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Biopic about Elvis Presley's manager The Colonel in development

Elvis Presley Tom Parker

Unfortunately, the music industry is full of terrible deals which take advantage of talent, and even a superstar like Elvis Presley wasn't immune. Before Presley's stardom exploded with the release of "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1956, he signed a contract with Tom Parker which made Parker his exclusive representative in all aspects of his career. Although Elvis Presley went on to gain great success in the realm of music and films, a large amount of his earnings, as much as 50% by 1967, went to the man known as The Colonel.

Variety reports that a feature film exploring the life of Colonel Tom Parker is currently in development from Spencer Proffer (GODS AND MONSTERS), Steve Binder (ELVIS 68) and Joe Berlinger (PARADISE LOST). Production is expected to kick off by early 2018 and the screenplay will be based on Alanna Nash's "The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley." Nash will co-write the script alongside Joe Berlinger. In a statement, Spencer Proffer said:

I have wanted to work with Joe for years, given his unique filmmaker’s eye toward marrying music-anchored stories with dramatic storytelling. Given that I am a big fan of his Metallica and Paul Simon films, plus Joe’s award-winning crime documentaries, he became my first choice to direct this evergreen and important film. Parker’s story has such a dark edge, and this is precisely why Berlinger’s combo of crime and music documentaries lends the perfect tone for the film.

Steve Binder, who directed Elvis Presley's 1968 comeback special on NBC, added that he's looking "forward to working with Spencer, Joe, and Alanna on the making of this film. The Colonel’s ‘real’ story has never been told, and I promise it will have you on the edge of your seat. I was there and I knew the Colonel. Move over P.T. Barnum, the ride is about to begin!" Alanna Nash knew Colonel Tom Parker towards the end of his life, and her book apparently reveals the improbable, shocking, and never less than compelling, true-story of how this larger-than-life man made, and then unmade, popular music’s first and greatest superstar.

A synopsis of "The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley" via Amazon:

Almost the only indisputable fact about Colonel Tom Parker is that he was the manager of the greatest performer in popular music: Elvis Presley. His real name wasn’t Tom Parker – indeed, he wasn’t an American at all, but a Dutch immigrant called Andreas van Kujik. And he certainly wasn’t a proper military colonel: he purchased his title from a man in Louisiana. But while the Colonel has long been acknowledged as something of a charlatan, this book is the first to reveal the extraordinary extent of the secrets he concealed, and the consequences for the career, and ultimately the life, of the star he managed.

As Alanna Nash’ prodigious research has discovered, the Colonel left Holland most probably because, at the age of twenty, he bludgeoned a woman to death. Entering the US illegally, he then enlisted in the army as ‘Tom Parker’. But, with supreme irony for someone later styling himself as Colonel, Parker’s military career ended in desertion, and discharge after a psychiatrist had certified him as a psychopath. He then became a fairground barker, working sideshows with a zeal for small-scale huckstering and the casual scam that never left him. And by the height of Elvis’s success, Parker had become a pathological gambler who, at the same time as he was taking, amazingly, a full 50% of Presley’s earnings, frittered away all his wealth in the casinos of Las Vegas.

As Nash shows, therefore, the often baffling trajectory of Elvis Presley’s career makes perfect sense once the secret imperatives of the Colonel’s life are known. Parker never booked Presley for a tour of Europe because of the dark secret that ensured he himself could never return there. Even at his most famous, Elvis was still being booked to play out-of-the-way towns in North Carolina – because the former fairground barker (who shamelessly negotiated as such even with top record company and film executives) knew them from his days on the circus circuit. And Elvis was trapped playing years of arduous seasons in Las Vegas – two shows nightly, seven days a week, until boredom and despair brought on the excessive drug use that killed him – because for Parker he was “an open chit” whose huge earnings prevented his manager’s losses at the gambling tables being called in.

Do you have a favourite Elvis Presley film?

Source: Variety

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