Back to IndieWire

‘Who Is Harry Nilsson’ Director John Scheinfeld To Helm Elvis Presley Biopic ‘Fame & Fortune’

'Who Is Harry Nilsson' Director John Scheinfeld To Helm Elvis Presley Biopic 'Fame & Fortune'

Even though it has been decades since Elvis Presley first made us feel all shook up, the rock ‘n roll icon is still a looming and influential figure whose legend, along with the gritty details of his off-stage life, has become as well known as the timeless music he created. And while there have been a couple notable TV takes on his life — 1979 film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell and a 2005 movie with Jonathan Rhys Meyers — there has has never been a big screen account of Presley’s story. But all that is about change.

Movement is foraging ahead with “Fame & Fortune,” a biopic being primed for release in 2012 which will mark the 35th anniversary of Presley’s death, and they’ve picked the right man for the job. THR reports that John Scheinfeld will be in the director’s chair for the movie. Who? Scheinfeld is a longtime music documentarian who was behind last year’s solid “Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)” as well as “The U.S. vs. John Lennon.” Throughout his career he’s tackled docs on a wide ranging selection of recording artists, including Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and more, so this is very comfortable territory for the helmer. Whether Elvis’ fans or estate will be as comfortable remains to be seen.

The biopic will be based on the book “Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business” written by Presley’s former bodyguard Sonny West with biographer Marshall Terrill. The book is an uncompromising look at Presley’s life from someone who was a part of it for nearly decades (West was fired a year before Elvis’ death). Covering his career, relationships and meetings with various folks like The Beatles and Richard Nixon, the film will likely stick in the craw of the Presley estate who we presume won’t be associating themselves with the movie or providing any rights to his major songs. But with so much to draw from the film it’s still an interesting proposition. Here’s the Amazon synopsis:

Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business is one of the most authentic portraits ever written about one of the greatest American entertainers. It is a balanced, respectful, and insightful look at Elvis’s last two decades written by Sonny West, a true Presley insider and charter member of the infamous Memphis Mafia.

West, who worked and played with Presley from 1960 until the year before Elvis’s death in 1977, was there for it all. Many books about Presley are written by third parties who never even met the man. Not this book. West was like a brother to Elvis, and has great insight into one of the most beloved, yet complex, figures of the 20th century. Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business is a roller-coaster ride that follows Presley’s personal and professional ups and downs, his mercurial temper, his generous spirit, and his tragic decline. Sonny West had a front-row seat for it all, and now so will anyone who reads this book. Included are stories and photographs that have never been published before! A special section on former Memphis Mafia members called “Where Are They Now?” brings fans up-to-date on the lives of Elvis’ closest confidants. West also answers some tough questions from fans in a special appendix. Presented in an entirely different tone from West’s first book, Elvis: What Happened?, this is a loving, fun, and poignant book that is sure to enthrall Elvis Presley fans around the globe.

Now the major question remains: who to play the lead role? We guess we’ll find out soon as lensing should start by the end of the year. That will be one big, sequined jumpsuit to fill. We’re guessing the actor to fill it will likely be a largely unknown face, but maybe they can find Presley himself to do a cameo (because he’s still alive and hangin’ with Tupac right?).

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged ,


Greg Nolan

Doug Church is the perfect choice for any of the Elvis vocals. There is nobody in the Elvis Tribute Artist business that has the vocal power and Elvis tone as Doug.


Justin Scro wrote the first drafts of this screenplay with Sonny. The folks at RFL Victor Productions are trying to cut him out unjustly, steal his work, and are failing to fulfill the terms of the original writer’s contract.


Looks like Jamie Aaron Kelley’s people are working the boards for him. Or it’s him? Either way, good luck.

Zettie Pearce-Reed

So excited 7 looking forward to seeing this movie. I also think it’s a great idea to “introduce” an unknown actor as “Elvis” The person should have the look, the voice & the style of Elvis. An added bonus would be that the “perfect” appearing person would also be able to sing like Elvis..(I am thinking that if EPE would not be backing this project, they will not let the actual recordings of elvis be used). For me the perfect choice would have to be Jamie Aaron Kelley.I was not an Elvis fan until I saw Jamie starring in “Elvis Story” in 2005..because of his portrayal of Elvis, I became an Elvis fan. He is capable of pleasing the ‘die hard” Elvis fan & appeal to a whole new generation of future Elvis fans. Looking forward to more news!!!

Jaime Urroz

I think the producers will save a milion hours of wasting their energy and time if they simply call on for the casting of a person who is 6 feet tall, has dirt blonde hair, has a nose that looks like John Barrymore, has blue eyes, is 19 years old and weighs 170 pounds. This is what Elvis looked like before he became the world’s most famous entertainer and the timeline for the start of the biopic. For the rest of the movie, this actor will go through the changes Elvis went, but it was this guy, the one whose casting features I suggested earlier, the one who changed the lives of every person who saw him perform, in the tewo year period between 1954 and 1956. this is the Elvis that should be cast.

Barbara Garton

I agree that the role of elvis should be portrayed by an unknown face. An established actor brings too much baggage along with them. Audiences have preconceived images of actors who have played many other characters. One name comes to mind as the perfect Elvis for this role…… Jamie Aaron Kelley who starred as Elvis in the Canadian Broadway type show, Elvis Story. He’s the closest you are ever going to get to the voice, moves, personality and onstage/screen sex appeal. The selection of this director is wonderful! I’m an Elvis fan of over 50 years and am really looking forward to a film that does justice to Elvis Presley.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *