The CKX entrepreneur who owns American Idol – we’ll call him Robert Sillerman – paid $114 million last year for 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which gave him control of Graceland and the Pelvic One’s name and likeness – everything but the music. And since the estimated 30,000 Elvis impersonators – from mini to maxi, flawless to freaky, and of every nationality – are, strictly speaking, considered likenesses, they’re quaking in their blue suede shoes. Sillerman, who plans to open an interactive Elvis exhibit and cabaret show on the Las Vegas Strip and to demolish the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel opposite Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard to make room for two 400-room hotels, has not yet delivered an edict on the fate of the motley mimics, but has said, “If we were going to do a show that was based on Elvis impersonators, then obviously it wouldn’t make sense to have unauthorized Elvis impersonators.” Oh, Bob, don’t be cruel.
CKX is powerless to take action against impersonators in Europe, including Britain, where the Elvis image is in the public domain. Mr Sillerman says that he does not believe that Elvis Presley Enterprises has used Presley nearly to his full potential in the US. Impersonators in America believe that it is inevitable that their industry — which includes dwarf Elvises, Chinese Elvises and African-American Elvises — is in for a cull.