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Archive for Sunday, January 9, 2005

People

January 9, 2005

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Elvis' career remains hot

Memphis, Tenn. -- Would the pompadour be gray? Would arthritis have stilled the swiveling hips? Would the lip now curl above false teeth?

If he were still alive, Elvis Presley would have turned 70 on Saturday. But old age and the unfortunate problem of being deceased haven't slowed down the King.

"There's no age to him," said Jerry Engelby, one of 800 or so fans gathered on Graceland's front lawn for a cake cutting and "Happy Birthday" sing-along. "He's just Elvis."

For the faithful, with "Good Rockin' Tonight" blasting from a pair of speakers, Elvis was as hot (or as cool) as ever.

That he was born in 1935 and died in 1977 did little to tarnish the fans' memories of a rock 'n' roll rebel or bespangled superstar.

"In the movies we're watching, he's still just Elvis. The songs we're hearing, he's still just Elvis," said Engelby, 62, of Jefferson City, Mo., who wears pink and black to Graceland because Presley favored those colors early in his career.

That career, which began in 1954, is still strong, too, with Presley's run as a star lasting longer after death than in life. And now, at 70, Elvis may be on the cusp of a whole new phase in his career.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the estate, brought in $45 million last year, making Elvis one of the top earning dead entertainers in the world.

Since his death, the estate, including the rights to his name and image, have been solely owned by his only heir, daughter Lisa Marie Presley.

But now, Robert F.X. Sillerman, the founder of music and sports promoter SFX Entertainment, is in the process of buying 85 percent of the estate's assets. He plans to take the business public and look for new markets for Elvis ventures -- perhaps shops, museums or other attractions elsewhere in the United States or abroad.

Austrian gets 'dream role' of playing Schwarzenegger

Graz, Austria -- He's Austrian, he bears a striking resemblance to his hero and he's got bulging biceps he likes to call "my little Alps." Who better to play Arnold Schwarzenegger in a U.S. made-for-TV movie than actor Roland Kickinger?

Inspired by the Schwarzenegger film "Conan the Barbarian," Kickinger began bodybuilding at a gym in Vienna in the 1980s. Now he's starring as a young Schwarzenegger in "See Arnold Run," a film being made by the cable channel A&E.

Kickinger, a former Mr. Austria who says he befriended Schwarzenegger and has idolized the California governor for years, told Austrian television Thursday it's a dream role.

The film, directed by James B. Rogers, is scheduled to debut on A&E at the end of this month.

'Hot' country star to judge 'American Idol"-like contest

Nashville, Tenn. -- Country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar will be joining host LeAnn Rimes on the third season of USA Network's talent show "Nashville Star."

Vassar will be a celebrity judge on the show, which begins its new season March 1, Libby Hansen of USA Network announced.

The reality talent show pits country music singing hopefuls against each other in an "American Idol"-style competition. The winner will receive a recording contract from Universal South Records, part of the Universal Music Group.

Princes follow footsteps of elder royalty in giving

London -- Princes William and Harry pitched in Friday to help survivors of the Asian tsunami, packing aid to be sent to the region.

William, 22, and Harry, 20, sons of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, helped pack boxes of emergency supplies for the British Red Cross at a warehouse in Gloucestershire, England.

The pair, along with other volunteers, unloaded pallets of toilet paper and shampoo that were packed with other toiletries into hygiene packs to be sent to the Maldives area.

Charles, who is a patron of the Red Cross, visited the group's London headquarters last week to support the relief operation.

Earlier this week, his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, visited a telephone call center that is helping families locate missing loved ones.

World's best put poker faces on in 'Battle of the Sexes'

New York -- Do you want Kennedy or Tom Leykis on the front line of the battle of the sexes?

That's the choice the GSN network is offering. The former MTV personality and the radio personality will be co-hosts of "Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes."

The latest twist in the trend of card-playing television is to match some of the world's best male and female poker places up against each other in a tournament. Poker player Robert Williamson III will be the color commentator. The series debuts Jan. 21.

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