Thanks again, ElvisSessions! See you tomorrow!
Just two events to report on today: the Fan Club Presidents' Event, which has been opened up to anyone (who pays the modest admission fee, that is) and the first night of the Music and Movies. (Could someone else provide a dispatch from Gigi's Meet 'n' Greet?)
We started the day at the presidents' event. Clearly this was this year's substitute for the much-missed Fan Forum. However, the event lacked the freewheeling open-mike Q&A session of the forum. Instead, various staffers (mostly from marketing) paraded before us. All pleasant enough, but no sparks -- and sadly, not a lot of big scoops.
As far as new products go, suffice it to say, if you can put it in a jumpsuit, EPE will license it. There will be more Mickey Mouses in jumpsuits, in case one wasn't enough. And if that's too cartoonish, well, there's an adorable set of porcelain field mice in jumpsuits (?!) And, of course because you were clamoring for it, an entourage of M&M's in jumpsuits. Also, Elvis M&M's in snowglobes ... in jumpsuits. And, of course, Jesus and the 12 apostles in jumpsuits ... NO, we just made that up ... Don't get any ideas, EPE
But somebody's buying, or they wouldn't be making them. So, more power to them. At least there was no threat of a new creepy robotic head this year, so let's be grateful for that at least.
We suppose everyone's already heard about the two different Elvis and Priscilla wedding doll sets (plastic or porcelain, depending on your budget constraints, but to our eyes, the plastic may actually be the better likenesses.)
Truthfully, there weren't any big-deal product announcements. Interestingly, not a peep about the Christmas duets album at this meeting -- though we all know it's coming.
Instead they showed the video for the Spankox remix, and though there's still plenty of skin in it, the video in fact has been re-edited for the U.S. market to spare us some of the more, ahem, adult themes.
We also got the usual roundup of Elvis news clips from the last year. Old news, sure, but when you see them all compressed in a few minutes, you realize what a busy year it's been, starting with coverage of the 30th anniversary concert and Lisa Marie's In the Ghetto duet. Also, we had wrapups of the attention paid to the comeback special and Army induction anniversaries. And, of course, we saw clips from Dancing With the Stars.
We got the first in a series of plugs for the new Walmart exclusive Viva Las Vegas TV special DVD, which goes on sale Tuesday.
There were the usual drawings for items such as that DVD and the new Comeback Special four-CD set (which is a beauty, by the way, even if it doesn't include any material that's new to the obsessive collectors among us).
So, if there wasn't much news on music, movies or merchandise, what distinguished this fan club event? Well, it was the moving tributes to Todd Morgan. Jack Soden started it off and speaker after speaker honored our deeply missed friend.
For those of us who were able to make it to EPE's memorial service in April, we knew what to expect. But for others, this was their chance to let the tears flow as the speakers choked up and the treasured photos and videos were shown.
Jack promised we'd be hearing more about Todd, and we hope EPE has some special words of honor reserved for him on vigil night, the time when many of us will miss him most of all.
As if our heartstrings hadn't been tugged enough, we then heard from a grateful resident of Presley Place. She talked about all the services the charity provides and how they had saved her and her young son. Once again, much of the audience was in tears.
That set the stage for a parade of fan club representatives to hand their checks to officials from various Memphis-area charities, including the Humane Society and, of course, St. Jude's.
Several fan club leaders took the stage to offer advice on fund-raising, and the results of their efforts spoke for themselves as the dollars accumulated.
Finally, Joe Moscheo, Terry Blackwood and Sherman Andrus of the Imperials took their seats on the stage to entertain the audience. But they didn't sing to us ... we did the singing, to Joe, who was celebrating his 71st birthday. (Thanks to the Sweet, Sweet Spirit fan club of Ohio for being thoughtful enough to provide a lovely trophy to Joe to mark the occasion.)
All three Imperials in attendance shared memories of Elvis, but Joe and Sherman, especially, had good stories to recount. Joe spoke of meeting Elvis for the first time in 1960 at a gospel quartets competition in Memphis. All but unknown at that time, Joe was amazed that Elvis knew him and the work he had done as an accompanying pianist. Joe spoke of how he bashfully asked Elvis for his autograph, only to be put at ease by Elvis' asking for his signature in return.
Sherman's story similarly illustrated Elvis' fundamental decency, as he told of meeting Elvis for the first time and joking with him about needing a TCB of his own, even though he'd never performed with Elvis. He may have thought he was kidding, but you know Elvis ... sure enough, next time they crossed paths, Elvis handed him a box that held a TCB -- and another piece of jewelry.
It sometimes seems everyone who met Elvis has a story like this, and all of them seem to have been awed by the experience. We're so fortunate Elvis Week gives us so many opportunities to hear these stories.
OK, wow, this is a long report already, so let's move along briskly and wrap this up.
The first night of Movies and Music gave us a chance to truly revel in the cool weather. Although the staff members were handing out fans, who needed them? It was a sweat-free night.
Andy Childs and his band took the stage while we waited for nightfall so the movie could start. Andy's set was familiar to those of us who have seen him before, though the show included a heavy acoustic emphasis, with Andy going "unplugged" and solo for the middle portion of the performance. That gave several of the standards a different, folksy feel. Perhaps not quite as rousing as the full band treatment, but for the Elvis Week veterans, a fresh approach is always appreciated. The peformance suited the weather and the lower-key Elvis Week we've been enjoying so far. Mellow.
But just in case anyone felt cheated, Andy made sure to close with the signature Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On, including the patter and band introductions many of you may remember from last year's event.
Jerry Schilling and George Klein took the stage briefly to make some remarks on the Viva Las Vegas TV special, among other things. But nothing too earth-shattering. Yes, G.K., we spotted you in the movie right away
And as for that movie ... perhaps you've heard of it .... a little film called Jailhouse Rock?
What is there to say, the movie was great -- as always -- and the fans loved it -- as always. Of course, they showed us the recently restored version, so it looked immaculate and sounded great.
And tonight's report from Graceland Crossing ... positive again, for the third night running. A good-sized crowd deep into the night, and consitently good performances on the stage. Graceland Crossing is the best place to take Elvis Week's pulse, and we're pleased to report it's strong and steady this year!