Remembering the King: VisionTV celebrates Elvis Presley's 75th birthday

TORONTO, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - Elvis Aaron Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, into the humblest of circumstances. By the time of his death in 1977, he had rewritten the history of popular music. Today, more than 30 years after his passing, Elvis remains the undisputed King of Rock 'n' Roll.

In 2010, fans around the world will celebrate Elvis Presley's 75th birthday. Highlights will range from special events at his Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee to the premiere of Cirque du Soleil's new Viva ELVIS extravaganza in Las Vegas. To learn more, check out the King's official site, www.elvis.com.

Canada's VisionTV pays its own birthday tribute to Elvis in the New Year with a series of prime time documentaries, movies and music specials airing from Wednesday, Jan. 6 to Friday, Jan. 8.

For more information on VisionTV programming, please visit www.visiontv.ca.

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REMEMBERING THE KING: A 75TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO ELVIS ON VISIONTV

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Famous Families: The Presley Family

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT

Elvis Presley was born in a tiny, two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, the only son of impoverished day labourers. By his early 20s he was rock 'n' roll royalty, and his home was the palatial Graceland estate in Memphis. But the King never forgot where he came from. This two-hour documentary, hosted by Mariel Hemingway, recalls Elvis's tumultuous life and times, and traces the branches of his family tree. The film takes an intimate look at Presley's relationships with his parents, Vernon and Gladys, his stepbrothers from Vernon's second marriage, his wife Priscilla and his only child, daughter Lisa Marie. It also examines the influence - for better or worse - of the colorful figures who surrounded him at Graceland, including his manager, the notorious Colonel Tom Parker, and the members of his entourage, the so-called "Memphis Mafia." And it reveals how Priscilla set about preserving the King's legacy after his death in 1977, turning the Presley Estate into one of the entertainment world's most successful businesses.

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Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT

There will never be another showman like Elvis Presley. Staged to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the King's death, this electrifying concert event recreates the thrill of his epic live performances. High-tech magic reunites Elvis with all of his greatest collaborators, including the TCB Band and The Jordanaires, before an ecstatic audience in Memphis, Tennessee. The flesh-and-blood musicians provide seamless accompaniment to classic footage of Elvis in concert, bringing to life more than two dozen of his most beloved hits.

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Love Me Tender

Thursday, Jan. 7, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT

Elvis Presley fans consider the King's screen debut in this 1956 Civil War drama to be one of his best performances. (Not everyone agreed. Bosley Crowther, critic for The New York Times, called the film a "horse opera with the heaves," to which "Mr. Presley's dramatic contribution is not a great deal more impressive than that of one of the slavering nags." Ouch.) Richard Egan has top billing as Confederate soldier Vance Reno, who returns home to find his sweetheart (Debra Paget) stolen away by his younger brother Clint (Presley). Sibling rivalry and a stolen Union army payroll lead inevitably to tragedy. Happily, Elvis gets to sing a number of songs - including the title tune, a number one ballad - before the film's heart-rending finale. Robert D. Webb directed. The infamous Colonel Tom Parker, the King's manager and architect of his ultimately ill-fated screen career, is credited as a "technical advisor."

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Kid Galahad

Thursday, Jan. 7, 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT

This 1962 Elvis Presley vehicle - a remake of the 1937 feature with Edward G. Robinson - stars the King as a naïve, good-hearted prizefighter known as "Kid Galahad," whose talents hold the promise of salvation for a small-time boxing promoter played by Gig Young. In the grand tradition of Elvis movies, there's a pretty girl to be won (Joan Blackman) and songs to be sung along the way ("King of the Whole Wide World," "This is Living" and "I Got Lucky," among others.) With Charles Bronson. Phil Karlson (Walking Tall) directed.

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Love Me Tender: The Love Songs of Elvis

Friday, Jan. 8, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT

Elvis Presley rose to fame as a riotous rock 'n' roll instigator, and his earliest hits were fast and furious numbers brimming with sexual magnetism and explosive teenage energy. But from the very beginning, he also recorded tender love songs - and indeed, the King took pride in his reputation as a masterful ballad singer. This musical documentary, hosted by actress Ashley Judd (Frida), tells the true stories behind Elvis Presley's greatest love songs, and features unforgettable television, movie and concert footage of the King performing such romantic favourites as "It's Now Or Never," "Are You Lonesome Tonight," "Can't Help Falling In Love," "Always On My Mind" and, of course, the immortal "Love Me Tender." The two-hour film was written by veteran music journalist Chet Flippo, and features reminiscences from some of Elvis's long-time musical collaborators, including members of The Jordanaires, The Imperials and The Sweet Inspirations.

Love Me Tender: The Love Songs of Elvis will be available to be streamed online for a limited time from VisionTV Video on Demand: http://video.visiontv.ca/

* For more information on VisionTV programming, please visit www.visiontv.ca

* To see full programs and exclusive clips, check out http://video.visiontv.ca/

* Follow VisionTV on Twitter: www.twitter.com/visiontv

* Check out VisionTV on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/VisionTV2

SOURCE VISIONTV

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: David Todd, Media Relations Manager, VisionTV, Phone: (416) 368-3194, ext. 207, Email: dtodd@s-vox.com

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