Movie Magic Comes Alive With Oscars 2023

Keep your Super Bowls, and give me the Oscars!

I continually am thrilled by the movies that Hollywood makes each year.  I have always loved film and appreciated the talent it takes to write, act, produce, and direct.   Some movies make me smile, others cry, some make me think, and others are just pure fun to watch. Though I have loved escaping with film since a teenager, I have noticed that over the past decade, my need for escape has increased due to the chaos-filled world. Movies are clearly a tonic for my soul.

At our home, James and I watch films throughout the year.  We also sit back and enjoy the Academy Awards Show–this year being the 95th presentation.   There is a sense of wonder as the men in tuxes and women in designer gowns enter with grace and hope. The Oscars are for more than just looking at the films of the past year but also are a vehicle for grand nostalgic montages to again remind us of the magic that film continues to hold from decades past.  I trust there are some legends who show up and make the night come alive with personal memories.

The film I simply adored this year, no surprise, of course, was Elvis. But as a lover of film, it goes without saying there are so many others that strike an emotional cord that whoever wins the coveted awards it is safe to say they are well deserved. I firmly believe that Austin Butler walks home with Best Actor tonight……….Thank ya, thank ya very much. 

I suspect the costume award also goes to Elvis. I noted at the time of watching the film wardrobes stood out for all the cast. Production design for the movie was also noted by me to those watching the film as it was highly creative, but All Quiet on The Western Front will likely be the winner in that category.

So just a few hours until it is the night of Movie Magic!

Priscilla Presley Most Able To Shape, Guide, Grow Elvis’ Business Affairs

Elvis Presley made the front page of The New York Times today. The legendary performer and essential voice and character of American music and culture still connect with the public and his economic prowess decades following his death underscores the reason he is still referred to with the moniker ‘The King’. With the obvious stated, let us talk with additional candor about the legal affairs that surround his family.

I am confident Elvis would not be pleased with the reason his name is making the press these days in a legal arena. While he would surely be most honored and tickled with the fame that has come to his memory from the incredible performance of Austin Butler in the movie Elvis, which has reaped Oscar nominations including the Best Actor nod, all the rest of what has been occurring would simply make him most sad.  His daughter Lisa Marie died weeks ago, and his estate and professional interests are being tugged at for various reasons, again sadly, some for less than honorable outcomes.

Lisa Marie was never, and for whatever reason, able to either cope with fame as she entered adulthood or able to ever acquire business savvy. The Elvis world was filled with stunned apoplexy when it became clear that Michael Jackson was far more interested in the music rights for Elvis’ musical library than in any desire for female companionship from Lisa.  Evidence of the lack of seriousness that Elvis’ daughter brought to the business side of Elvis Presley Enterprises was summed up in today’s front page story. It was not news to EP fans, but it is important this information is nationalized so that Priscilla Presley is not vilified as she works to right the ship at Graceland in Memphis.

“….the Elvis brand today continues to take in more than $100 million a year as the licensing juggernaut behind apparel, pink Cadillac plush toys and tickets to tour Graceland. But the family trust receives only a fraction of its proceeds, according to court filings that detail its earnings.

In 2005, Lisa Marie and her business manager sold off 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises for roughly $97 million in cash, stock and debt relief, according to court documents — funds that have since been nearly depleted. Still, last year, before her death, Elvis’s daughter drew an income of $1.25 million from the trust, which continues to be worth tens of millions of dollars, according to financial filings. The beneficiaries are now Keough and her two younger half sisters.

The spending sprees and awful decision making from Lisa Marie underscore the complete drift from the precise and measured ways Priscilla Presley had fashioned Elvis’ memory following his death into the iconic image he is today.  Even after the divorce between the famed couple it was clear of the deep bond that existed and further underscored by how Priscilla has ben diligent in her work on his behalf since 1977.

The Los Angeles Times estimated in 1989 that the value of the estate had climbed to more than $75 million and that Elvis Presley Enterprises was bringing in an estimated $15 million a year in gross income.

The assets grew to more than $100 million by 2005, according to court documents. By that time, they had been moved into a new vehicle, the Promenade Trust, established by Lisa Marie in 1993. She was its beneficiary; her mother and Barry Siegel, the family’s business manager, served as trustees.

Then began what Lisa Marie’s lawyers have called her “11-year odyssey to financial ruin.”

Siegel and Lisa Marie would later trade accusations over who was to blame for her precipitous financial decline. In a 2018 court fight, which was eventually settled, Siegel contended that, though the trust received millions of dollars in annual income, “Lisa’s continuous, excessive spending and reliance on credit” drove it into significant debt.

On Jan. 26, two weeks after Lisa Marie’s death, Priscilla filed papers in Superior Court in Los Angeles challenging a 2016 amendment to the trust purportedly authorized by Lisa Marie. That amendment had removed Priscilla and Siegel as trustees. It had also designated Riley Keough and Benjamin, her brother, as co-trustees in the event of Lisa Marie’s death.

Siegel had acknowledged receiving notice of his removal as trustee during his 2018 court battle with Lisa Marie. But Priscilla’s lawyers argued that the amendment was invalid, saying that it had never been delivered to her during Lisa Marie’s lifetime as required under the language of the trust. They also argued that the amendment was potentially fraudulent, asserting that Lisa Marie’s signature was “inconsistent” with her usual penmanship. Priscilla asked the court to recognize her as a trustee.

It is imperative that reason and professionalism again return as the controlling hand on the icon’s memory and financial viability. As we know from the recent blockbuster film about Elvis there is indeed a whole new generation coming to know of both the music and the man.  Priscilla Presley is the one to best shape, guide, and grow this legend’s business affairs.

Hearse That Carried Elvis’ Body Destroyed In Fire

There is much emotion among many in the nation today as Graceland was opened this morning to the public for a memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis. With powerful words and numerous musical selections, the program was a stirring reminder of the connection fans around the globe have for the man who changed music and culture. Elvis’ family has become a part of the national fabric the way the Kennedy family formed emotional chords of unity.  This phenomenon has been rather remarkable to witness going on for 50 years. Growing up as a teenager in the 70s I was drawn to the music and mood that was conveyed in performances ranging from Treat Me Nice to Its Midnight. From my rural and too-often redneck community, I found strength in Elvis having worn pink shirts and a ducktail in a direct middle finger salute to the norms of his time. His message was not lost on a kid from Hancock who was trying to bend the norms in his hometown, too.

While there are many stories and photos today of the program and the grief in Memphis, I want to take a different path with this post and in so doing add some trivia for fans that are always in search of another aspect to the larger story concerning EP they might not have been aware of previously.

What happened to the hearse that carried Elvis’ body in Memphis in 1977?

My name is Chuck Houston, President of Houston Brothers, Inc., a funeral car dealer in Marietta, GA. Around 1984, I was the last person to drive the hearse that carried Elvis to his grave. Our Company, then known as Crain S&S Sales which my father owned, bought, sold, leased and traded cars with SCI. He did so for many years. He originally sold the car new to SCI. We came back into possession of Elvis’s hearse when Memphis FH updated their rolling stock.We were loaning the hearse to a funeral home in South Florida until their new vehicle was ready for delivery. My father was reluctant to loan the car out. He wanted to hang on to it, the only car he ever wanted to keep in 50 years of business.The funeral home in Florida was one of his biggest customers and needed a white/white loaner desperately. Elvis’s hearse happened to be the only white hearse on the lot. Another employee and I, both of us about 21 at the time (we were going to drop off the car and then spend a few days of spring break in Ft. Lauderdale) took off toward Miami on I-75 around 7:00 pm.Around 10:00 we ran out of gas just north of Valdosta, GA. What was odd is that a tank of gas in those days would carry you from Marietta, GA to the Live Oak exit in Florida with gas left in the tank. That was based on the many, many cars my friend and I delivered to the south Florida area in the early ’80s. Therefore we never checked the gas gauge until we were in the vicinity of Live Oak.

abandoned funeral service car

After running out of gas, we walked about two miles to the next exit, bought a can and some gas and started back up the northbound return ramp toward Elvis’s hearse. Before reaching the highway a Lowndes County Sheriff stopped us, asked where we were going and called us a cab. We got her going again and headed for the gas station to fill her up. Heading south again, we were on our way. Just as the weigh station (the last one on southbound 75) came into sight the engine cut off. I dropped her into neutral while traveling around 65 mph and turned the ignition. When I did, fire shot out from under the hood on both sides. I eased her to the shoulder next to the weigh station return ramp and my friend and I jumped from the hearse as the fire engulfed the front end of the hearse.My friend and I met at the rear of the car and realized all of our possessions were in the rear of the hearse and the doors were locked. We couldn’t get back in the front to retrieve the keys due to the fire having already spread. A truck driver appeared with a fire extinguisher but it was too late. Neither of us wanted to get close for fear the hearse would blow up. So there we stood and watched as Elvis’s hearse went up in flames. A fire truck finally arrived and all they could save was the rear quarter panels, the rear door, and bumper.

Lisa Marie Presley Dead At 54, Heart Attack Suffered At Her Home

The news of the death of Lisa Marie Presley at the age of 54 leaves a large swath of the nation heavy-hearted and hurting.  The only child of famed superstar Elvis Presley died from a massive heart attack this afternoon.  Her past comments about her battles with drug addiction is a painful chapter that very well could have played a role in her untimely death.

Within the international community of Elvis fans the shock and loss of Lisa Marie have sent heartfelt words across social media. Another sad chapter for the Presley family has come to an end.  An end far too soon, and needlessly so.

Just days ago she was at the Golden Globes and seemed not to be steady on her feet.

Elvis at times had talked about his daughter from the concert stage.

Watched “Elvis”! Director Baz Luhrmann Deserves Oscar Nomination

Saturday night two wonderful friends asked James and Wisconsin’s #1 Elvis fan to their home to watch Austin Butler and Oscar winner Tom Hanks in the stunning new film, Elvis. The powerful and seamless way the story evolves is the product of phenomenal directing by Baz Luhrmann. I have to think there is an Oscar nomination for this directing project. The director had the film ‘feel’ like the 1971 “That’s The Way It Is” and the 1972 “Elvis on Tour” films. There was a modern feel with a story that took place decades ago.

I can be, admittedly a film snob, and so I can say it was not the topic of the movie that made the movie a joy, but the way the actors and filming allowed for the story of Elvis and Tom Parker to be told in a convincing and dramatic fashion. Costume design nod at the Oscars and without a doubt Hanks gets a Best Actor nomination.

I was struck, repeatedly by Austin truly having studied and watched scores of Elvis footage to get the small touches down and then incorporated into the film. Such as having small hand movements; as in the 1968 Black leather jumpsuit scene where he echoes the slightly shaky hand that Elvis has as he takes hold of the microphone.

And of course, I wore my version of the Gold Lame jacket from EP in the 1950s. With an Elvis scarf, which has s story. My best friend, Brad Kelly, decades ago attended an Elvis impersonator show with me, and as we were near the stage he grabbed a scarf worn by the performer. The guy was a bit taken aback, but I came home that night with a purple scarf. It has rested around the neck of a white teddy bear ever since. Tonight I knew our hostess, also an EP fan, should have it and so at the end of the night, just as in any concert in the 1970s, the last pretty woman near the stage got it. Near the door in this case, as we left their home I put it around her neck. And with that Elvis left the building! A grand night and thanks to truly nice people for thinking of us to join them to watch the movie.

My New Doty Land Podcast: Elvis, Thunderstorms, Dan Rather, And Local Radio

Fond memories of Gregory Humphrey’s first day on WDOR radio with Elvis’ music, recollections of Dan Rather one Sunday morning on a Texas radio station, and a severe thunderstorm in Sturgeon Bay when a Brewer baseball game is knocked off the air as callers light up the phone lines!  Funny memories with another Doty Land professional-sounding podcast.

Doty Land is not the biggest or the best podcast, but it is mine and it makes for lots of smiles and hours well-spent on the Madison isthmus.

Memory Of Elvis Presley As We Honor His Life On August 16th

Each year on this day Caffeinated Politics posts about the life and times of Elvis Presley. I try to do something different each August 16th, as with today’s song from his Promised Land album. It was spinning on the stereo system yesterday as I did some projects around the home. I noted, again, to James that Mr. Songman was a 45-rpm record I always tried to grab when I pulled several for my ‘on-air’ shift in broadcasting school. I liked the melody but loved the lyrics, as I knew them to be true from my years of listening to disc jockeys as a boy growing up in rural Waushara County.

Elvis died on this day in 1977 at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

Promised Land was the twenty-first album by Elvis released by RCA on his birthday, January 8, 1975, when he turned 40 years old. In the US the album reached number 47 on Billboard‘s Top 200 chart and number 1 on Billboard’s Top Country LPs chart, as well as the Cashbox Country albums chart. In the UK the album reached #21.

Elvis In Concert, Live From Madison, At Dane County Coliseum On New 2-CD Set, RCA Recording Perfection

Finally, I have in my collection a live version of Blue Christmas sung by Elvis Presley. To make the smile a bit richer the recording comes from a concert in Madison at the Dane County Coliseum in 1976. Even better, that concert and the accompanying one from Pine Bluff, Arkansas were recorded by RCA, so the sound quality is nothing short of stunning.

Earlier this year Elvis Presley Enterprises made it known the 2-CD set was to be released this spring. My pre-ordered copy arrived via the mail and the stereo has been rocking as of late.

There are other concerts and recorded material that RCA has in their vaults. While I understand the commercial interests and focused releases of such music to coincide with larger events, such as the new movie in theatres about Elvis, starring Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, fans worldwide deserve more of these concerts and musical moments to hear and treasure.

You can own your copy of the above by clicking here.

Thank ya very much.