For more than a year, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley sorted through the vast Presley family archives at Graceland, selecting cherished images and songs for a new TV special, Elvis by the Presleys. As part of Elvis week on CBS, the two-hour program will peer into the King's private world with intimate family reminiscences, home movies and rare concert footage. (There's also a new two-CD set of the same name from Sony BMG, for $19.98.) Nearly 30 years have passed since her ex-husband's death, but the task, as Priscilla reveals here, left her all shook up.
TV Guide: Why did you decide to open the vaults on this material right now?
Priscilla Presley: You can't deny the passion that's out there for Elvis. On the anniversary of his death, 70,000 people come to Graceland with candles. It's overwhelming. But we realized there's a whole new generation that doesn't really know who Elvis was. Children, people in their twenties, thirties. They're the ones who made "A Little Less Conversation" a hit song, and they're hungry to learn more about the man.
Presley: Well, it's the first time Lisa has spoken publicly about her father, and fans will be very much interested in that. She being an only child and with Elvis dying when she was so young, it's a very moving account. The home-movie footage is probably the most emotional material. There's footage of Elvis giving his mother gifts, and you really get a sense of her fear of him becoming famous. My parents also speak about our wedding, our divorce. TVG: What kind of son-in-law was Elvis?
Presley: When my parents came around, Elvis was on his best behavior. There was a point when I used to pretend I had another room so they wouldn't know Elvis and I were staying together. Elvis was very respectful, but there are some funny scenes of him driving my mother and father in golf carts at Graceland and scaring them to death with his driving. TVG: What was it like going through this material?
Presley: It was hard at times. On one hand because there was so much of it, but also because it brings you back to the simpler side of Elvis, his playfulness. It's not the Elvis everybody thinks they know, but it's the person who was a father, a husband, a son. Lisa and I, we cried sometimes. TVG: How often do you throw an Elvis CD on the stereo and just listen?
Presley: It's not easy for me to do. If I want to drown in my tears, then one of his pieces will certainly suit. When his music comes on the radio, it's still quite an experience. I'm used to it, but I lived those songs. It's more than songs. It's my history, too. TVG: Has there ever been an Elvis impersonator that impressed you?
Presley: I'll say this: There's no one I've ever seen who can stand in Elvis' shoes and be anything close to who he was. Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Myers steps into the King's shoes again tonight at 8 pm/ET for the conclusion of CBS' Elvis miniseries. To learn more, read today's Insider interview with his costar, Randy Quaid.