May 18, 2006

Cirque du Soleil to build new shows around Elvis

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Elvis may have left the building,
but in a couple of years fans of Cirque du Soleil may find the
King of Rock 'n' Roll swiveling his hips and singing "Jailhouse
Rock" from a trapeze.

CKX Inc., which owns rights to Elvis Presley's name,
likeness and music publishing, has teamed up with the famed
troupe of acrobats and contortionists to produce Presley-themed
shows around the world, the company said on Thursday.

Dubbed the "Elvis Presley Projects," the joint venture will
incorporate Cirque du Soleil touring shows and permanent Cirque
productions at fixed venues, all incorporating the name, image,
likeness and music of Presley.

Cirque will also produce an interactive multimedia
presentation of music, audiovisual works and memorabilia
featuring the life and times of Elvis.

The shows are all slated to debut in 2008.

While production plans were still murky, CKX Chairman
Robert Sillerman said he expected the shows would involve a mix
of "original recordings and new performances" of Presley's
music and that Cirque du Soleil "will create an extravaganza, a
spectacle to that."

Sillerman said some kind of Elvis Presley character might
be part of the shows.

A separate deal will have to be reached with RCA Records
parent Sony BMG for permission to use recordings of Presley's
music because that label still owns the masters to his songs,
he added.

The new Presley production will be added to the repertoire
of 13 shows that Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil is now
presenting around the world. Its latest extravaganza, the first
incorporating music not composed for Cirque, opens next month
in Las Vegas featuring the music of the Beatles.

CKX bought a controlling interest in Elvis Presley
Enterprises from the rock legend's daughter, Lisa Marie
Presley, in December 2004 in a deal valued at $100 million.

Sillerman's company struck a similar deal for the rights to
boxing great Muhammad Ali's image for about $50 million in cash
last month.