Ricky's Vocal Coach
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Location: Richmond, IN
|Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 11:37 am Post subject: Lisa Marie Sells Elvis' Graceland for $50 million
|New Graceland Operator Worries Elvis Fans
08/05/2005 12:43 PM, AP
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.
Lisa Marie Presley has sold the business side of her father's estate and turned over his famous, white-columned house to CKX Inc., an entertainment company that also owns the "American Idol" TV show.
Now, some of fans who flock to Memphis each year to commemorate Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977, are worried their annual homecoming won't be quite so homey.
"They call themselves a company now," said Jean Donovan, a fan from Derry, N.H.
Of course, Elvis Presley Enterprises was already a company. Forbes listed Presley as the world's top earning dead entertainer last year.
Graceland managers say the Elvis business, which brings in $40 million a year, is poised to grow even more. CKX says it's looking into "Elvis-related attractions" in places like Las Vegas, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. No details have been announced.
"Elvis sells all over the world, and that's where the real opportunity for growth lies for us, to take more of Elvis and Graceland out to the world," said Jack Soden, chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises, now a subsidiary of New York-based CKX.
Soden oversaw Graceland's opening in 1982, and he's staying on the job. But the Elvis faithful are ever-watchful for hints of change at Graceland, where Presley is buried in a small garden.
"I know a lot of the older fans are in an uproar," said Kathie Bryson, a fan from St. Louis. "But then, anything that changes down there puts them in an uproar."
Elvis won't be the only American idol in the stables of CKX, a company founded by Robert F.X. Sillerman, an investor who specializes in media and entertainment.
A month after the Elvis deal, CKX acquired 19 Entertainment, the British company that produces the TV show "American Idol" and its British predecessor, "Pop Idol." CKX also has an agreement to buy MBST, a Hollywood talent-management company, and expects to make other acquisitions.
CKX says its strategy is to buy companies that control "established entertainment content"