.
"[Graceland's] development to come is part of the dynamic of building out what is currently the only fledgling Aerotropolis in the United States," says Arnold Perl, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. "When Elvis Presley Enterprises announces and develops the initiative they're working on, it will provide a significant boost to America's Aerotropolis.
There is no official word from Sillerman or local EPE officials on when Sillerman's real estate spin-off, FXRE, might commence the grand reawakening of the King. But Memphis isn't the only city laying claim to Elvis, and it isn't the only city in which Sillerman is spending money on Presley-related properties. In addition to dealings on Elvis Presley Boulevard, FXRE also has plans in the works involving several acres on Las Vegas Boulevard for a hotel and casino, as well as entertainment, retail, commercial and residential development. It would all feature Presley, perhaps in conjunction with Muhammad Ali. (Sillerman also owns 80% of Muhammad Ali Enterprises.)
Elvis: the Next Generation: But despite all the effort, there remains the question: How Long?
Elvis is undoubtedly the most parodied person in history—Google search "Elvis Tribute Artist" if you don't believe it—and his place in the record books still looms over contemporary stars. In April, at age 38, Mariah Carey finally surpassed Presley for second most No. 1 singles on Billboard with 18 (the Beatles lead with 20), and Madonna, who turns 50 in August, finally passed Presley for the most top-10 hits with 37.
But can Presley reach a new generation that has grown up with Elvis the image, not Elvis the man?
"I think the story is timeless," Ward contends. "America cast's its heroes away very begrudgingly."
For Sillerman, this likely is just the buildup before the big bonanza deal, given his modus operandi of buying media properties at low prices, maximizing the brand, packaging them and then unloading at a higher price. He did it in 1989 with radio stations, which he sold to what is now Viacom for $389 million, and again in 1997 to Hicks Muse for more than $2 billion. Three years later, he sold a bundle of concert venues to Clear Channel for $3 billion.
One can only wonder if/when he will sell EPE—and what it will look like when he does.
Soocher doesn't believe it will happen any time soon.
"You have to kind of figure out where's the sweet spot for the sale," he says. "With Ali and the Elvis estate, you would think Sillerman would want to build up the brands—and they haven't hit the ground running.
"I don't think, as an investor, you would think they would be much more valuable together than apart."
Soocher argues that a more modernizing match would be some entity from the current list of stars that appeals to the younger fan base—and that, essentially, means hip-hop. Coincidentally, Rap mogul and entrepreneur Jay-Z just signed a 360 deal with an SFX spin-off company—the concert venue company Sillerman founded before selling to Clear Channel. The deal essentially turns Jay-Z into a property for commoditization, which is what Sillerman is currently doing with Elvis Presley.
Says Soocher: "I think the younger music fans are used to seeing music come at them from all possible ways, so they don't look at that as a violation. Fans are much more accepting today."
Nevertheless, what's unique about the Presley situation is that despite being dead, he is still a towering performance figure in pop music. The Presley estate may have outgrown the man, but it can never seemingly outgrow the performer. Unlike other industry personalities whose businesses can theoretically run without his or her explicit presence—an Oprah Winfrey or even Jay-Z come to mind—can you imagine a Presley industry without Elvis in the spotlight? ( Source: BusinessTN magazine, 2 July 2008)
Robert Sillerman at Elvis Week 2008: For the first time ever, Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CKX Inc., parent company of Elvis Presley Enterprises will be a special guest at the 2008 Elvis Insiders Conference. Mr. Sillerman will answer questions during his segment of the conference. (Source: EPE, 25 June 2008)
Tentative Settlement Reached in Stockholder Litigation involving parent Elvis company: CKX, Inc. announced on 28 May 2008 that its Board of Directors has reached an agreement in connection with the revised acquisition proposal made by 19X, Inc., on May12, 2008, to modify certain terms of the pending agreement to acquire CKX. As previously disclosed by CKX, the sale of CKX will be accomplished through a merger with 19X, Inc., a private company owned and controlled by Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CKX, and Simon R. Fuller, a director of CKX and the Chief Executive Officer of 19 Entertainment Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CKX. The revised terms, which are listed below, were reached following extensive negotiations among a Special Committee comprised of independent directors and representatives of 19X. The agreed upon terms which have been approved by the Company's Board of Directors are reflected in an amendment to the merger agreement, the management cooperation agreement and a tentative settlement of the outstanding litigation.
The revised terms include the following:
-- 19X will pay each CKX stockholder $12.00 per share in cash;
-- The outside deadline for closing the transaction has been extended to October 31, 2008;
-- 19X has agreed to increase the break-up fee payable to CKX in the event that the merger is not completed by the new outside deadline by offering an additional $500,000 payable in cash, and by reducing the value of the stock, if any, used to pay the initial $37 million fee from $12.00 to $11.08 per share. As a result of the reduction in the attributed stock price, Mr. Sillerman, on behalf of 19X, would pay to CKX approximately 256,016 additional CKX shares as part of the break-up fee if 19X elected to pay in shares;
-- Stockholders holding at least 73% of CKX's outstanding shares must vote in favor of the deal for the deal to be approved rather than 50%, as provided in the original transaction; and
-- CKX will conduct a new "go shop" period that will last not less than 45 and no more than 60 days, during which time the Special Committee, through its financial advisor, will actively solicit superior offers for the Company.
In addition, certain members of CKX management, including, among others, Messrs. Sillerman and Fuller, have agreed that if a superior proposal is made to CKX for a price greater than $12.00 per share, such management stockholders will pass along the amount in excess of $12.00 to all other CKX stockholders until the other CKX stockholders have received $13.25 per share, at which point those members of CKX management and the other CKX stockholders would share equally in any further excess amounts.
By way of example, if a third party were to offer $12.50 for the Company, each management stockholder would continue to receive $12.00 per share, and the total amount above $12.00 that otherwise would have gone to such individuals ($0.50 per share) would be added to the $12.50 being received by the public stockholders.
Commenting on the series of transactions, Mr. Sillerman said, "Simon and I are pleased that, in this climate of market turmoil, we have agreed with the CKX Special Committee and with the plaintiffs in the current stockholder litigation to a revised transaction that delivers significant value to the CKX stockholders and provides for greater certainty of closing. We will press forward to a swift closing of the transaction and beginning CKX's future as a private company."
A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the Company and plaintiff's counsel in the pending Del Shareholders lawsuit challenging the transaction reflecting the tentative settlement agreement and memorializing the terms described above. While the settlement remains subject to court approval, these terms are now definitively part of the transaction and represent the final terms, regardless of whether the settlement is ultimately finalized.
For more detailed information please see our Current Report on Form 8-K, which was filed today and may be obtained at the Company's website at http://www.ckx.com as well as at the SEC's web site at http://www.sec.gov.
About CKX, Inc.: CKX, Inc. is engaged in the ownership, development and commercial utilization of entertainment content. To date, the Company has focused on acquiring globally recognized entertainment content and related assets, including the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley, the operations of Graceland, the rights to the name, image and likeness of Muhammad Ali and proprietary rights to the IDOLS television brand, including the American Idol series in the United States and local
adaptations of the IDOLS television show format which, collectively, air in over 100 countries around the world. On June 1, 2007, CKX entered into a merger agreement with 19X, Inc., a private company owned and controlled by Mr. Sillerman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CKX, and Simon R. Fuller, a director of CKX and the Chief Executive Officer of 19 Entertainment Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CKX, that will result in the sale of CKX to 19X. For more information about CKX, Inc., visit its corporate website at http://www.ckx.com.
This communication is being made in respect of the proposed merger transaction involving CKX and 19X. In connection with the proposed merger, CKX will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a proxy statement and a Rule 13e-3 transaction statement on Schedule 13e-3. BEFORE MAKING A VOTING DECISION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT, THE SCHEDULE 13e-3 AND OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION. Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of the proxy statement, the Schedule 13e-3 and other documents filed by CKX (when available) at the SEC's Web site at http://www.sec.gov. The proxy statement, the Schedule 13e-3 and such other documents may also be obtained for free by directing such request to CKX, Inc. Investor Relations, 650 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022 or on the Company's website at http://www.ckx.com.
CKX and its directors, executive officers and certain other members of its management and employees may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from its stockholders in connection with the proposed merger. Information regarding the interests of the CKX's participants in the solicitation will be included in the proxy statement relating to the proposed merger when it becomes available. (Source: CKX/Charmaine Voisine)
Dead Elvis set to generate $189M in revenues by 2013: You don't often get to read SEC documents guesstimating how much money a dead idol will make in the future. But today's our lucky day: Witness this filing from CKX, which owns an 85% stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises -- basically the rights to run Graceland and license the King's name. Not included: The rights to sell most of Elvis' actual music.
But even without the ability to sell his songs, CKX says Elvis will generate $68.8 million for them this year. Not bad for a guy who died in 1977. But the future looks even brighter: CKX says that Elvis hotels, casinos and other projects will bump that number up to $189 million by 2013. Which makes Frank Sinatra's $50 million payday last year look like bupkis. (Sale of EPE, Source: Peter Kakka, Silicon Valley Insider)
EIN Comment: The $50m payment to the Sinatra Estate gives the late crooner inside running to top the next Forbes Annual List of Top Earning Dead Celebrities. It is likely EPE's revenues will fall after the ultra successful 30th anniversary year in 2007. (7 March 2008)
EPE files on trademark: On February 12, 2008, Elvis Presley Enterprises filed to protect the trademark The Elvis Las Vegas and The E Las Vegas in relation to goods and services in three categories:
“real estate services for residential apartments, condominiums and retail establishments” “casino, golf course, sporting events and entertainment services, namely, live performances featuring musicians music and singers, prerecorded music and video, dancers, magicians, actors, acrobats and comedians” and…
“resort hotel, hotel, restaurant, bar, lounge services, arena services, namely providing facilities for sports, concerts, theater, conventions and exhibition; providing theme park services; cafes; cafeterias; catering; child care; cocktail lounge buffets; cocktail lounges; hotel services for preferred customers; spa services; providing banquet and social function facilities for special occasions; providing convention facilities; providing facilities for exhibitions; snack bars”.
The majority of Elvis Presley Enterprises (85%) is owned by CKX, Inc., owner of 19 Entertainment, creator of American Idol. CKX Chairman Bob Sillerman announced plans in 2006 to turn Graceland and the surrounding areas into an international tourist destination and double the 600,000 annual visitors. Sillerman has stated that a new hotel is a possible component to these plans.
Mork wonders if The Elvis Las Vegas will be in Memphis in the area around Graceland, or if Elvis Presley Enterprises is actually planning a resort hotel in Las Vegas. In any case, you can go home now. Mork has just left the building.
EPE buys Whitehaven Multifamily: Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. purchased 1032 Craft Road in Whitehaven for nearly $1.58 million from Michael E. Reed. EPE purchased the property as part of its $250 million redevelopment of the Graceland visitor center. The property at 1032 Craft Road is an apartment building on 5 acres. EPE purchased the property for its land value and will tear down the 88-unit apartment building that was built in 1963. The land sold for about $315,000 per acre.
EPE’s parent company, CKX, plans to own more than 105 acres that surround Graceland. It plans to build new hotels and improve the public spaces around Graceland. For instance, the existing 128-room Heartbreak Hotel will be raised and in its place will be a much larger convention hotel on the Graceland side of Elvis Presley Boulevard. Furthermore, the existing visitor center will be raised and replaced with one seven times the size of Graceland. (8 Feb 2008)
EPE acquisitions around Graceland:Elvis World's Bill E. Burk reports: EPE continues buying up every inch of land within sight of Graceland. Last two purchases have been apartment complexes on the hill behind the shops, giving Graceland now over 100 acres in the area -- bigger than the Memphis Zoo! ALL of announced plans have "Elvis"connected things (hotel<s>, restaurants, shops, visitors center, parking) being re-located to the east side of EP Blvd., leaving a vast amount of acreage on the west side unannounced. The name "Disney" keeps getting mentioned more and more and time passes.
Until EPE gets its hands on the Boulevard Souvenirs property, don't expect a lot of work to get started on the east side ... but 2009 seems to be the target date for opening all these things. (5 Feb 2008)
The Magic of Elvis 'still growing': EPE had its "biggest year ever" in 2007, according to EPE director of marketing Scott Williams. What made 2007 stand out, Williams said, was the successful brand partnerships like the partnership with Reese's for a Collector Edition Peanut Butter & Banana Creme version of its peanut butter cup. Other successful partnerships in 2007 included Harley-Davidson, Budweiser, Sports Illustrated, Tennessee Tourism and American Idol. Another standout partnership, according to Williams, was with NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. "The only fans I can think of who are bigger than Elvis fans are NASCAR fans," Williams said with a quick laugh.
The Ultimate ETA Contest, of which Tupelo hosted one of the preliminary rounds, contributed to the year's success as well. Tupelo, being the birthplace of Elvis, was selected again to host a preliminary round at the Tupelo Elvis Festival June 6-8. Williams said EPE used Tupelo last year as the model for a lot of the smaller towns that were hosting qualifying rounds. Business also was good at Graceland
and the surrounding properties in Memphis. Williams said about 600,000 people buy a ticket to tour the house each year, and another several thousand visit just to shop or do the free walk-up to the house.
And Williams said he only expects business in the Elvis world to get better.
"The magic of Elvis is still growing as more younger fans discover Elvis," he said. About one-third of visitors to Graceland are younger than 34 and 75 percent of Graceland tourists are visiting for the first time. "According to all of our research, it's growing and growing," he said. EPE's goal is to "preserve, protect and enhance the legacy of Elvis" - but EIN is not sure how Peanut Butter & Banana Creme bars or rubber ducks achieve that! EPE is a subsidiary of CKX Inc. a publicly traded company that also includes American Idol and Muhammad Ali. Go here to our EIN Spotlight on CKX and the sale of EPE. (News, Source;EIN/DailyJournal, Feb 2008)
Disneyland type theme park for Graceland?: Elvis World's Bill E. Burk advises:
'EPE just paid $2.5 million to buy the Royal Oaks apartments on Craft Road, just west of EP Blvd. in Memphis (sitting atop the hill behind the shops).
Though EPE has been extremely tight-lipped about the word "Disney," (see EW86) . . . in announcing the news, the TV dude said "Graceland is planning to build a Disney-like theme park in the area."
In Elvis World #86, we pointed out that most (if not all) the major Elvis things are being re-located on the east (mansion) side of EP Blvd., which would leave all those scores of acres on the west side completely open for something like a Disney development. EW86 informed you there have been "talks" between EPE and Disney.
OUR QUESTION TO YOU IS (and get your answers back to us via e-mail soon as you can and be as verbose as you wish):
How do YOU feel about a Disney-like park being built in the Graceland area? Do you think it will bring in new Elvis fans? Add to the Graceland experience? Or subtract from it? Given all those acres on the west side of EP ... what would YOU like to see placed over there?
Waiting to hear from y'all on this.' (Source: Bill E. Burk, 23 Jan 2008)
EPE buys Royal Oaks: Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. has bought the Royal Oaks Apartments at 1032 Craft Road from Michael E. Reed for $1.6 million.
The Royal Oaks is a 13-building apartment complex built in 1963. The complex has about 80 units and sits on a 5.2-acre lot on the north side of Craft Road west of Elvis Presley Boulevard.
No one answered a phone number for the apartments; an answering machine states it is the number for MBM Properties. Representatives from EPE were not available for comment by press time.
Nearly two years ago, New York-based CKX acquired an 85 percent stake in EPE, with Lisa Marie Presley retaining 15 percent interest. CKX recently announced a $250 million plan to develop Graceland into a tourism development zone centered on Graceland and spreading to surrounding property. The plan calls for "building an expanded visitors center, developing new attractions and merchandising shops and building a boutique convention hotel," CKX management wrote in the company's most recent annual report.(19 Jan 2008)
FXRE to have major say in EPE redevelopment plans: FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. ("FXRE") announced today that Robert F.X. Sillerman and Barry Shier are joining the Company's senior management team, with Mr. Sillerman to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Shier to serve as Chief Operating Officer.
This will be the seventh public company built and run by Mr. Sillerman, adding to the list of six prior successful ventures, including CKX, Inc. (NASDAQ:CKXE), where he continues to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Sillerman has also successfully developed a number of real estate projects, including, most recently, the Temenos Anguilla resort.
Mr. Shier has had a long and prominent career in the hotel and gaming industry, having spent more than 15 years with Mirage Resorts Inc. He most recently served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Golden Nugget Las Vegas Corporation, and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
FXRE is an entertainment-oriented real estate development company with a plan to pursue real estate and entertainment-based projects and attractions throughout the world. The Company owns 17.72 contiguous acres of land located at the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada, known as the Park Central Property. FXRE has licensed from Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., and Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC, the right it to use the intellectual property and certain other assets associated with Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali in the development of its real estate and other entertainment attraction-based projects. FXRE currently anticipates that the development of the Park Central Property will involve multiple elements that incorporate the Elvis Presley assets and theming.
FXRE also expects to play a major role in Elvis Presley Enterprises' plans to redevelop and expand the Graceland attraction as the centerpiece of the Whitehaven section of Memphis, Tennessee. The master plan for this redevelopment incorporates approximately 100 acres surrounding and contiguous to the Graceland mansion property and is expected to include a new visitor center, exhibition space, retail, hotel, convention facilities, public open space and parking on both sides of Elvis Presley Boulevard.
FXRE will develop up to three hotels to be built as part of the Graceland master plan. In the event that the hotel complexes to be developed by the Company become a larger element of the overall project, including becoming more integrated into the visitor and mansion experience, FXRE may expand its relationship with Elvis Presley Enterprises to assume a larger role in the overall development.
"I am enormously excited by the opportunity to further enhance the legacies of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali through the development of our planned real estate-based projects," said Mr. Sillerman. "I know Barry shares my vision of the opportunities available to us in Las Vegas, Memphis and worldwide and I look forward to working with him to realize our shared vision for the company." (Source: News Observer, 11 Jan 2007)
Sillerman company declares distribution of shares date: CKX, Inc. (Nasdaq: CKXE), announced today that it had set the record date for the distribution of shares of FX Real Estate and Entertainment Inc. stock to the CKX stockholders as December 31, 2007. Stockholders of CKX will receive, on the date the distribution is made, two shares of common stock of FX Real Estate and Entertainment for every ten shares of common or preferred stock of CKX that they own as of December 31st.
FX Real Estate and Entertainment has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to register the shares to be distributed. The distribution will take place as soon as is commercially practicable after the date on which the registration statement is declared effective by the SEC.
The distribution of shares in FX Real Estate and Entertainment is intended to give CKX stockholders an interest in FXRE's location-based exploitation of CKX's Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali assets pursuant to the terms of FXRE's license agreements with CKX and its subsidiaries.
For more detailed information please see our Current Report on Form 8-K, which was filed today and may be obtained at the Company's website at www.ckx.com as well as at the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov. (Source: Fox Business, 22 Dec 2007)
Graceland zoning issue deferred: Memphis City Council members will attend three more meetings together before most of them leave office at the end of the year. As their terms draw to a close, an agenda set by council chairman Tom Marshall back in September is shaping much of the last-minute business the council is pursuing.
It's also creating a to-do list that will require action after the New Year. Marshall originally had drawn up an 11-point action plan to guide the current council's final days. One of those 11 tasks had called for the council quickly scheduling a vote to approve a rezoning request needed as part of the large-scale redevelopment of Graceland, the famous home of Elvis Presley, along with the neighborhood around it.
That item has been punted down the road for the new council to address.
"The Graceland rezoning application just couldn't make it, because it came down to a matter of timing," Marshall said, referring to the fact that council ordinances must be voted on three times. "They simply couldn't make application in time in order for this council to go through three readings.
"So instead of jeopardizing that huge financial initiative with two readings before one council and then another reading before a new council, they've elected to start their initial presentation to the new council," he said, "which I actually recommended to them to do."
'Tremendous' but close to the vest: As far as what that presentation will consist of or the details surrounding the need for that rezoning, Marshall isn't saying. Whatever they are, Elvis Presley Enterprises - the corporation that officially conducts and manages Elvis-related business - apparently intends to make a big announcement about the effort soon.
"I can't tell you specifically what they'll be doing," Marshall said. "But I can tell you in very large and general terms that they are going to be pursuing a tremendous, unprecedented financial infusion to the current Graceland site. And they're going to be requiring council action to make it a reality. That action will include zoning and other potential community enhancement initiatives."
The most recent annual report of CKX Inc., which acquired an 85 percent ownership stake in EPE in February 2005, hints at what those efforts entail. Company officials already have held several meetings with local government officials in Memphis about revamping Graceland.
That redevelopment effort includes "building an expanded visitors center, developing new attractions and merchandising shops and building a boutique convention hotel," CKX management writes in the annual report. "This project is conditioned on a number of factors including obtaining necessary approvals and concessions from local and state authorities and attracting an appropriate hotel partner." ( Source: Andy Meek, Memphis Daily News/Charmaine Voisine, 22 nov 2007)
B & K Enterprises Announces Exclusive Partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises to Produce Authentic Replicas of Elvis’ Famed Jumpsuits and Stage Costumes: For the first time ever, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE) has licensed a company to create replicas of Elvis’ iconic jumpsuits. B & K Enterprises, known internationally for its attention to detail in the creation of authentic replica jumpsuits worn by the King of Rock and Roll, has signed a formal licensing partnership with EPE.
B & K has exclusive rights to manufacture these replicas, originally designed and produced by Bill Belew and Gene Doucette in the 1970s. Many of the original jumpsuits worn by Elvis in concert are currently on display at Graceland. Doucette remains involved with B & K in the creative process by producing the embroidery work on the costumes using original patterns and designs.
B & K has produced jumpsuit costumes for numerous films, television shows and print campaigns, including Disney’s recent release “The Game Plan,” the 2001 film, “3000 Miles to Graceland” and the November 2007 cover of Conde Nast’s new magazine Movies Rock, featuring Bill Murray in an Elvis jumpsuit. The designs have also become popular with celebrity clients, including John Mellencamp and Madonna. EPE’s first-ever and highly successful Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest held in August of this year featured many of the contestants performing in B & K costumes including the winner, Shawn Klush (see picture above).
The family-owned business headquartered in Charlestown, IN, is one of the premier full-service custom costume shops in the world and produces costumes for stage and screen in addition to Elvis jumpsuit replicas. Butch Polston, owner of B & K Enterprises says, “This is more than a business, it’s a passion. I’m a lifelong Elvis fan and his jumpsuits are pieces of art to me. The costumes personified Elvis' larger than life image as a music artist, it’s an honor to create these costumes with EPE’s stamp of approval.”
In addition to replicas of Elvis stage wear, B & K offers a line of shirts, vests, belts, jackets, casual wear, jewelry, all authentic replicas of clothing worn by Elvis Presley. Consumers of B & K’s products include Elvis Presley tribute artists, music memorabilia collectors, Elvis fans and various celebrities. (News, Source: Business Wire, 15 Nov 2007)
The beat goes on - battle continues between EPE & area retailer (see earlier stories May 2007 below): A little more than a year ago, a representative of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. floated a business proposition to Rick Roberts, the owner of a one-story brick storefront a few steps from Graceland.
The offer reportedly involved buying Roberts' Elvis-themed gift shop Boulevard Souvenirs for about $350,000 and assuming the 13 years remaining on its lease.
Roberts, who developed his independent retail operation at 3706 Elvis Presley Blvd. on land that once was the site of a car repair shop, turned down the request to sell.
The store currently is stocked from front to back with trinkets such as old newspapers, T-shirts and mugs, and it grosses about $1 million a year.
But EPE didn't stop there, Roberts' attorney argues in a lawsuit filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The corporation that officially conducts and manages Elvis-related business recently tweaked the licensing agreements it has in place with merchandise vendors. CKX Inc. and Robert F.X. Sillerman, which acquired an 85 percent ownership of Elvis Presley Enterprises in February 2005, were not named in the lawsuit.
License needed: A change that was inserted now prohibits vendors from selling their Elvis wares to unauthorized retailers within a 5-mile radius of Graceland.
"Well, guess who's within a 5-mile radius of Graceland?" said Randy Songstad, the attorney representing Boulevard Souvenirs. "So the vendors said, 'Hey, you can't do that, they do a lot of money with us.' "And (EPE) said, 'If you sell to them, we'll take your license.' So the vendors called us up, one by one, and said, 'It's killing us, but we can't sell to you.'"
Earlier this month, one of the federal claims filed on behalf of Boulevard Souvenirs - a claim that EPE and vice president of international licensing Carol Butler were conspiring to eliminate all independently owned retail competitors near Graceland - was dismissed. Why the conspiracy claim wasn't successful is that under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, a conspiracy involving a business and an employee can't technically be viewed as a conspiracy. A business, in other words, can't conspire with itself.
EPE did not respond to requests for an interview and stated in a previous e-mailed response that no comment would be forthcoming. In a motion to dismiss the claims against EPE, Glankler Brown PLLC attorney William Bradley Jr. wrote that the effort was made to amend the vendor license agreements partly in response to an uptick in the proliferation of bootlegged Elvis merchandise around Graceland.
"EPE does not want its 'genuine' merchandise sold in a place where bootleg or unauthorized merchandise is also sold," he wrote. EPE has in place more than 200 license agreements with licensees that either manufacture or authorize the manufacture of Elvis-themed collectibles and souvenirs.
Big year for business: Graceland, the late singer's famous mansion home, is a tourist mecca that averages about 566,000 visitors each year. Across the street from Graceland sits Graceland Plaza, where EPE operates a number of Elvis-themed museums and attractions and sells related merchandise.
This year has been an important year for both EPE and Boulevard Souvenirs, in that it marks the 30th anniversary of the singer's death. Throughout the anniversary year, tourists are expected to descend in droves on the commercial pocket of Whitehaven surrounding Graceland.
Boulevard Souvenirs also expected to see an increase in sales this year, according to court documents. Underneath the gift shop's store logo on the sign that's passed by swarms of daily tourists are the words "The Beat Goes On."
"If you don't have official EPE merchandise, you get people who come to town, that's what they want - you don't have it, they don't buy from you," Songstad said. "So it's a huge deal in our industry to be able to buy officially licensed Elvis Presley merchandise."
Boulevard Souvenirs is preparing its next move in the court action over what EPE sees as an assertion of more control over its signature product line and what the small store sees as a bid by EPE to shut it out of the marketplace inappropriately. Songstad declined to specify what legal options remain available, but insisted the recent dismissal of the conspiracy claim did not close the book on Boulevard's case. (Sale of EPE, Source: Andy Meek, The Daily News, 26 Oct 2007)
Elvis still big business: Even from beyond the grave, Elvis Presley still generates big bucks. That was even truer on the anniversary of his death last month.
Fans from Europe, Asia, Australia, South America - and even from exotic locales like Kansas - spent their hard-earned money for T-shirts, coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers, refrigerator magnets and other trinkets during the events commemorating his death 30 years ago.
Many made the 110-mile trek from Memphis, Tenn., where the King of Rock 'n' Roll enjoyed his fame and gaudy fortune in Graceland, to Tupelo, the northeast Mississippi city where Elvis came into the world on Jan. 8, 1935, in a tiny shotgun shack built by his father. They also filled hotel rooms as far away as northwest Mississippi's casino row in Tunica and spent money on meals, rental cars and gasoline, giving a significant, although difficult to quantify, boost to the area's economy.
Dick Guyton, executive director of the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation in Tupelo, estimated that fans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars there and at area hotels and stores this week, which is the busiest of the year for Elvis tourism.
The more lucrative earnings were in Memphis. Last year, Graceland took in $27 million in revenue, and the overall Elvis business brings in more than $40 million a year for CKX Inc., the New York-based company that controls most Elvis enterprises. ...
In Memphis on Aug. 15, thousands of Presley fans braved 105-degree heat as they wound down Graceland's driveway in a graveside procession in advance of the 30th anniversary of the singer's death Aug. 16.
The heat led to the death of a fan from New Jersey, a 67-year-old woman. The Memphis Fire Department said it also treated at least six people overcome by heat, including an 8-year-old boy who was hospitalized.(Source: AP/Presleys in the Press)
Don't step on Elvis! #1: No matter how un-logical EPE’s vision on Elvis merchandise may be, the company has and will always have the last word on Elvis related products. The Belgian wholesale company Sogilo discovered that the hard way. Sogilo had applied for the licensing of a series of Elvis products, including bathroom carpets.
The first contacts via email were very promising for the Belgian company, although every email stated that EPE will have the final approval, before the products are commercially released. Sogilo also got permission to develop a few demonstration models. It was then, when EPE put their foot down and said “no” to the bathroom-carpet with Elvis’s picture and name. According to their lawyer, the company will never allow products with Elvis’s likeness that can be stepped on.
The Belgian judge noted in his decision that EPE has a “difficult to understand” logic regarding Elvis related merchandise, but accepted the fact that the “heirs of Elvis” have the right to reject merchandise that doesn’t meet the guide lines of the company. Therefore, the bathroom carpet cannot be produced.
The Belgian company is not planning to put the case to rest. It believes that EPE has broken an pre-contractual agreement and appeals the decision. To be continued.
Below is Patricia Cappuyns's version of the judgement. Cappuyns represented Elvis Presley Enterprises.
In a judgment handed down on 26 March 2007, the Commercial Court of Dendermonde in Belgium clarified the intellectual property owner's prerogative to decide how his lP is to he used.
Belgian rug manufacturer and licensee candidate, Sogilo, entered into license negotiations with Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) through EPE's Benelux agent. The negotiations centred on the production of household goods bearing the likeness of Elvis and Elvis-related trade marks.
The agent made it clear from the beginning of the negotiations that everything discussed was subject to the approval of EPE. It was also made clear to Sogilo that the first step of the license negotiations consisted of completing a Business Proposal which would subsequently be submitted for EPE's approval.
Only after approval hy EPE of the Business Proposal could a formal agreement be entered into.
Under EPE's conditions, licensed products can only be brought to market once a formal agreement is signed and the various product approval procedures provided in it are complied with. Any product that does not follow the various stages of the approval procedure is immediately removed from the market.
Pending the license negotiations, EPE approved some products for the sole purpose of showing them at a trade fair in January 2002. Approval for a number of other products, such as bath mats and rugs, was withheld because EPE ohjected to any use that would entail stepping on the face of Elvis. However, unknown to EPE, Sogilo had already entered into agreements with its customers for products that had either not been approved, or that had only been approved for use at the trade fair.
When, finally, no license agreement was concluded and Sogilo had no Elvis products to deliver to its customers, Sogilo allegedly suffered lost profits and damage to its commercial reputation. The company then filed a claim for over €400,OOO (approximately US$537,000) in damages against EPE and its Benelux agent on the basis of contractual and pre-contractual liability. The basis of Sogilo's argument was that EPE did not communicate their disapproval of the use of Elvis' likeness on the rugs until the end of December 2001, by which time Sogilo had already started production of samples and was marketing them to its customers.
In the 26 March 2007 judgment, the Commercial Court of Dendermonde held that no contractual or pre-contractual fault had been committed by EPE or its agent, and dismissed Sogilo's claims.
The Court confirmed that it is the right holder's prerogative to exercise control over how his protected property is to be used by a (potential) licensee, especially if it was made clear to the (potential) licensee from the beginning of the negotiations that the right holder intended to exercise such control.
It had been made clear to Sogilo that any negotiations with the agent were subject to EPE's approval and every detail of the use of the images of Elvis Presley was subject to formal approval hy EPE. Although no licensing agreement was ever concluded between Sogilo and EPE it was made clear from the beginning that any products that were not formally approved by EPE in the pre-production stage would be removed from the market.
The Court concluded that Sogilo should have known that it was taking a considerable risk in giving instructions to third parties without having fust obtained formal approval on every detail from EPE. Sogilo's claim for damages was therefore dismissed. The judgment is still subject to appeal. see next story (Source: Elvis Matters, 2 Sep 2007)
Don't step on Elvis! (#2): In response to the foregoing report Elvis Express Radio has rightly drawn attention to the following products already licensed by EPE:
ELVIS SHOES or FLIP-FLOPS where you tread on his likeness and then pound the streets with his face on the soles.....or An Elvis chair where you can SIT on his face (yep, that rug looks degrading to his image now?)....Hey, why not a trash can so you can throw all your crap away IN Elvis....Last but not least the Elvis throw, which of course many fans also use as A RUG!!!!!!!! ( Source: Elvis Express Radio, 2 Sep 2007)
EPE warned about ETAs contest: A high-ranking official with RCA/BMG records has twice told Elvis World, in private, that in a planning session with EPE for Elvis Week 2007, the record company strongly advised against EPE starting its own Elvis impersonator contest.
"We told them that if they got into the impersonator (ETA) business, all the press would flock to the Elvis look-alikes and would forget everything else. When they insisted they push ahead, we (RCA/BMG) felt like we didn't want to come out with some special release for the 30th anniversary because it would get lost in all the hoopla the press would be giving to the impersonators."
WELL, FOLKS, the warning has proven true! You don't pick up a local Memphis newspaper, or turn on a local TV channel, without seeing Elvis impersonators everywhere you look.
They're everywhere! They're everywhere!
And, of course, media cameras always seek out the heaviest-set, ugliest ones with the worst looking sideburns. One on TV last night sang a few bars of an Elvis song and I felt my TV screen was going to shatter! Even at the new Elvis Expo at the Cook Convention Center downtown, they are there entertaining and there's even an Elvis karaoke which attracts them like flies to a dumpster !
SO ... RCA/BMG seems to have known what it was talking about.
The new Elvis Expo has dealer tables covering over 35,000 square feet of space. Heretofore, dealers have been limited to independent productions at the Clarion Hotel and Airport Inn. Now, with the advent of Elvis Expo, we'd venture to say the independent Elvis "conventions" may soon be a thing of the past.
ONE WORD can be used to describe Elvis Week 2007: Commercialism! Or maybe two words: ELVIS COMMERCIALISM !!
And this is nothing but a preview of what is to come. Whereas the independent dealers' "Elvis conventions" cost $2 at the door; the Elvis Expo charges $15. And being downtown, add another $10 or so for parking. (Source: Bill E. Burk, Aug 2007)
Graceland welcomes the impersonators - a sign of the new Elvis world: Viewed for years by the gatekeepers to Elvis Presley's Graceland with a mixture of resigned bemusement and outright disgust, impersonators of the King finally have their first chance to participate in an officially sanctioned tribute to the rock legend.
Managers of Presley's home in Memphis plan to anoint their first-ever official Elvis "tribute artist" on Friday, near the end of a week of events commemorating the 30th anniversary of Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977. Elvis died at 42 of heart disease worsened by drug abuse.
The rules are simple: Nothing tacky or kitschy, and no ridiculous spoof. The contest judges will be looking for sincerity and respect — even if it is accompanied by karate moves, black pompadours and rhinestone jumpsuits.
"It's all about paying tribute to the life and legacy of Elvis," said Paul Jankowski, marketing chief for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., the company that operates Graceland and its sprawling tourist complex.
The "Ultimate Elvis" search has been under way since March with a series of preliminary contests around the world. Twenty-four contestants made it to Memphis, but 14 were eliminated Sunday in a final qualifier.
The finalists for the contest are all white men in their 20s to 40s, but Jankowski said preliminary contests, which must be approved by Graceland, are under no orders to restrict contestants by age, race or ethnicity.
The decision to hold the contest follows a change of heart by Elvis Presley Enterprises after its sale two years ago to CKX Inc., which also owns the "American Idol" TV show.
"There are competitions all over the world and they're all fantastic, but to have one run by Elvis Presley Enterprises is something special," said Paul Larcombe, a professional tribute artist from Crewe, England, and one of 10 finalists for the Graceland crown.
Unofficial Elvis impersonator contests, with performers ranging from the ridiculous to the reverential, are held around the globe, drawing participants of all sizes, shapes, ethnicity and ages. There are even female Elvises. But for the serious tribute artists, some of whom make a living copying the King, winning the official Graceland title, or just getting to the finals, may be rewarding. (Source: AP, 14 Aug 2007)
The man who owns Elvis: Elvis Presley was the king — rock's first icon. A hip-swiveling heartthrob with more hit records than anyone in history. Thirty years after his death, Elvis is still idolized. So what is that name worth now?
To Bob Sillerman, who bought the king's name and likeness, it was worth $114 million. That's what his company, CKX, paid for Elvis Presley enterprises two years ago. Elvis' music was not part of the deal. he sold most of his hits back to his label before his death. but the family sold 85 percent of everything else and his ex-wife Priscilla Presley says it wasn't an easy decision.
"Absolutely. I mean I'm not gonna lie. It's pretty frightening when, you know, you've been a private company for all these years," she told Sunday Morning correspondent Anthony Mason. "You know and you're the boss."
But Priscilla, the mother of his only child, Lisa Marie, says the family business needed an investor to expand. And Sillerman was just the man to do it.
"He just got it," she said. "You know there is no other company like his company."
His company also owns the "American Idol' franchise, which Sillerman bought for $175 million. Then last year he added "the greatest of all time" to his roster of icons, buying rights to Muhammad Ali's name for another $50 million. A Bronx born billionaire, Sillerman made his fortune in radio and the concert promotion business. Now he sees Elvis as an under developed asset. On his corporate jet, Mason flew with him to Memphis to tour Graceland, the 13 acre estate where Elvis lived with Priscilla and Lisa Marie. Sillerman said he doesn't feel like he owns Graceland
"It's still their home," he said. "I don't think you can own something that's as big as Elvis Presley. I think I feel a sense of stewardship. But not ownership."
Each year, 600,000 people file through Graceland. Sillerman believes he can double that number
"So many people want to come to Graceland because they want to celebrate his life," Sillerman said. "You know 40 percent of our visitors are unaccompanied kids under the age of 35. It tells you that it does get passed down."
He wants to move the visitor center which sits on the other side of Elvis Presley boulevard and put it next to Graceland. The heartbreak hotel will be torn down to make way for two bigger hotels. In the entire complex that takes up 25 acres will grow to more than 100 acres. At the same time Sillerman is working with Cirque du Soleil to create a permanent Elvis show for Las Vegas and traveling shows that could tour the world.
"China is so big it could probably support a touring show forever," Sillerman said. "We're all thrilled about it. We think it's a whole other take on Elvis," Priscilla Presley said. "I think he would absolutely love it."
"If the Cirque du Soleil numbers hold true for Elvis, as they have for every one of their other shows, we're in a position to be making 100 million dollars a year in a few years," Sillerman said. "You know, that's a no-brainer."
Starting with a single small town radio station. Now Sillerman's the man who bought "American Idol," Ali and Elvis.
"Look at what Bobby Sillerman from the Bronx has — God Bless America," Sillerman said. (Sale of EPE Archives, Source: CBS News, 18 July 2007)
Elvis Still Selling Elvis Best: Ever wonder how the marketing minds at Elvis Presley Enterprises keep the king's pop culture reign going nearly 30 years after his death?
"We just answer the phone," said Scott Williams, EPE marketing and communications director, in a presentation Wednesday to the Public Relations Society of America's Memphis chapter.
There is, of course, more than that to creating all those tie-ins -- Elvis and Budweiser, Elvis and Harley-Davidson, an all-Elvis channel on Sirius Satellite Radio-- that keep the singer's name, image and music prominent. It was all to make Williams' point that "Elvis sells Elvis better than anything we can do."
But just answering the phones at EPE must be a chore, because they apparently ring a lot.
"I think only 3 percent of the licensing applications get approved," Williams said. "One thing about EPE that's really great is, they really think through the planning of the products and promotions."
He highlighted one that made the cut -- a partnership with Hershey's that's led to limited-edition Reese's peanut butter and banana creme cups. Reese's also will be giving away a pink Cadillac and a trip to Graceland.
"They're also going to give away ... some checks that Elvis wrote -- that have been canceled," Williams said.
"This is what's so fun about working with brands like this -- they just have some great ideas."
Williams, during his address to the PR types, also put in a pitch for elvisweek.com. That's the Web site devoted to next month's 30th anniversary edition of Elvis Week. (Source: Commercial Appeal, 13 July 2007)
Butler pays $66,000 to settle Elvis case: A British-born butler who ran the beachside estate of a millionaire American entertainment mogul is paying $66,180 to settle charges that he used confidential information from his boss's office to trade on the stock market. Graham Lefford promoted himself as an old-style British gentleman's gentleman and has given interviews to the US media with tips on discretion and etiquette.
In a case brought last year, he was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of reading sensitive faxes sent to the 22,000 square foot country retreat of his employer, the American Idol creator Robert Sillerman, in the Long Island enclave of Southampton.
According to the charges, Mr Lefford discovered from private correspondence in 2004 that Mr Sillerman was about to use a publicly listed shell company, Sports Entertainment Enterprises, to buy the commercial rights to Elvis Presley's estate.The butler quietly made a personal investment of $600 in the company's shares - and turned a quick profit of $48,525 when the stock rocketed days later.
Although he has neither admitted nor denied the charges, Mr Lefford this week agreed to pay back profits of $31,450, interest of $3,280 and a penalty of $31,450.
The SEC said Mr Lefford had breached an "express duty of trust and confidence" enshrined in an agreement signed with Mr Sillerman when he became an employee.
Mr Lefford, who moved to America at the age of nine and became a US citizen, has previously described himself as one of only 25 "top-notch" butlers in the US. In a 2004 interview with the New York Sun, he said the first rule of being a butler was discretion - and he blasted the Princess of Wales's former butler Paul Burrell for his tell-all tendencies.
"You can't use what you overhear," he said. "It's a breach of trust. No exceptions. It's the code. I am hired to keep my mouth shut. It's what I'm paid for." (Source: Guardian Unlimited, 13 July 2007)
Elvis in the building...psychics reveal:Psychics have told Daytona Beach resident Jeffery Golden he is the reincarnation of Elvis Presley's twin brother, who died at birth. Saturday, judges will tell Golden and 19 other Elvis impersonators whether they have the right stuff to win the "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest." Read full story(Source: Daytona Beach News Online, 16 June 2007)
"Legends In Concert" show drops Elvis as headline act: Is EPE heading in the wrong direction with its Elvis stratefy? As EPE gears up on a steady diet of ETA competitions, the times are a changing elsewhere.
There's a different wrinkle to the latest edition of "Legends in Concert," which runs through June 28 at Resorts Atlantic City. For the first time in memory -- maybe the first time ever -- the popular musical mimic-fest is not anchored by an Elvis Presley impersonator. While there are sure to be some "Legends" devotees for whom this will be a major disappointment, it certainly doesn't detract from what is, overall, a typically strong program. In Elvis' stead is Cookie Watkins, whose turn as Tina Turner is filled with appropriate amounts of sass, sizzle and sex appeal.
Sporting a nest of blond hair and long legs accentuated by dangerously spiked heels, Watkins looks amazingly similar to the rhythm 'n' blues legend. She, likewise, delivers an excellent approximation of the pop 'n' soul diva's guttural vocal style on such songs as "What's Love Got To Do with It" and her late-'60s signature take on "Proud Mary." Two other acts, Steve McCoy and John Anthony, give Watkins a run for her money. (Almost Elvis, Source: Courier Post Online, 15 June 2007)
CKX agrees to Sillerman/Fuller buyout deal - future is real estate & location based attractions: The parent company of 19 Entertainment, CKX, has agreed to a $1.3 billion takeover deal from US tycoon Robert Sillerman and Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller.
CKX shareholders will get $13.75 per share in cash as well as shares in FX Luxury Realty, an affiliate of Sillerman that has real estate interests in Las Vegas.
The sale, through a merger with 19X, a private firm owned by Sillerman and Fuller, will be financed through a combination of equity and debt financing, with cash also coming from Sillerman and Fuller's own pockets.
As well as owning 19 Entertainment, CKX has exclusive talent deals with David and Victoria Beckham, Rachel Stevens, Will Young, Claudia Schiffer, Annie Lennox and Emma Bunton. The firm also owns a controlling interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises and owns certain rights to the names and images of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.
Commenting on the series of transactions, Mr. Sillerman said, "After two successful years of developing and exploiting the assets we have acquired, during which time we have seen tremendous year over year growth, we have come to realize that there is a substantial opportunity to capitalize on the Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali assets in real estate and location-based attractions. However, the pursuit of these opportunities would require a significant investment of capital, which could hinder our ability to grow the core area of our business and which is not consistent with the business plan that we have always described to our stockholders.
As a result, we thought it best to provide our stockholders a capital realization opportunity as well as the opportunity to participate in a new public company that will develop real estate and location-based projects that exploit CKX's iconic intellectual property content. We believe that the transactions that we announced today accomplish that goal."
Mr. Fuller added, "I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished and am looking forward so much to continuing to work with Bob building the amazing assets that we have in Idol, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and the Beckhams. I believe this transaction provides the best way to maximize the value we have created."
Also on June 1, 2007, CKX acquired 50 percent of FX Luxury Realty LLC for cash consideration of $100 million. The distribution by CKX to its stockholders of half of CKX's interests in FX Luxury Realty is a condition to the closing of the merger transaction.
Under the deal, FX Luxury Realty has signed licences to use certain intellectual property rights of CKX associated with Presley and Ali in the development of real estate and attraction-based projects. (Sale of EPE, Source: Digital Spy/Elites TV, 5 June 2007)
Elvis and Ali revive CKX: Shares of CKX, the owner of the “American Idol,” Muhammed Ali and Elvis Presley brands, including the operations of Graceland, were rocking Friday after the company agreed to a buyout by chief executive officer, Robert Sillerman, and Idol creator, Simon Fuller, for $1.3 billion.
Sillerman, the company’s biggest shareholder, and Fuller, the chief executive officer of 19 Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of CKX, made a proposal to the company’s board of directors to purchase the company’s outstanding stock for $13.75 a share in cash, a 29% premium over the stock’s closing price Thursday of $10.63.
Share of CKX skyrocketed $3.77, or 3547%, to $14.40 on Friday following the announcement of the deal.
Andrew Baker, an analyst with Cathay Financial, said Sillerman and Fuller’s offer to take the company private includes all the businesses CKX currently operates--19 Entertainment, the “Idol” television brand, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the likenesses, name, and image of both Muhammed Ali and Presley, and all other ancillary pieces. It also includes a proposed deal with Cirque du Soleil to develop an Elvis-themed project over the next 15 years.
At the same time, Baker said, the management team is putting other businesses into a new company, FX Luxury Realty, a CKX affiliate, which they bought half of this morning. FXLR has an interest in 17.7 acres of land on the Las Vegas strip and shares in Riviera Holdings (nasdaq: riv - news- people ), as well as the rights to future Elvis and Muhammed Ali-themed hotels, casinos, retreats and restaurants. “I have a high degree of confidence they will build something akin to an Elvis Heartbreak Hotel and Casino,” said Baker.
The company has a 45-day “go shop” period, Baker said, to see if someone will come in and make an offer to buy the company. One potential buyer, Baker speculated, was News Corp. (nyse: NWS - news - people ), which may want to own “American Idol,” instead of just licensing it from CKX, although they could always make an offer for “Idol” once the company becomes private. The other possibility is a real estate company since there are many Muhammed Ali and Elvis casino and hotel development options.
Ordinarily, when management makes a buyout, Baker said, they need a majority of the disinterested shareholders to approve. “That doesn’t appear to be the case here,” he said. “Unless someone comes in shareholders will not be given the opportunity to vote this down.”
Baker has an “outperform” rating on CKX and a price target of $18. “The likelihood of another buyer coming in is relatively limited,” he said. “But for every seller there’s a buyer. It’s an interesting bet. It will be a real estate play.” (News, Source: Ruthie Ackerman, Forbes.com, 1 June 2007)
Graceland kingdom expansion hinges on public funds - proposal dovetails with city plans to rejuvenate Whitehaven area: Elvis Presley's Graceland kingdom would be totally transformed -- the king's mansion aside -- in a $250 million improvement plan led by CKX Inc. chief executive Robert F.X. Sillerman.
There would be a new boutique convention hotel, a potential second hotel, a new visitors center, new attractions and new shops within five years -- provided local and state governments commit to an unidentified amount of funding, as Sillerman hopes will happen within the month.
"I think they recognize that we're blessed with an attraction like Graceland. There's really nothing like it in the world," Sillerman said Friday, after it was announced that publicly traded CKX is being taken private in a buyout he's leading. "With the kind of investment we're prepared to make, in partnership with the jurisdictions, we really could have a significant impact on the entire region. They recognize it and we're thrilled about it."
Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton also expressed optimism about the project, without specifically addressing the funding issue.
"This significant private investment will have a positive impact on the community as a whole, but it also dovetails into our existing efforts to further enhance the vitality of the Whitehaven community," Wharton said in a statement. "The company's commitment will facilitate our efforts to attract additional businesses and biomedical companies to the corridor and assist in the development of our aerotropolis strategy. We look forward to working with the company, other local officials and the people of the Whitehaven community to bring this plan to fruition."
On the city side, chief financial officer Robert Lipscomb referred questions about public funding to Mayor Willie Herenton. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. There have been ongoing talks between EPE and public officials, including a March meeting attended by Sillerman, Wharton, Herenton, Lipscomb, members of the Memphis Regional Chamber and Priscilla Presley.
Also, the City Council asked the Herenton administration to develop a plan for a Center City Commission-like board to oversee the redevelopment of the area, which includes Memphis International Airport and Brooks Road. Although plagued by decay, the area also is home to three of the city's key industries -- distribution and logistics, medical device manufacturing and tourism and entertainment.
"We need a lot of help from the community," said Jack Soden, Elvis Presley Enterprises CEO. "It wouldn't work to think in terms of this 100-acre campus and pouring a tremendous investment in here and just hoping things work out OK for Elvis Presley Boulevard and Whitehaven. It all has to be integrated -- the Brooks Road initiative, Elvis Presley Boulevard, the whole community. We want to be the catalyst for just a huge rebirth, redevelopment of the whole Whitehaven area."
Sillerman, asked if government funding is essential to his plan, said, "That's exactly right."
Sillerman paid $100 million for an 85-percent stake in EPE in a deal announced in December 2004. He vowed to transform what had been run as a "family business," using a "risk-oriented and expansive approach."
During a February 2006 visit to Memphis, Sillerman talked of doubling Graceland's total of 600,000 annual visitors and said the late King of Rock and Roll's home should "take its logical place as one of the great attractions in America, like Disneyland or Universal theme parks."
Toward that goal, EPE and affiliated companies have been gobbling up real estate, and now own or control more than 100 acres around the mansion. The companies have spent more than $13 million on property since January 2006, including a 182-unit apartment complex and former car dealership. Friday's announcement that CKX -- which also owns rights to the Muhammad Ali name and the "American Idol" TV show -- is going private could speed up the Memphis project.
That's because while CKX goes private, an affiliated company, FX Luxury Realty LLC, would pursue the Elvis-related real estate projects around Graceland -- as well a hotel and casino development in Las Vegas.
"It was frankly too big a project for a company like CKX," said Sillerman, who built billion-dollar entertainment empires with radio stations and concert promotions. "What we have created is an opportunity for the real estate development company to do that. Assuming we have appropriate cooperation from the city, county and state, this actually should speed up the regeneration, if you will, of the area surrounding Graceland." (Source www.commercialappeal.com/It's Elvis Time, 3 June 2007)
EPE organisation may again be privately owned: CKX, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKXE), announced today that it entered into a series of transactions that will result in the sale of the Company at a price of $13.75 per share in cash and the distribution to CKX stockholders of shares in FX Luxury Realty, LLC, an affiliate of Robert F.X. Sillerman that has significant real estate interests in Las Vegas and has entered into licenses to use certain intellectual property rights of CKX associated with Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali in the development of real estate and attraction based projects. Read full article(Source: EPE, 1 June 2007)
Reaction to Boulevard Souvenirs suing EPE: There has been a strong reaction to news of EPE apparently trying to force Boulevard Souvenirs out of business. Last year EPE did not renew the lease of Memories of Elvis/Carol's Gifts and Collectibles, another long established Elvis outlet opposite Graceland. This forced Carol to move premises away from Graceland and sadly she announced recently she is closing her doors for good.
Fans have vocal about the latest market move by EPE. From "stormtrooper tactics", bully boys", and "Graceland is Greedland", to "Sillerman Gecko" and "Disgraceland" (a term originally coined by Elvisly Yours' Sid Shaw), fans reaction has been far from positive.
EIN wonders what Elvis would make of all this. I think we all know the answer! (EIN Comment)
Boulevard Souvenirs suing EPE: A souvenir shop next door to Graceland accuses Elvis Presley Enterprises of federal monopoly violations, restraint of trade, conspiracy and tortious interference.
Boulevard Souvenirs, which has 13 years remaining on its lease on Elvis Presley Boulevard, claims co-defendant Carol Butler, vice president of international licensing for Elvis Presley Enterprises, has been trying to force it out of business for years.
Rick Roberts, who founded Boulevard in 2000, says vendors told him that in January this year that defendants demanded that licensees of Elvis products refuse to sell to anyone else within 5 miles of Graceland.
He cites a letter the defendants allegedly sent to vendors, saying the ostensible reason for this antitrust violation is to “prevent the commingling of Licensed Products with counterfeit goods”.
Unless vendors of licensed products signed the letter, Elvis Presley Enterprises threatened to terminate them, he says. Now all of his vendors have cut him off. He says he was grossing $1 million a year. He demands $13 million for 13 years of lost profits, and $26 million in punitive damages.
He is represented by Randall Songstad of Arlington, Tenn. (Source: Courthouse News/Elvis Express, 6 May 2007 )
CKX 2006 stock exchange return: The Robert Sillerman company responsible for things Elvis has submitted its 2006 Securities and Stock Exchange report. It makes very interesting reading and covers issues from revenues to the number of visitors to the official Elvis website. (Sale of EPE Archives, Source: Dr John Walker)
EPE, SOFA and Leiber & Stoller Awarded Damages in Lawsuit Against Elvis Documentary Producers: In what is considered a significant monetary judgment for copyright infringement lawsuits, the United States District Court in Los Angeles has awarded plaintiffs Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE), SOFA Entertainment, Inc. and songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller $2.8 million in damages and attorneys fees to be paid by Passport International Productions, Inc. (a/k/a Passport Video, Inc.) and its owner, Dante Pugliese.
The case began in 2002 when, without permission and against numerous express objections, Passport manufactured and sold a set of eight DVDs entitled "25th Anniversary Elvis: The Definitive Collection August 16, 1977 - August 16, 2002," otherwise entitled "The Definitive Elvis." The 16-hour set included copyrighted works and the rights of publicity owned by Plaintiffs. In reaching its decision, the Court agreed that Passport released the set with the full knowledge that Plaintiffs did not consent to the unauthorized use of their copyrighted material, and that their activities would mislead consumers and damage Plaintiffs. Passport appealed the case up to the 9th Circuit, claiming "Fair Use," arguing that the set was a documentary look at the life of Elvis Presley. The Court did not agree in a 2005 ruling, and the decision successfully delineated the limits of the Fair Use defense.
“This is a landmark decision for all of us,” stated Gary Hovey, Executive Vice President of Entertainment/Music Publishing for Elvis Presley Enterprises. “We are delighted with the Court’s ruling, the damages awarded and the precedent it sets.”
The copyrighted materials included Presley home movies owned by EPE, material from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and portions of “Ed Sullivan Rock & Roll Classics – Elvis Presley,” owned by SOFA Entertainment, a producer of movies, videos and television programs. Other unauthorized material was from the EPE owned “The Elvis 1968 Comeback Special (a/k/a "The Singer Special,”) “Aloha From Hawaii,” and “Elvis In Concert,” which also include songs written by Leiber & Stoller.
“It is reassuring to know that the courts have seen fit to uphold our copyrights thereby putting unscrupulous parties on notice that historic performances from ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ cannot be used by those who prefer to steal rather than to license,” commented Andrew Solt of SOFA Entertainment. “We are very pleased with the court’s informed decision.”
“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have always supported the ownership and protection of intellectual property,” said Randy Poe, President of Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing. “This ruling puts on notice anyone wishing to improperly claim ‘Fair Use,’ rather than acquiring permission from the copyright owner.”
George R. Hedges of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP successfully argued the case for the Plaintiffs. (Source: EPE, 16 Feb 2007)
EIN Note:The Definitive Elvis is the biggest selling Elvis DVD in Australia. It was the #1 selling Music DVD in 2002 and has been released in both ordinary and limited edition "Gold" editions.
Presley Publishing Now Exclusively With Cherry Lane: New York based indie Cherry Lane Music Publishing has been selected by Elvis Presley Enterprises, LLC and the estate of Julian Aberbach to administer their 75% share of their prestigious Elvis Presley catalogue. The catalogue contains over 1,000 songs recorded by Elvis Presley as well as other legendary singers of the time, including Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Cherry Lane had previously administered 25% of the catalogue on behalf of the estate of Jean Aberbach. The multi-year deal marks the first time since 2000 that the administration of the catalogue will be handled by one publisher, a scenario coveted by music licensees given the speed and efficiency of "one-stop" publishing.
In addition, Cherry Lane has committed to special promotions specific to the catalogue. These will include advertisements in Film, TV and advertising trades as well as delivery of songs to music supervisors on branded digital music players.
Phil Cialdella, Vice President, Administration and Licensing for Cherry Lane, notes "Representing this prestigious song catalogue has been a tremendous honor, and carries great responsibility. We look forward to further maximizing the exposure and accessibility of these legendary songs by consolidating and expediting the clearance process for music users. Everyone benefits, but the songs will benefit the most."
"All of us at EPE are looking forward to collaborating with Cherry Lane in promoting these catalogues filled with songs Elvis made popular," states Gary Hovey, Executive Vice-President of EPE. "We are very excited about working together to bring these great songs to new generations through the many new technologies we have today." (News, Source: EPE, 29 Jan 2007)
ELVIS AND CIRQUE STILL ON!!!: (see earlier stories below)Luxe Life is always happy to clear up misinformation when it comes to rampant rumors. We finally got word from Cirque officials about our story on Monday about the rumored breakup of the Elvis/Cirque du Soleil deal for their proposed joint 2009 show at City Center and we're happy to now tell you Elvis and Cirque are still together! Our friends at Cirque advised: "Regarding the Cirque du Soleil Elvis production at City Center, just to let you know all systems are go with that project, so the rumors you heard were incorrect." (News, Source: Vegas Pop, 25 Jan 2007)
Elvis - Cirque du Soleil partnership still on?: Brian Quinn responded to our story on 23 January saying his sources tell him the planned Elvis themed shows via Cirque du Soleil are still on. EIN earlier contacted EPE and is still waiting on an official response regarding the matter. (Source: Brian Quinn/EIN, 25 Jan 2007)
Plans for Elvis themed Cirque du Soleil show collapse?: Rumors are rampant around Vegas show-business circles this morning that the giant alliance between Cirque du Soleil and Robert FX Sillerman to launch an Elvis Presley show in the new MGM City Center, currently under construction, has collapsed.
Luxe Life will attempt to obtain official Cirque clarification this morning, but staffers learned over the weekend that the two producing entities had allegedly agreed to part company. Before the rumored shakeup and split, plans called for Cirque to develop the Elvis show for the 2009 opening of the three hotel-towered mega-city on 70-acres of land between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo hotels at center-Strip.
It has only been two weeks since public sales began on the residences at City Center. As of this weekend 1,500 reservations have been taken out of 2,700 total units. The sales staff has added 300 sales in just 14 days from the 1,200 that were snapped up opening weekend, indicating still strong demand for on-Strip condominium projects.
Cirque has been simultaneously developing a new magic show with 'Mindfreak' magician Criss Angel for the Luxor which Luxe Life will have all the latest details on Wednesday. Cirque director Gilles Ste-Croix confirmed the Elvis project to Luxe Life several months ago adding he also wanted to develop an ice-skating themed entertainment spectacular sometime in the future. (Source: Vegas Popular/Luxe Life, 23 Jan 2007)
EIN Comment: If this rumor is true it is major setback for EPE. A high profile show like Cirque du Soleil would have brought Elvis' music to new generations of fans. See also earlier story below dated 18 May 2006
Marketing Elvis difficult sell to today's youth: Teenagers in the 1950s and '60s went wild over Elvis Presley, much to the consternation of their parents, but kids in the new millennium aren't so stirred by rock 'n' roll's original rebel.
"I can't try to sell somebody Elvis who doesn't know who he is . . . that he's not just some guy who's been gone for 30 years," said Paul Jankowski, chief of marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
Next year, three decades after Presley's death, the multimillion-dollar Elvis business will try to connect with a new generation of teenage fans.
"Our opportunity demographic is really going to be 12 to 34 (years old), with a sweet spot around the 18-24 area," Jankowski said.
Early in Presley's career, teenagers gathered at jukeboxes or around turntables. But now the music has moved to the Internet, on sites like MySpace and YouTube. Next year more film clips, photos and other material from the vast Presley archives will be showing up online.
"We will take our My-Space page and we will focus on expanding our number of friends on My-Space, that kind of thing," Jankowski said. "There's all kinds of Elvis content on YouTube, things that we put up, things that fans put up."
MySpace is a social-networking site that lets visitors share photos and personal web pages. YouTube lets users post and share videos. Moving Elvis content online should be easy; making Elvis cool again will be more difficult. After all, for most kids, Elvis is the music of their parents' -- or grandparents' -- generation.
Aaron O'Connell, a 17-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va., said it could be tough to make Elvis relevant again.
"Probably in today's world, like, he wouldn't be as cool, but back then he probably was," said O'Connell, a high school junior. (Source: AP, 1 Jan 2007)
EPE announces new Elvis plans for the 30th Anniversary, 2007
New expanded Graceland Museum exhibit for 2007: In March 2007 a special exhibit of Elvis' stage costumes from 1969-1977 will open in the Graceland visitor center at the Sincerely Elvis Museum. This is an exhibition space that will feature a new themed exhibit each year. The permanent exhibits at Graceland relating the story of Elvis' career, also featuring a significant display of costumes, will remain. The special exhibit however will feature more than 50 additional Presley stage outfits, such as the famed "jumpsuits," with metal and rhinestone studding and matching capes, and others with elaborate embroidery. In addition, there will be related photographs, archival documents and performance footage. The special exhibit will be on display for two years. (Source: EPE/Sanja/EIN)
EPE announces plans to carry the Elvis phenomenon to even greater heights in the new millennium: With younger and younger audiences discovering Elvis and the number of projects planned for 2007, the King of Rock & Roll continues to entertain with a career reaching new generations. The anniversary year begins with the January 8 celebration of his birthday at Graceland and continues through Elvis Week 2007 in August, which promises to be the largest ever.
Nearly thirty years ago on August 16, 1977, legendary entertainer Elvis Presley died at age 42. At the start of his career, his unique, instinctive, natural blending of pop, country, gospel and R&B music, presented with his charismatic and then-provocative style, touched off a revolution in music and popular culture. Today, his influence still reverberates and his presence seems more ubiquitous than ever. There are at least 400 active independent Elvis fan clubs around the globe and on the Internet there are hundreds of Web sites devoted to interest in the superstar in addition to the official site, Elvis.com. In recent years, Elvis CD and DVD releases have topped the sales charts in territories around the world. Today, licensing activity for official Elvis products and ventures is at an all-time high. Recently Atlantic Monthly magazine published the results of its poll of ten eminent historians to name the 100 most influential figures of American history. Elvis Presley is one of only a handful of entertainment artists to make the list.
Graceland Mansion welcomes over 600,000 visitors per year - half of them today are age 35 and under. In 2006, the Graceland staff played host to President George Bush and avowed Elvis fan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, an event that generated extensive media coverage everywhere. Also in 2006, Graceland Mansion, the most famous home in America after The White House, was designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of the fact that Elvis Presley lived there.
Now, EPE Inc. and CKX, Inc., along with their collaborators, licensees and venture partners, are preparing for a full and exciting year of activity in 2007, the 30th Anniversary of Elvis' passing, which is expected to help carry the Elvis phenomenon to even greater heights. It begins with the Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration at Graceland in January, follows through with special DVD and CD releases and special official products from licensees, and crescendos in August with what is expected to be the biggest of all the annual Elvis Week celebrations to date.
DVD and CD Releases: Currently on the global market as the 30th Anniversary year is about to dawn are the Summer 2006 single-disc concert releases Elvis: '68 Comeback - Special Edition DVD and Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Special Edition DVD, which are follow-ups to the 2004 smash hit release of deluxe box sets of material shot for these programs, and the November 2005 release Elvis - The Ed Sullivan Shows, a three-disc DVD set containing in their entirety the three Ed Sullivan Show episodes in which Elvis appeared. Completed and in limited release in 2006 are the single-disc DVD Elvis Lives - The 25th Anniversary Concert and the DVD box set Elvis: The Ultimate Movie Collection - Graceland Edition, both of which will see their full retail rollout in early 2007. Anticipated for 2007 are upgraded DVD re-releases and first-time DVD releases of a roster of Elvis Presley movies. In the summer of 2007, EPE is set to release an all-new and expanded edition of its popular DVD, Elvis Presley's Graceland - The Official Tour DVD.
TV Land: Throughout August 2007, the TV network will pay tribute to Elvis featuring his movies, televisions specials and other programming, including material from Elvis: '68 Comeback - Special Edition DVD and Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Special Edition DVD. "Elvis Month" on TV Land will be complemented by an off-air promotional campaign.
Graceland's Silver & Gold Anniversary and More: The year 2007 marks not only the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, but also the 25th anniversary of the opening of Graceland Mansion for public tours and the 50th anniversary of Presley's purchase of his famed home. Elvis bought Graceland in March of 1957 and it opened to the public in June of 1982. In addition to the aforementioned new Graceland Tour DVD release, commemorating this dual anniversary will be the enormously popular artist Thomas Kinkade, who will unveil his special painting of Graceland Mansion and release limited edition prints, which will be available in both canvas and paper. The painting will be unveiled in a special event at Graceland in March 2007, approximately one year after Graceland was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Elvis 30th Anniversary Harley-Davidson: In January 2007, Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley-Davidson® motorcycles - the preferred brand of cycle enthusiast Elvis Presley - will open a permanent exhibition across the street from Graceland. The company will also introduce the design of a limited edition of thirty Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be specially customized in tribute to Elvis for the 30th Anniversary year. Construction on each of the thirty bikes will commence as each advance order comes in. All are scheduled for completion in the summer and purchasers will be given the option of attending a special ceremony at Graceland in August during Elvis Week 2007 to pick up their custom Elvis Harley-Davidsons. The design will be completed and unveiled in early 2007.
Elvis Week 2007 in Memphis: Tens of thousands of fans are expected to make the 30th Anniversary edition the biggest Elvis Week to date. Along with the traditional Candlelight Vigil at Graceland, key events are the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, the first-ever official Elvis tribute artist contest presented by EPE, and Elvis: The 30th Anniversary Concert starring the real Elvis Presley via video technology, accompanied live on stage by an orchestra and a large cast of his original concert musicians and back-up singers. Elvis Week 2007, set for August 11-19, will include approximately four-dozen entertainment, social, sports and charity events. The 30th Anniversary Concert, to be staged at FedExForum in Memphis on August 16, is already over 70% sold out even though there has not been an actual press release to announce the concert and the first concert advertisement has yet to run.
The full roster of Elvis Week 2007 events presented by EPE and by participating organizations is still being planned. A continuously updated calendar of events can be found on Elvis.com or one can go directly to the calendar through the address ElvisWeek.com. (Source: EPE December 2006)
Sun Entertainment posts 2006 profit: Sun Entertainment Holding Corporation (Pink Sheets: SETHF) is pleased to report earnings of $158,966 or $0.013 per share for the quarter ending September 30, 2006. Earnings for the quarter ending September 30, 2005 were $75,261 or $0.006 per share.
Earnings for the nine month period ending September 30, 2006 were a record $676,053 or $0.057 per share compared to $241,618 or $0.02 per share for the same period of 2005.
Revenues for the quarter ending September 30, 2006 were $528,097 compared to $415,853 for the same period of 2005. Revenues for the nine month period ending September 30, 2006 were $2,155,323 compared to $1,322,902 for the same period of 2005.
The majority of the revenues are generated from Sun's catalogue of over 8,000 master recordings. The Company has been working to expand its merchandising of Sun logo products. In October, Sun announced that it had entered into a licensing agreement with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. for the use of its trademarks in the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley together with the Sun Records logo. Sun is working on a broad range of Sun/Elvis retail products, the first of which are expected to be available for retail sales in the first quarter of 2007. (Source: MSN Money, 16 Dec 2006)
EPE ETA competition sparks mixed response: Reaction to the news we broke yesterday about EPE sanctioning an Elvis impersonators contest has been mixed. We have received more than 20 messages with some fans criticising the move as they feel many ETAs are not professional enough and seeing it as a cynical move to end the long running Images of the King contest which has regional heats, and climaxes each August in Memphis during Elvis Week. Others see it as an opportunity to further broaden the Elvis icon to the mainstream audience. EIN understands EPE's interest in producing the ETA competition, but in our view a competition based solely around Elvis is too narrow to be a major success. But time will tell. (17 Nov 2006)
EPE announces Elvis reality TV show: Although the official press release is a few hours away, the big news today is that the ultimate Elvis tribute artist contest, produced by CKX/EPE, is going ahead. More details shortly. (Source: Eyewitness News Memphis, 16 Nov 2006)
Still betting on Elvis?: Financial analyst Hillary Kramer says: You can never go wrong with the King, and I'm still betting big on this one. Back in April, I picked CKX Inc. (NASDAQ: CKXE) as a double-your-money pick, opining that it might almost quadruple from around $14 to $50 by the end of 2007. If you followed my advice, you might be pretty disappointed so far. The stock continues to trade at around $14. If it's any consolation, I put quite a bit of my own money into CKX -- and I still hold the stock today.
I still believe this one is going to improve. Media and entertainment businesses are always risky, but I believe in CEO Bob Sillerman, who has already revolutionized the radio and the concert businesses. I think he has the right idea to build the company around a few phenomenally recognizable brands, (heard of American Idol? Heard of Elvis Presley?) and to leverage those brands through his other holdings. Anyone who follows the film industry knows the 80/20 model prevails there -- that is, 20% of movies make a lot of money and pay for the 80% that don't. The same thing is happening in the book industry. It's the nature of media today, and I think Sillerman understands this dynamic as well as anyone. He also understands that "content is king" -- it's what his company name stands for -- and that in a rapidly-shifting world of delivery options (Netflix? Movies on demand? iTunes on your cell phone?), if you control the content, you'll make money no matter how it's delivered. And in the meantime, Sillerman keeps hustling -- he's still working to come up with a new reality show, expand the "American Idol" franchise, and cross-promote his vast holdings.
For now, revenues for the first three quarters of 2006 are 50% higher than the whole of 2005, and his operating income keeps growing as well. I may have been wrong about how quickly this would grow, but I still think it's going to be a winner.
Type of stock: A media conglomerate based on a few large brands -- including the legendary Elvis Presley -- run by legendary media mogul Bob Sillerman.
Price target: I still think this one is going to make you big returns on your money. At $14 now, the stock can still hit $50 by the end of 2007. I am betting on Elvis and I am betting on the track record of one of the best entrepreneurs and operators in the country. (Source: Hillary Kramer, AOL, 16 Nov 2006)
Priscilla defends sale of EPE: ELVIS PRESLEY's widow PRISCILLA has defended her decision to sell a massive stake in her late husband's Memphis, Tennessee estate, insisting the sale was hugely beneficial to Graceland's welfare. Presley sold 85 per cent of Elvis Presley Enterprises - which included rights to the rock legend's name and image - to entertainment investment agency CKX in February last year (05) but is keen to point out not much has changed since the takeover. She says, "Graceland is Graceland. We still have the same staff we've always had and it's still owned by my daughter, LISA MARIE.
"We partnered with CKX, who came in and acquired the licensing to the name and image of Elvis.
"What that means is they are able to take us to a place we could not have gone as a private company." (Source: PR Inside, 9 Nov 2006)
EPE announces first-ever Chief Marketing Officer: Memphis-based Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE), a subsidiary of CKX, Inc. has named Paul Jankowski as its first-ever Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing all aspects of global brand development. He most recently served as President of Access Marketing Services, a company he founded that provides brand development services in the corporate, entertainment and sports businesses.
In his new position, Jankowski will work with all EPE departments to develop a consistent brand message and educate and excite the next generation on the Elvis legacy. He will be based in the EPE Memphis headquarters and report to CEO and President, Jack Soden.
“We are very excited about Paul joining our team,” stated Soden. “The Elvis business continues to grow and thrive, and now that EPE is part of the CKX family, the opportunities have multiplied. Paul’s extensive experience in many different areas makes him uniquely qualified for our company, and a good fit with our current stellar marketing, sales and communications team.”
"There are jobs and then there is Elvis,” commented Jankowski. “The opportunity to introduce the greatest entertainer of all time to the next generation was impossible to pass up. And as an alum of SFX, the commitment CKX has to the Elvis brand and the chance to work with Bob Sillerman again, make this a truly exciting adventure. “
Jankowski served as Vice President of Media Marketing for SFX Entertainment, a firm started by CKX, Inc. Chairman and CEO Robert Sillerman. SFX/Clear Channel Communications is the largest producer of live entertainment in the world, producing over 26,000 events per year. He created and sold marketing programs for many advertisers including: Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co., Warner-Lambert and MCI, and has created promotions for a variety of artists and pro athletes including: Beyonce, Evander Holyfield Destiny's Child, Nelly, Anthony Carter, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, , Tim McGraw Travis Tritt, Amy Grant, Elton John, Tom Petty, B.B. King, Mary J. Blige, Bell Biv DeVoe, Jodeci, Shai and Meatloaf.
Following SFX, he served as Executive Vice President and directed all sales and marketing activity for HOST Communications' Affinity and Events Division. The properties included the NCAA (Final Four, etc.), Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association, NBA's Hoop It Up, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, American Bicycle Association, Historically Black Collegiate Coalition, and high school marketing arm, iHigh, among others.
Before SFX Entertainment, he was Vice President/Marketing for Trifecta Entertainment, a fully integrated Public Relations, Marketing and Artist Management agency. Clients included Tanya Tucker, Country Music Television (CMT), United Distillers (various brands), Opryland, Sony Music and Fruit of the Loom. Prior to that, Jankowski was the Director of Entertainment Relations/Worldwide for Gibson Guitar Corporation, where he directed all marketing efforts for Gibson's national and international divisions.
Jankowski began his music industry career with CBS Records in the company’s college department, followed by serving as a regional pop promotion manager for MCA Records - Los Angeles and SBK Records-New York, in the company's Nashville office.
Jankowski is a graduate of the 1995-96 Leadership Music program. Originally from Memphis, he graduated from the University of Tennessee/Knoxville with a degree in Advertising, while serving as publicity/marketing manager for Thompson-Boling Arena, the nation's largest on-campus arena. (Source: EPE/Charmaine Voisine, 3 Oct 2006)
Insider trading in purchase of EPE: Regulators say they have solved an insider trading mystery: It was the butler in the poolside office with the fax machine.Graham Lefford was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday of illegally trading on confidential information that he gleaned in 2004 from his boss's $100 million purchase of a controlling stake of the rights to Elvis Presley's image and likeness. Read full story(News/Sale of EPE, Source: International Herald Tribune/Sanja Meegin, 28 Sep 2006)
Graceland character to remain despite overhaul: A massive overhaul to the Graceland complex that was announced last winter is still in the works, but "there's no specific timetable set," said Kevin Kern, spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Media mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman got control of the late singer's name and likeness in 2005 after paying out $100 million, according to a story in The New York Times. In March he announced plans to overhaul Graceland, which receives about 600,000 visitors annually, into a destination that would attract many more patrons.
In particular, plans to tear down the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel and replace it with an entertainment complex, two 400-room hotels and restaurants, is still on the drawing board, said Kern.
But don't expect the shag carpeting in the mansion's Jungle Room to be taken up and replaced with hardwood floors, the spokesman said.
"The house is a national landmark. You don't make changes like that. You don't change a national landmark,'' said Kern. "There's always the process of maintaining a place, but that doesn't mean you have to make changes. You clean it up. You trim the trees and change out plants, but you don't change the house. Graceland mansion will always be like it was." (Source: Dickson Herald, 3 July 2006)
CKX enters into new credit deal: CKX Inc., which produces the American Idol TV show, said Thursday it entered into a $125 million revolving credit agreement with several lenders. The revolving credit facility is led by Bear Stearns & Co. and includes UBS Securities LLC, The Bank of New York, Lehman Commercial Paper Inc. and Credit Suisse. The new facility will replace the company's previous $50 million facility, which the company said it has not drawn on. The available loan pool could help the company finance acquisitions and joint ventures, said Robert F.X. Sillerman, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.
CKX, aside from owning the company that produces American Idol, also owns a 85 percent stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., which licenses the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley, as well as operates Graceland. Shares of its stock fell 33 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $12.56 in afternoon trading on 25 May on the Nasdaq. (Source: AP, 25 May 2006)
EPE softens stance on ETA's: Elvis impersonators can relax: No one's coming after their bespangled jumpsuits.At least not anytime soon." It's not even on the radar screen right now," said Robert F.X. Sillerman, the head of the entertainment company that owns the legal rights to Elvis Presley's name. CKX Inc. took control of Elvis Presley Enterprises last year, and Sillerman wondered aloud in a recent interview with The New York Times if the company should do something about "unauthorized Elvis impersonators."
That shook up the pompadoured crowd of impersonators in Memphis, Las Vegas, London and elsewhere around the world, and since then Sillerman has backed off a bit." The only comment I have made about the future of Elvis impersonators was simply an answer to a reporter's hypothetical question," Sillerman said in a statement from his New York headquarters." In truth, the issue is not something we at CKX are actively looking into." Impersonators still worry about an uncertain future.
"Nobody seems to have any answers," said Ed "Doc" Franklin, founder of "Images of the King," one of the oldest and best-known Elvis impersonator contests. Held in Memphis for five straight days on the anniversary of Presley's death at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977, it attracts contestants of all ages, races, nationalities, even sex." It's such a worldwide thing, you can't just jump out there and say, `Hey, wait a minute. You can't do this anymore, boys.' It would be like a big revolt," said Franklin, a retired veterinarian who took care of Presley's horses and other pets.
Elvis Presley Enterprises, the former business arm of Presley's estate, has a long and successful history of shutting down interlopers trying to horn in on its business. But most of those battles focused on trinket or souvenir hawkers, and the impersonators, who like to call themselves "tribute artists," were largely left alone. The impersonators could be embarrassing at times, but Presley fans enjoyed having them around, and shutting them down for violating the estate's publicity rights would be tricky. It's one thing to tell a souvenir maker to quit putting Elvis' face on coffee mugs, but it's something quite different to shut down a singer because he favors white jumpsuits, rhinestones and sideburns." It's entertainment, which has traditionally been accorded a wide scope of protection," said Roberta Kwall, a DePaul University law professor and specialist on publicity rights.
If an impersonator includes a bit of his own style in his act, it becomes an interpretation - or even a parody - rather than a mere copy of Presley's work." It's a bit of a moving target," Kwall said. Matt Lewis, an impersonator who has toured the world and now performs 12 times a week at the Imperial Palace casino in Las Vegas, says CKX would be hurting itself if it went after Elvis acts." Elvis impersonators drive the popularity of Elvis," Lewis said." We get new fans all the time, which sells merchandise, sells CDs, which promotes Elvis' name. People don't go out and buy my T-shirt after the show - they get an Elvis T-shirt somewhere." Lewis works for one of the few licensed Elvis acts around, the "Legends in Concert" show owned by Las Vegas-based Onstage Entertainment Inc.
Onstage CEO Tim Parrott said his company signed an agreement with the Elvis estate in 1995 authorizing the use of an impersonator. A crackdown on unlicensed Elvises could help the company, he said." If they start closing other people down, we'll be the survivor," he said.Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie, and her Elvis Presley Enterprise sold the rights to her father's name to CKX last year along with Graceland's souvenir shops and museums for about $100 million in cash and stock. She retained title to the house itself, but CKX controls it, too, through a 90-year lease. Elvis Presley Enterprises became a subsidiary of CKX, which also owns the "American Idol" TV show, a Hollywood talent-management company and most of the marketing rights to boxer Muhammad Ali's name and likeness. Michael Hoover, a professional Elvis impersonator who took over the "Images of the King" contest two years ago, said he is a little concerned but expects the show to continue.
"If it comes down to somebody saying you can't wear that wig or you can't wear that shirt or you can't sing that song, that will upset a lot of people," he said. "You would see some really serious reaction from the impersonators." (Source: http://tinyurl.com/o7vv9/ Charmaine Voisine, 20 May 2006)
CKX and Cirque du Soleil to Develop Elvis Presley Shows and ''Experiences'' Worldwide - The Elvis World Tour Kicks Off in 2008: CKX, Inc., through its subsidiary Elvis Presley Enterprises, has entered into an exclusive arrangement with Cirque du Soleil for the creation, development, production and promotion of Elvis Presley Projects, featuring touring and permanent shows, as well as multimedia interactive "Elvis Experiences," throughout the world.
Elvis Presley Projects, expected to debut beginning in 2008, will consist of:
Touring shows that will be produced by Cirque du Soleil and incorporate the name, image, likeness and music of Elvis Presley.
Permanent shows at fixed locations that will be produced by Cirque du Soleil and incorporate the name, image, likeness and music of Elvis Presley.
Multimedia interactive entertainment "Elvis Experiences" that incorporate the music, memorabilia, audiovisual works, and the life and times of Elvis Presley.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and CEO of CKX, Inc., commented, "This arrangement will allow fans around the globe, who have only seen Elvis Presley in movies or listened to his music, to truly experience what it was like to see Elvis perform. Cirque du Soleil remains one of the most stunning and exciting entertainment experiences on the planet and brings the creative genius needed to produce shows and multimedia events that will capture the true Elvis Presley."
Guy Laliberte, Founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, commented, "This new arrangement, with such incredible new partners as Robert F.X. Sillerman and his team, promises to be a most exciting and stimulating creative project for Cirque du Soleil. It also clearly demonstrates our intention to pursue the diversification of our artistic content through different live productions."
CKX and Cirque du Soleil will each own 50 percent of each Elvis Presley Project, sharing equally in the costs of creating, developing, building and producing each project and in the profits from each Project. CKX will also receive royalty payments on various aspects of its intellectual property used in the Elvis Presley Projects.
The parties have agreed to open at least one touring show in Europe and/or Asia and one "Elvis Experience" outside of the United States by 2008. Beginning in 2009, at least one Elvis Presley Project will be opened in each of the next six years. Beginning in 2014, at least one Elvis Presley Project will be opened every two years during the next eight years, through 2021. Shows in Las Vegas are not included in this arrangement at this time.
EIN Comment: This announcement is arguably the most important news since CKX bought an interest in EPE. If successful the venture will be a key driver in ensuring Elvis' legacy is publicly exposed and appreciated for the next 15 years. (18 May 2006, Source: EPE/CKX)
EPE net profit revealed: According to Forbes magazine, Elvis earned $US45 million ($A59 million) in 2004. Mr Sillerman has since boosted his income by $US5.5 million with the release of a two-hour television and DVD documentary. What Forbes magazine doesn't reveal, but Mr Sillerman's annual reports do, is that the Presley business has expenses (in 2005) of $40 million, meaning Elvis only cleared $US10.5 million last year. (Source: The Age, 29 April 2006)
Sillerman has no control over ETAs outside the US: According to a report on MSNBC, 'Robert Sillerman has no control over Elvis impersonators in foreign countries. His new rule only applies to the US ones'. (Source: Amber Smith, 27 April 2006)
ETA crackdown sparks newspaper editorials: The potential move by Robert Sillerman to regulate or licence ETAs continues to occupy hard copy and online media news space. A number of newspaper editorials also have been devoted to the subject. The 'Daily News' in Australia included these clever words in its editorial on 20 April 2006:
"...They probably have been holed up in heartbreak hotels, staring up at a blue moon and thinking why won't people "treat me nice"...No doubt they would definitely prefer a little less conversation on this matter. They are being told to back off by the big boss man or they might end up doing a little bit of jailhouse rock. But rather than get too stressed about this US billionaire, the Daily News reckons all Elvises should simply wait for a warning letter and then mark it "return to sender". Than you, thank you very much." (Source: Daily News, 20 April 2006)
Kiwi Elvis impersonators "all shook up": Kiwi Elvis impersonators could be in for more of a lawsuit than a jumpsuit if the gyrating one's impersonators are outlawed by an American businessmen. News that a media entrepreneur, Robert Sillerman, has bought the rights to Elvis's name and likeness has impersonators across America all shook up. Last year, Sillerman took an 85 per cent stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises, and has since claimed that some clones have made the burning hunk o' love more of a laughing stock than the king of rock.
The news has rippled through New Zealand's tiny Elvis impersonator community, leaving some with suspicious minds. Brian Childs, a full-time Elvis impersonator and former policeman, is glad he has decided to move into real estate sales next month. When The Press spoke to Childs yesterday, the Wellington-based Elvis impersonator was performing at a fundraiser for Golden Bay High School. On hearing an American billionaire could be giving all Elvises the boot, Childs said he was extremely disappointed.
"Lisa-Marie and Priscilla could've done this years ago but they chose not to. They were keeping the name and the music alive. This is just a big commercial arrangement and I don't have the money to fight a billionaire. "In America, people can make a huge living out of impersonating Elvis. In New Zealand, it's more of a passion and a hobby."
Childs' act focuses on the 1968 to 1973 Elvis era, from the sleek black suits to the jewelled jumpsuit phase. Christchurch impersonators come in the form of odd-job Elvises and singing telegrams.
Occasional Elvis impersonator and Christchurch entertainer Pat Kearns said he was not too worried about the possible ban. He felt he was getting a bit long in the tooth for the likeness to be similar. "But from a distance the illusion is quite good," he said.
Kearns said the real King, with trademark accessories of dark glasses and rhinestone jumpsuits, made it easier to be impersonated because no matter how dissimilar their facial features, they could always be disguised. Court Jesters, a Christchurch theatre group who occasionally provide Elvis-shaped singing telegrams, were shocked by the notion of an Elvis ban. Manager Kirsty Gillespie said the idea was a nonsense. (Source: stuff.co.nz, 21 April 2006)
Law professor comments on possible move to register ETAs in Australia: Associate Professor of Law at Melbourne University, Andrew Kenyon, who specialises in copyright law, said it was unlikely unauthorised Elvis impersonators could be stopped in Australia. "The law's approach to protecting an image varies quite a lot between the UK, US and Australia,'' he said. "There is not a specific area of law that applies to it (in Australia). There might be certain registered intellectual property rights that could apply. There might be things like defamation. There might also be commercial actions related to passing off or deceptive conduct. "If you could have a mix of those then that might apply." (Source: Amber Smith, 19 April 2006)
Festival organisers "all shook up" by ETA registration talk: The organisers of the Parkes Elvis Festival in the central west of NSW are seeking legal advice about changes to the rules surrounding Elvis Presley impersonators. An American billionaire who owns the rights to the Elvis name and likeness is working to stop "unauthorised" impersonators as part of a plan to open a show and exhibit in Las Vegas dedicated to 'the king'.
More than 5,000 people travel to Parkes each year to see hundreds of Elvis look-a-likes and celebrate his music. The festival's Monique Kronk says very few details about the shake-up are known but organisers want to ensure it will not threaten the event.
"We've got to discuss not just how it affects the festival itself but ... who are coming in and we don't know quite yet enough about what they are planning to change," she said. "But obviously we'll have to speak to Elvis Presley Enterprises and maybe we can negotiate some sort of licence that will cover for the whole festival - festival goers coming - we don't know enough yet about the situation." (Source: Amber Smith)
ETA's ready to revolt against Sillerman (EIN Comment): Recent reports that Robert Sillerman may 'register' Elvis tribute artists (ETAs), has ETA's around the world ready to mobilise. In Australia, TV news reports today indicate ETAs are preparing a series of concerts in opposition to the perceived Sillerman move and annual Elvis festivals are seeking clarification on what is planned.
The offending statement was made in reference to his planned Las Vegas cabaret show based around Elvis. Sillerman said:
"If we were going to do a show that was based on Elvis impersonators, then obviously it wouldn't make sense to have unauthorised Elvis impersonators."
On the surface Sillerman's statement refers only to an EPE sponsored show, but the use of the word "unauthorised" raises the spectre of ETA's having to be approved by EPE if they want to go on performing. The $64,000 question (with a really easy answer) is whether any move to register ETAs is about ensuring quality performances or simply revenue raising? Obviously, Sillerman is looking for quick ways to recoup his substantial investment in the Elvis brand.
To ensure a better overall ETA performance will never work. The reality is the majority of ETAs work either on an irregular, casual basis or even an itinerant basis, and many come and go regularly from the marketplace. Only a small percentage manage to make a full-time living as an ETA.
The financial cost of administering a scheme to improve the ETA product simply won't work, even just in the US, and as many will be quick to state, this is not what the possible Sillerman move is arguably about. Not to mention, how do you decide what is in good taste, or professional, and what isn't?
With an estimated 30,000 ETAs worldwide, Sillerman will face a logistical and legal nightmare should registration be a real issue on his mind. The Elvis trademark is yet to be fully tested outside US borders (the EPE vs Elvisly Yours/Sid Shaw case in England was a mixed result). Perhaps, after nearly 30 years of unrestrained and variable performances by ETAs, they will be the focus for testing if the Elvis trademark is recognised globally as a legal right. (Source: EIN/ABC News/ Various Others, 18 April 2006)
Sillerman buys marketing rights to Muhammad Ali: Robert Sillerman, whose CKX company owns marketing rights to the Elvis brand, Graceland operation and American Idol, has now acquired the rights to the likeness, name and image for Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight boxing champion who became the most famous athlete of his generation, won his biggest purse 25 years after retiring from the ring.
The boxer, who retired in 1981, sold the rights to his likeness, name and image for $50 million to CKX Inc., which also controls Elvis Presley's music and mansion and produces the "American Idol'' television show.
The deal gives the company rights to the "most powerful brand in sport,'' said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marking Center at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
"It may not be that it's been as commercially exploited as some of the modern names you might think of,'' he said. "Ali comes from a different era. He's a cultural phenomenon as much as a sports phenomenon.''
CKX Chief Executive Officer Robert Sillerman said the company will be selective about its deals and will likely search for opportunities outside the U.S.
"This is different than a licensing deal with Elvis Presley,'' Sillerman said in a telephone interview. ``It's appropriate and it's consistent with Elvis that there are over 100-plus licensees. That will not be the case with Muhammad Ali. That's not where the power of this is.'' (News, Source: Bloomberg, 12 April 2006)
EPE statement on future of Graceland et al: The EPE site has published a statement regarding plans for the future of Graceland, the surrounding area, Heartbreak Hotel, and possible tours of the upstairs part of the mansion. Not surprisingly, at this stage, there is no mention of the future of Elvis tribute artists. (Source: EPE, 16 March 2006)
Are Elvis tribute artists an endangered species?: The new owner of the Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas is concerned about a possible ban on Elvis impersonators. Brendan Paul not only owns the Chapel, but he is a veteran Elvis impersonator. It seems that Robert F.X. Sillerman owns the rights to control Elvis' name and likeness. He is planning a major Elvis presence in Las Vegas and told the New York Times he has not decided the fate of the Elvis Impersonators.
The founder and creator of "Legends in Concert" believes it would be impossible to put a stop to the impersonators. John Stuart said, "You've got 20,000 Elvis impersonators out there. He could never stop all of them. Besides there is First Amendment protection." Years ago, Stuart paid Elvis Presley Enterprises $100,000 for the right to use "Elvis" in his lineup.
Another local impersonator, Steve Connolly, stated that he did 700 shows his first year in Las Vegas. Top impersonators are said to make over $300,000 a year. No way are they going away without a fight.
So if your dream wedding is to be married by "Elvis," then you might want to book your flights and exchange your vows before Sillerman takes the dream away. (Source: Amber Smith, 8 March 2006)
EPE's Heartbreak Hotel to be demolished!:The New York Times reports that the 'Heartbreak Hote', across from Graceland, l will be demolished and Elvis' presence will return to Las Vegas. The news report includes:
"The 128-room Heartbreak Hotel, which stands across Elvis Presley Boulevard from Graceland, will be demolished, along with the visitors center. In their place, Mr. Sillerman plans two 400-room hotels, convention space, an entertainment complex, restaurants, shops, an outdoor amphitheater and a spa.
Moreover, if Mr. Sillerman has his way, Elvis will become a big presence again in Las Vegas, in an interactive museum exhibit and Elvis theme show that Mr. Sillerman hopes will attract millions of visitors a year. Tapping Elvis's international popularity is next: Mr. Sillerman envisions a 15,000-square-foot exhibit that will travel around the world". (Source: New York Times/EPE, 7 Mar 2006)
Sillerman to capitalize on global fascination with Elvis: Capitalizing on the ever-growing national and international fascination with Elvis Presley, CKX, Inc. which controls Elvis Presley Enterprises and substantially all assets comprising the Presley estate -- has held meetings with prominent Memphis, Tennessee officials to explore ways to expand upon and further promote the legacy of the King of Rock and Roll.
With Graceland already the most visited private residence in America, the discussions have focused on CKX's desire to grow the Graceland experience as the centerpiece of the Whitehaven section of Memphis. While plans and designs have not been finalized, CKX outlined significant aspects of the proposal to officials.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CKX, commented, "As we are upon the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's explosion into our culture, it is only fitting that Graceland assumes an even more prominent role in American culture and tourism." Working in conjunction with Bob Weis Design Island Associates, a world-renowned design firm, the goal is to enhance the visitor's experience in the area surrounding Graceland while preserving the integrity of the original mansion. "For years, Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Presley family have envisioned a project like this," said Jack Soden, Chief Executive Officer of Elvis Presley Enterprises. "We are thrilled to be able to move this concept forward."
Sillerman added, "To date, Elvis's fans have only seen a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Elvis artifacts currently warehoused. We're thrilled that beginning next month, with the Elvis '56 and Elvis After Dark exhibits and continuing through the proposed expansion, fans will have the opportunity to view more and more of this never-before-seen array of items."
The Elvis '56 exhibit is part of Graceland's year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the year Elvis Presley's career exploded and the music and popular culture of the world changed forever. The exhibit highlights his historic television appearances, his memorable concerts, his first mega-hit recordings, his first movie, the introduction of the big business of Elvis merchandising, and the first home his success allowed him to purchase for his family.
The Elvis After Dark exhibit is themed around that fact that, for much of his life, Elvis Presley was a "night person." After the sun went down, he'd go on after-hours shopping sprees at department stores; rent out the Memphis Fairgrounds as his own personal amusement park; turn the Memphian movie theater into a private screening room for himself and his friends; host parties at home and at local clubs; or schedule late-night appointments with his jeweler. In short, he made Memphis his nighttime playground.
About CKX: CKX, Inc., a company controlled by Robert F.X. Sillerman and affiliates, is engaged in the ownership, development and commercial utilization of entertainment content. To date, CKX has focused on acquiring globally recognized entertainment content and related assets, including the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley and the operations of Graceland. CKX has also acquired proprietary rights to the IDOLS television brand, including the American Idol series in the United States and local adaptations of the IDOLS television show format which, collectively, air in over 100 countries around the world. CKX plans to continue to make strategic acquisitions of, or partner or align with, companies or individuals that control various forms of established entertainment content, which may include intellectual property rights in music, film, television programming, written works and characters, rights to names, images and likenesses, video games, corporate brands and other related assets For more information about CKX, Inc., visit its corporate website at http://www.ckx.com. (Source: EPE/PR Newswire, 24 Feb 2006)
Billionaire mogul has 'big plans' for Graceland: Robert F.X. Sillerman, the billionaire media mogul who owns a controlling stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises, wants to transform Graceland into an international attraction on par with Disneyworld and double the 600,000 visitors who annually visit the King’s former home. Sillerman wants to partner with local government and business leaders to help make that happen.
"I want to let them know about some exciting things we hope to bring to Memphis," said Sillerman, who also owns the smash-hit television show "American Idol. We want to improve the fan experience and attract even more people to Graceland and we are going to present some ideas that include a refurbishment of the area, not just relating to Graceland but some scenic improvements to the area that involve local officials." (Source: Business Wire, 23 Feb 2006)
Elvis to appear on American Idol: Idol co-producers CKX and FremantleMedia, Fox Broadcasting, and acid-tongued judge Simon Cowell have agreed to keep the series going for at least four seasons starting with this season. Fox has agreed to pay a license fee of $18 million for this year, growing to $35.5 million in 2009.
CKX, which also licenses Elvis Presley, plans some corporate synergy. "Elvis will be making an appearance on this year's series," CEO Robert Sillerman says. (18 Jan 2006)
"Elvis After Dark" to replace Graceland Crossing shops: According to a posting on the Elvis International Fan Club Forum, news from the annual EPE fan club president's luncheon states that the now empty shops located at 'Graceland Crossing' will be transformed into a new museum called "Elvis After Dark". This name has apparently been chosen due to the museum remaining open to the public later than the Graceland mansion and the other EPE stores.
March 1st will see a new exhibit opened in "Sincerely Elvis" Musuem which will only focus on Elvis '56. It was also mentioned that Humes Junior School is going to be safe and possibly re-named to Elvis Presley Jr School. The "Elvis Lives" advertising campaign has come to the end of it's advertising Space and the new catchy logo from the brains at EPE is reported to be........."Elvis Is". (Source: Elvis International Fan Club /Elvis Express, 8 Jan 2006)
Simon Fuller not "rebranding" Elvis!: According ta message from EPE to Elvis News, Simon Fuller (creator of American Idol) will not be rebranding Elvis (see our report immediately below). EPE says: "The story about Simon Fuller/19 Entertainment and their having been put in charge of a re-branding of Elvis is false. The story seems to be the result of pure gossip or the source's having misinterpreted some bits of information he or she might have heard through the grapevine. Our parent company CKX and all its subsidiary companies enjoy a mutually supportive relationship and our companies all look forward to each opportunity that might arise for collaborating on one another's projects. The management and development of Elvis-related projects and branding is the responsibility of Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE). That has not changed."
This is the second news story which EPE has denounced this month. The other story was a report in the Australian magazine, Woman's Day, that Lisa Presley was planning her own film about Elvis (see Home page, 7 & 8 Dec 2005). (News, Source: Elvis News)
American Idol creator to rebrand Elvis!: AMERICAN IDOL creator SIMON FULLER is taking charge of ELVIS PRESLEY's musical legacy in a bid to continue the late star's enduring popularity.
The pop svengali, who masterminded the SPICE GIRLS' world domination, has been offered the chance to rebrand and remarket The King's extensive back catalogue by US entertainment giant CKX. Elvis' estate still generates $45 million (GBP25 million) a year.
An insider tells UK industry paper Music Week, "There is so much archive footage with Elvis meeting other stars lots of which has not been seen. There are so many ways it can be exploited, and that is what Fuller has been busy doing. (News, Source: Contact Music, 14 Dec 2005)
EPE revenues in spotlight: The owner of EPE, CKX, Inc. filed its half-year return with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in August. Some of the interesting filings were:
revenues for the first six months of 2005 were US$28.1m, an increase of $9.1m, or 48%, over the similar time period in 2004
licensing and royalty revenues were $14.4m, an increase of 136% over the corresponding period in 2004
tour and exhibit revenues were $5.5m, representing an 8% increase
visitor numbers to Graceland increased by 6,000, from 262,000 to 268,000 for the six-months period
Contained in the return was also that in 2004, EPE revenues had declined by 6%.
On the expenses side of the ledger, operating expenses for the last 3 months of 2004-5, period increased by $23.8m. During that 3 months period, revenue increased by only $22.4m. (News, Source: Bill E. Burk, 27 Nov 2005)
Don't throw money at false idols: Couple an American icon and an American Idol and what do you get? You get an interesting company that has as much potential for danger as success, just enough trouble to make CKX Inc. the Stupid Investment of the Week.
CKX has risen from a shell corporation in the last year to buy two of the most famous properties in entertainment, purchasing control of 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, plus 19 Entertainment, the firm responsible for the popular ``American Idol'' and ``So You Think You Can Dance'' television shows.
It's a story stock, the kind of young issue that attracts people hoping to get in on the ground floor of something big, and which uses a tinge of celebrity to possibly color the judgment of those potential investors. CKX is the latest business of billionaire entertainment mogul Robert F. X. Sillerman.
The company went public by purchasing a defunct Nevada shell company, Sports Entertainment Enterprises, in a reverse merger last December. Sillerman was one of the founders of SFX Entertainment, a sports-promotion and live-concert business that was sold five years ago to Clear Channel Communications for more than $4 billion.
He bought Sports Enterprises and renamed it CKX – for Content is King with the "X'' as his signature mark – and simultaneously bought the Presley business for about $100 million in cash and stock. Elvis has been the top-earning dead celebrity for years, according to Forbes magazine, and the plan is to build a Las Vegas museum/theater property, plus to use much of the available Elvis memorabilia to develop income streams from overseas, where the King lives large in the minds of music fans.
Yet the deal can't work unless Elvis generates a lot more money than he has been, just to cover the new layer of pricey corporate management that now gets a cut of the proceeds. And while the King remains hugely popular, Presley Enterprises saw its revenues decline by 6 percent in 2004; Elvis won't be making new albums or movies to regenerate his popularity, so CKX must turn that trend on its own, which could get increasingly tough as the King's core fans head toward retirement. (News/Sale of EPE, Source: Chuck Jaffe/Sanja Meegin, 4 Oct 2005)
CKX, Inc. to acquire and shut down 'Elvis' Themed Museum in Las Vegas - Company Will cease operations, clearing path for major themed attractions in Las Vegas and independent attraction in Hawaii: CKX, Inc. (Nasdaq: CKXE) announced today that its subsidiary, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., has agreed to acquire the assets of the Elvis-A-Rama museum, located off the strip in Las Vegas, including the trademark to the name "Elvis-A-Rama," the related website and a substantial portion of the memorabilia currently on display at the Las Vegas-based establishment. The existing museum will be permanently closed and the Elvis-A-Rama name retired as part of CKX's overall plan to bring a world class Elvis-themed attraction to the Las Vegas strip.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and CEO of CKX commented, "As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, establishing a major presence for the 'Elvis' brand in Las Vegas is an important priority of the company. The closure of the museum together with the purchase of the artifacts and memorabilia currently located there, clears the way for implementation of our plan."
CKX is acquiring these assets from Chris Davidson and certain other minority partners. Mr. Davidson has been collecting Elvis memorabilia for over ten years and is among the world's most well known private collectors of such items.
As part of the purchase, the Company will grant to Mr. Davidson the right to open a licensed Elvis-themed museum in Hawaii, a location often associated with Mr. Presley. In addition to receipt of the licensing fee, the Company will retain the right to acquire a significant equity interest in the Hawaiian operations. Hawaii served as the location for three of Mr. Presley's films and perhaps most famously, was home to the 1973 concert "Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii," which was broadcast worldwide and ultimately viewed by more than 1.5 billion people around the world. (News, Source: EPE, 27 Sep 2005)
CKX, Inc., Together With Elvis Presley Enterprises and American Idol, to Aid Hurricane Victims: Graceland and American Idol are pitching in to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, Robert F.X. Sillerman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CKX, Inc. announced today. CKX will donate 100% of the net proceeds from Graceland, the Memphis home of the legendary Elvis Presley, collected on Saturday, Sept. 10, to aid the hurricane victims, Sillerman said.
The American Idols tour will also add a show Sunday, Sept. 11th in Syracuse, N.Y. at the War Memorial in the OnCenter, with all net proceeds of that concert going to the victims as well. In addition, Sillerman announced that CKX will match contributions made by its employees to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief. Sillerman made the first CKX donation, $100,000, and a total of more than $300,000 has already been collected. All donations will be made to the American Red Cross.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragic and horrific hurricane," Sillerman said. I am sure Elvis Presley's fans as well as our Idol audience will be pleased to see that their support of our entertainment properties will be helping their neighbors who have suffered such tremendous losses. We at CKX are proud of our employees' swift and generous response to this crisis." CKX owns controlling interests in Elvis Presley Enterprises, which operates Graceland; 19 Entertainment, one of the producers of the American Idol television program and the IDOLS television brand, airing in more than 30 countries around the world; and Morra, Brezner, Steinberg & Tenenbaum Entertainment, Inc. a leading manager of comedic talent and producer of motion pictures and television programming. (Source: Newswire, 7 Sep 2005)
Elvis to return to Vegas!: A half-century after his Las Vegas debut, Elvis is returning to the Strip in a big way. New York businessman Robert F.X. Sillerman, who purchased the business side of the Elvis Presley estate, has an Elvis project planned on Las Vegas Boulevard that will stretch from the Harley-Davidson Cafe to Smith & Wollensky's.
During a Friday interview at his oceanside compound in the Hamptons, Sillerman told me that he and his partners have a major entertainment element planned for the project, which, he reminded me, will go up across the Strip from the MGM Mirage's $6 billion City Center project.
He compared the location to owning property at Times Square in New York City. Remember the name. Sillerman, who sold his SFX Entertainment company to Clear Channel for $4.5 billion and is one of the producers of the Broadway hit "The Producers," has been a major player in the
entertainment industry and has big plans for Elvis. "When we bought Elvis Presley Enterprises, we said the world is under-Elvised," Sillerman said. (Source: Elvis Unlimited, 5 Sep 2005)
Graceland has not been sold!!!: Despite several media reports (see next item) and a number of fans believing Graceland has been sold...it has not. Here is part of EPE's official statement released in the past 24 hours: 'Although the article clearly reiterates that Lisa retained sole ownership of Graceland Mansion and her father's personal effects, the inclusion of the sentence "Lisa Marie Presley has sold the business side of her father's estate and turned over his famous, white-columned house to CKX Inc.," in the story has caused some confusion. The mention of Graceland Mansion refers to operations of the Graceland tour business and not ownership of the mansion property itself. Some fans and press misunderstood this to mean Lisa has now sold Graceland Mansion. She has not'. (Source: EPE, 8 Aug 2005)
New Graceland operator worries fans: The pilgrims will still weep at Elvis Presley's grave, and the souvenir shops will still swarm with credit-card waving fans, an occasional black pompadour hardly drawing a glance. But change is in the air: Strangers are in Graceland...and some fans are worried. (News/Sale of EPE, Source: New Albany Tribune, 5 Aug 2005)
CKX, Inc. added to Russell 1000(R) Index:CKX has announced a major achievement with this news. The Russell 1000® Index measures the performance of the 1,000 largest companies in the Russell 3000® Index and is constructed to provide a comprehensive and unbiased barometer for the large-cap segment of the U.S. equity market. The index represents approximately 92% of the U.S. market. (News/Sale of EPE, Source: EPE, 14 July 2005 )
EPE talks about Graceland Crossing closures: Further to our news stories (5 June, 7 June and 26 June) about the closure of two "independent" stores at Graceland Crossing, Elvis Express has published the following comments from EPE, " Todd Morgan, spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises said EPE empire made the business decision due to "it doesn't make a lot of sense to lease space to a competing business." Morgan also said that EPE is constantly considering ideas to expand its visitor center complex, including Graceland Crossing,which is just up the street from Graceland and situated in front of EPE's Heartbreak Hotel.
EPE purchased the Graceland Crossing area in 1997 and has long considered building a major Elvismuseum to tell the Elvis Presley story down to the smallest detail. But a museum like thatwould be better placed be in the larger Graceland Plaza complex which is located directly across the street from the Graceland mansion.
But the first option would mean moving some attractions in Graceland Plaza to Graceland Crossing, less than a quarter-mile north. However, Morgan said that the museum plans remain indefinite, and there are no specific plans for use of the Graceland Crossing space. "We have nothing on the drawing board," he said. (News, Source: Elvis Express, 5 June 2005 )
EPE signs eFashion to handle its online business: Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) announced today it has signed the nation’s leading ecommerce provider, eFashion Solutions, LLC, (www.efashionsolutions.com) to manage the global web-retailing for officially licensed and trademarked Elvis products. The arrangement will also result in cheaper shipping to non-US destinations. (News, Source: EPE)
CKX, Inc. Announces Closing of Public Offering and Exercise of Over-Allotment Option: CKXE today announced that, in addition to closing its public offering of 20,000,000 shares of common stock, it also closed the sale of an additional 3,000,000 shares following the exercise of the over-allotment option granted to the underwriters in connection with the offering. (See previous press release). All of the shares were newly issued by the company and were sold at the previously announced public offering price of $11.00 per share. As a result of the exercise of the over-allotment option, the company received additional net proceeds, after underwriting discounts and commissions, of approximately $31 million, which resulted in total net proceeds from the offering of approximately $235 million. Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. was the sole book-running manager and Lehman Brothers Inc. acted as joint lead manager in connection with the offering. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state. The offering of these securities was made only by means of a prospectus. A copy of the final prospectus may be obtained by contacting Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., c/o Prospectus Department, 383 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10179 or Lehman Brothers Inc. c/o ADP Financial Services Integrated Distribution Services, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, New York 11717 tel. (631- 274-8321). (Source: EPE, 28 June 2005)
New line of Elvis clothing: The second clothing line of Elvis Presley Enterprises will be unveiled in August with an upscale line and a U.S. department store line. The first Elvis clothing line flopped when it premiered in February, but after making changes suggested by retailers such as different pant-leg styles, the clothing line will re-emerge, Forbes.com reported. The founder of Sasson Jeans, Paul Guez, the designer behind the old and new Elvis line, has invested millions in Elvis Presley Clothing. However, while the Elvis name continues to make money more than 25 years after the singer died, there is still a question which Elvis the clothing line will follow. While fashion follows the playboy Elvis in the movie Viva Las Vegas, much of the Elvis fan base is the age and size of the jumpsuited Elvis who performed in Las Vegas. Carol Butler, director of worldwide licensing for EPE, admitted the new fashion line with its subdued fashions and fitted clothing doesn't sit well with the traditional fan base. The older audience doesn't like that, she said. They want something boxy. (News, Source: Forbes.com/UPI)
Is another "independent" shop at Graceland Crossing to close?: According to Sid Shaw from Elvisly Yours in England, another independent store, "Loose Ends", may have lost its lease at Graceland Crossing with EPE officials (or the "Blue Meanies" as Sid likes to call them) not renewing it. Recently "Memories of Elvis" announced that EPE had elected not to renew its lease at Graceland Crossings - see our Sale of EPE archives for more information. (News/Sale of EPE, Source: Sid Shaw)
CKX public share release:CKX, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKXE) has announced the pricing of its public offering of 20,000,000 shares of common stock, all of which are newly issued by the company, at $11.00 per share. CKX will use approximately $150 million of the net proceeds to repay substantially all of its outstanding indebtedness. (News, Source: EPE, 23 June 2005 )
What is EPE up to?: The closure later this year of "Memories of Elvis" has many fans incensed. So why is the longstanding outlet being forced to close? EPE received two interesting messages about the issue which shed light both on what plans EPE may have for the site and the unfortunate political rhetoric engaged in by the company. (News, Source: Bill E. Burk/Sanja Meegin, 6 June 2005)
CKX Appoints Michael Ferrel President: CKX Inc., producer of the "American Idol" television show and manager of the Elvis Presley estate, said Monday that it appointed Michael G. Ferrel as president. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert F.X. Sillerman had also been serving as president since he bought the company in February. He will continue in these roles, the company said. (News, Source: The Asociated Press, 23 May 2005)
Elvis commercial unlikely:If rock 'n' roll legend Elvis
Presley shows up in any future digital projects it will not
likely be in a commercial, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Robert F.X. Sillerman, who recently gained control of Presley's
name, image and likeness, said he doubted Presley would appear
in a car commercial, the way the late Steve McQueen recently
did. Sillerman also said he didn't think it would be a good
idea to do with Presley what was done with the late Conway
Twitty recently, when bits of Twitty's old records were manipulated
through a computer program to make it sound like he was singing
a new song. I'm not sure you're going to see Elvis in a commercial,
Sillerman said. With Elvis, less is more. George Klein, a
pallbearer at Presley's funeral who currently operates an
Elvis station on Sirius satellite radio, said he would welcome
a new Elvis record. I think it's strictly business and this
is 2005, Klein said. He's been dead 27 years, and you have
to move on. Market what you got. A duet with Britney Spears
or something like that would be great.(News/Sale
of EPE, Source: Los Angeles Times/Chad Heywood, April 2005)
Announces Conversion of Preferred Stock:The latest press
release from EPE's parent company, CKX, Inc.: March 23, 2005--Sports
Entertainment Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a CKX, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKXE
- News) announced today that it has received notice from The
Huff Alternative Fund, L.P. and certain of its affiliates
("Huff") that they have exercised their right to convert their
2,172,400 shares of Series A Convertible Redeemable Preferred
Stock of the Company into common stock of the Company, resulting
in the issuance of 6,051,253 shares of common stock. Huff
acquired the preferred stock which carried a face amount of
$43,448,000 in February 2004. A full description of the Preferred
Stock is contained in the Company's Current Report on Form
8-K which was filed with the SEC on February 8, 2005. Robert
F. X. Sillerman, Chairman of CKX, Inc. commented, "We are
pleased that Huff has chosen to convert their preferred shares,
which had an eight year term, to common so early in the evolution
of our company. This will strengthen our balance sheet, provide
us with flexibility in the future and simplify our capital
structure by eliminating the complex anti-dilution protections
and special voting rights contained in the original instrument." CKX is engaged in the ownership, development and commercial
utilization of entertainment content.(News/Sale
of EPE, Source: EPE, 25 March 2005)
stocks go on sale: Robert Sillerman is pictured (centre)
at the Nasdaq
National Market System when 34% of the stocks in his company
CKX Sports Entertainment Enterprises were put up for sale.
CKX Sports Entertainment Enterprises owns EPE and the
right to run Graceland as a museum. Robert Sillerman owns
51% of the stocks and Lisa Marie Presley owns 15%. If
you are interested in buying stocks then visit Nasdaq
National Market System and search for CKXE.(Source:
EPE, 3 March 2005)
Sillerman stock price rising: Now that the majority sale
of EPE has been finalised it's interesting to see that the
stock price for Robert Sillerman's company is rising and many
Elvis fans who got in when the sale/merger was announced are
smiling. (News, Source: USA Stock Prices,
16 Feb 2005)
Presley says "I haven't sold Graceland": Lisa
Marie Presley was interviewed by the television entertainment
show, ET, at the Grammy Awards. Lisa made it quite clear she
has not sold Graceland, only 85% of EPE, the business arm
of the Elvis industry, and that she sold it in order to take
the Elvis industry to another level. (News,
Source: Entertainment Tonight, 13 Feb 2004)
Marie on Estate Sale - Presley says she didn’t “go nuts”:Lisa Marie Presley talked to Rolling Stone magazine about
the sale of EPE to Robert Sillerman. In the interview Lisa
reveals that she had been searching for years for the right
buyer and importantly, under arrangements for the sale, she
retains the power of veto. (News/Interview,
Source: rollingstone.com, 12 Jan 2005)
officials concerned about future of Elvis fest after sale:
Organizers of Tupelo, Mississippi's Elvis Presley festival
says they're not certain about its future with a new company
in charge of licensing agreements. The King of Rock 'n' Roll
was born in Tupelo and the festival brings in thousands of
visitors to the city each year. But Tupelo's deal to put Presley's
likeness on posters, billboards, brochures, even coffee mugs,
ends in September 2006. Lisa Marie Presley has sold 85 percent
of Elvis Presley Enterprises to Robert F.X. Sillerman, the
founder of SFX Entertainment. The $100 million deal includes
all trademark rights to Presley's name, likeness and image
and puts new people in charge of deciding who can and who
can't use them. (News, Source: Wate.com,
11 Jan 2005)
hello to Elvis? Ringtones tap into a million-dollar market: Angela Landon's boyfriend calls her on her cell phone, and
she's treated to the celestial strains of Handel's "Hallelujah
Chorus." When it's her family in Texas calling, her phone
plays the theme from television's "Dallas." NYC friends set
off a round of "New York, New York." Pesky unidentified callers?
She's warned with a snippet of Elvis' "Suspicious Minds."
Eminem offers a free ringtone of his single "Just Lose It"
for consumers who purchase the double-disc collector's edition
of his new album, "Encore." EIN suggests that consumer interest
in ringtones is an area that should be taken very seriously
by Elvis' record company, BMG/Sony (and EPE). (News/Comment,
Source: Detroit News/EIN, 29
Lisa Marie sells most of Elvis' estate: Lisa Marie Presley
is keeping Graceland but selling the bulk of the Elvis estate,
including rights to her father's name and image, in a deal
worth approximately $100 million. The Associated Press reports
that Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. announced an agreement
Thursday to sell 85 percent of its assets to businessman Robert
F.X. Sillerman, founder of music and sports promoter SFX Entertainment.
But why sell an estate that brings in $45 million a year for
$100 million? Lisa Marie has $25 million in debts (of which
she will be absolved under this deal) but on the face of it,
the sale doesn't seem like a bright move. At least she gets
$20 million in shares of the new company formed to run the
estate. "For the past few years, I've been looking for someone
to join forces with to expand the many facets of (Elvis Presley
Enterprises), to take it to new levels internationally and
to make it an even greater force in the entertainment industry," Presley said in a statement. Fans of Graceland tours note:
The 650,000 visitors a year will still be welcome. (News/Comment,
Source: Seattlepi.com, 23 Dec
of voters "disagree" with Lisa Presley's decision
to sell EPE: According to a message on the For Elvis
CD Collectors Only messageboard, CNN.com ran an online
poll which resulted in 55% of voters saying Lisa's decision
to sell EPE was the wrong one. (News, Source:
For Elvis CD Collectors Only, 22 Dec 2004)
start petition condemning sale of EPE: A group of
fans have commenced an online petition telling Lisa Presley
they resent her decision to sell majority control of EPE to
Robert F.X. Sillerman. (News, Source: Email,
19 Dec 2004)
Graceland closing?: In the wake of Lisa Presley's decision
to sell majority ownership in EPE to Robert
Sillerman, Elvis messageboards and email groups have
lit up with an array of conspiracy type stories. One is that
Graceland will soon close. This is the official statement
from EPE: "No. Absolutely not. Graceland opened to
the public in 1982. Every year or every few months or so since
then, some tabloid writer or other mischief maker somewhere
in the world has invented a story saying that Graceland will
be closing. Sometimes these stories find their way into more
mainstream news media in some countries. The stories tend
to say that the reason for the closing is that Elvis Presley's
daughter Lisa is moving into Graceland or that she is selling
it. Closing or selling Graceland has never been a consideration.
Any stories to the contrary are pure fiction. Graceland will
be open for generations to come." (News,
Source: EPE, 19 Dec 2004)
may soon grab share of Elvis: Elvis Presley has left the
building - and headed to Wall Street with some help from radio
and concert entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman. Sillerman
unveiled a two-part business deal yesterday that will give
investors an opportunity to gamble on his ability to find
new markets for all things Elvis. It's predicated on the belief
that the world is "under-Elvised," as he puts it. "Even in
the U.S., the only way to get in contact with the Elvis experience
is at Graceland," The King's estate in Memphis which attracted
650,000 visitors last year, he says. He agreed to pay $100
million for an 85 percent interest in most of Elvis' assets.
Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, will control the rest.
Sillerman plans to fold his Presley holdings into Sports Entertainment
Enterprises, a publicly traded company. (News,
Source: USA Today, 19 Dec 2004)
Burk comments on sale of EPE: Elvis World's "007" has
spoken to insiders and gives his view on some of the implications
of the sale: "Robert Sillerman says there will be no changes
in EPE personnel; but this is a standard statement in mergers
and aquisitions. Don't be surprised if soon after the deal
becomes final -- expected about February 2005 -- that Sillerman
will begin putting his own people in place. This would only
be natural to expect. One of his first missions will be to
bring Elvis closer to fans around the world. He has specifically
mentioned projects (exhibits?) in Germany, Japan and Las Vegas.
In the past, EPE has pursued an Elvis casino in Las Vegas;
a string of nightclub/restaurants like EP's-Memphis (which
was closed earlier this year after years of red ink). In both
these ventures, as well as a convention hotel on Graceland
property, EPE obviously couldn't attract investors. These
now come into the "highly possible" range under Sillerman's
guidance." (News, Source: Bill E. Burk's
Elvis World Online, 19 Dec 2004)
Personal Note from Lisa Marie Presley: Hello and Happy
Holidays! I would like to further clarify and ease any weary
minds (if there are any about the recent business announcement).
First off, companies merge all the time and while it is true
that EPE has been successfully holding its own for 25 years,
myself, my mother and the board came to realize that in order
to take the business to a whole different level, merging with
another provenly successful team would accomplish that. The
search for the right person has been going on for years, none
of us at EPE would have done this if it weren't in the best
interest of my father and his legacy. No stone was left unturned
in making sure that business will be run as it historically
has been, with integrity, always preserving and protecting
my father. The executives, my mother and myself remain very
active in the operations of Graceland and its entities. What
is and has been done will remain, and merging with Bob Sillerman
and his team simply gives us new opportunities that we didn't
have before. Business-wise any company can always grow, what
is predominately sacred and can never be touched is Graceland
itself and its contents and artifacts and that is and remains
mine and my family's forever. Frankly, we are all united and
excited about this and I send my best wishes to you and yours
for the holidays. Much love, LMP (News,
Source: lisapresley.com/EPE, 18 Dec 2004)
and China: an untapped goldmine?: With so many companies
in the West establishing offices, or forming strategic alliances
in mainland China, it struck EIN that the country is potentially
a goldmine of opportunity for "things" Elvis. While the International
Elvis Fan Club in Hong Kong is very active, little is known
about Elvis related things in "mainland China" which has a
population exceeding 1 billion! Perhaps EPE and BMG should
have strategic plans addressing this particular opportunity.
Let us know what you think. (News/Comment,
Source: EIN, 15 Dec 2004)
EPE staffer resigns: Debbie Jarvis Johnson, the "glue" who has held Graceland's operations together since the opening
in June 1982, yesterday resigned her position as EPE's general
manager, effective 8 October! Debbie was #2 on the power chart,
a half-inch below Jack Soden, CEO. EW has always had wonderful
relations with Debbie. Debbie's
resignation follows the resignation of EPE fan club co-ordinator
Patsy Andersen in late April. (News, Source: Bill Burk, 12 Sep 2004)
for sale?: Sid Shaw's latest Elvis cyberalert suggests
rumors are again circulating that Lisa Presley wants to
sell Graceland and EPE, with a reported asking price of
US$350 million. The rationale for selling Graceland and
the EPE franchise would be concerns that older fans won't
be around much longer and receipts are likely to diminish
in future years.With fan numbers much less thananticipated at this year's "50th Anniversary of That's All Right/Birth of Rock & Roll" Elvis Week some alarm bells may be ringing. Apart from a potential big 3oth anniversary Elvis Week in 2007 EPE may continue to experience slim pickings at other times. (Elvis News, Source: Sid Shaw, 29 Aug 2004)
Elvis by the numbers:Elvis Presley may have left the building 30 years ago, but that hasn't stopped the company that owns his name from putting up more buildings. (Source: Forbes, Aug 2007)
The man who bought Elvis: Investor Robert Sillerman is combining the King, American Idol, and other entertainment assets to build his next media conglomerate. Fortune magazine recently published this fascinating, in-depth look at the man behind the future of EPE. It possibly also reveals a hidden factor behind EPE's need to involve a new owner. (Spotlight/Sale of EPE; Source: Fortune, Nov 2005)
interested in the sale of EPE should find this detailed article
about Robert Sillerman particularly interesting. It details
many of his business successes and gives several insights
into the psychology of his character. (Sale
of Estate/Spotlight Article, Source: NewYorkMetro.com, orig.
pub. Dec 2004)
industry flourishes but what is the future?: Twenty-seven
years after his death Elvis is the most profitable "dead
celebrity", and in this article Forbes magazine looks
at EPE's strategy to lift 'flat' revenues as Elvis again tops
the deceased celebrities earnings list. (Spotlight/Article,
Source: Forbes.com, 27 Oct 2004)