Though rock legend Elvis Presley has been the subject of two major made-for-TV biopics previously (a 1979 version starring Kurt Russell and a 2005 miniseries starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers), RLF Victor Productions now has a big-screen treatment in the works, and they’ve tapped documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld to direct.
Scheinfeld is perhaps best known as the director of the 2006 documentary “The U.S. vs. John Lennon”, which premiered at that year’s Venice Film Festival. The prolific filmmaker is no stranger to chronicling famous musicians, having previously directed docs on such subjects as Bette Midler, Andy Williams, and Ricky Nelson.
The film will be based on the 2007 best-seller “Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business”, co-penned by Elvis’ close friend and bodyguard Sonny West with biographer Marshall Terrill. The book was adapted for the screen by RLF Victor Productions president Cindy Friedlander, Michael Schlau, and West.
Along with his cousin “Red”, Sonny West was counted as a member of the “Memphis Mafia”, a popular nickname for Elvis’ core group of friends and associates.
“John Scheinfeld is the premier director of popular culture bios on music icons,” said Ricki Landers Friedlander, Chairman and CEO of RLF Victor Productions. “Elvis Presley and Sonny West’s story, which requires great sensitivity and understanding, couldn’t be in more capable hands.”
Casting is scheduled to begin later this year for a planned 2012 release.
I’ll be interested to see how this project shapes up, but in the meantime I’m not exactly bowled over by Scheinfeld’s attachment. When it comes to biopics, a legend like Elvis demands a big-screen treatment worthy of his immense talent and influence, and Scheinfeld doesn’t quite seem to fit the bill. I can only hope the producers will bring in a heavyweight screenwriter to do a pass on the script.