April 19, 2006 20:16

Elvis impersonators under threat

They could be put out of business

Elvis impersonators under threat
Elvis Presley impersonators are under threat of being put of business.

America’s estimated 30,000 Elvis impressionists could be forced to give up work after a New York businessman bought the rights to the legend’s name and likeness.

Billionaire Robert Sillerman – who also owns the TV show 'American Idol' – last year paid $114 million (£65 million) for an 85 per cent stake in Elvis Presley Enterprises, which is run by Presley’s family.

Though the rights do not extend to the singer’s music, Sillerman now has control of Graceland in Memphis, and control of the King’s name and likeness.

Previously the Presley family, through Elvis Presley Enterprises, have allowed the majority of impersonators free use of Elvis’ name and likeness.

However, speaking to the New York Times, Sillerman has revealed plans to open an interactive Elvis exhibit and an Elvis-themed cabaret show on the Las Vegas Strip, which could mean the end of the line for impressionists.

“If we were going to do a show that was based on Elvis impersonators, then obviously it wouldn’t make sense to have unauthorised Elvis impersonators,” he said.

Sillerman has also announced plans to demolish the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel, which is situated opposite Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard, and build two 400-room hotels, restaurants, an amphitheatre and shops.

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