'American Idol' Owners Plan Elvis Presley Projects, Show Revamp

Graceland upgrade in the works, duets album and hologram tour possible

Elvis Presley
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Elvis Presley
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The company that owns the rights to American Idol is restructuring in light of the show's ratings drop and developing projects for its other assets, including the creative exploitation of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, the New York Times reports.

CKx, which will change its name to Core Media Group, has especially big plans in store for Presley: an upgrade of the Graceland museum is in the works, as well as a possible drama series based on the singer's early life. Core is also in talks with Sony about a potential duets album, which would pair contemporary singers with Presley in much the same way that past duets albums have done with Frank Sinatra. A subsequent tour may see singers performing alongside an Elvis hologram.

Meanwhile, Core is also planning a revamp of Idol, which comes on the tail of the show's 30% ratings decline in its 11th season this year. The drop coincides with the rise of newer singing competitions, like NBC's The Voice and Fox's The X Factor. "Idol is still the gold standard," Core's new president Marc Graboff told the Times. "It’s very viable, but it definitely needs to be refreshed and it will be." 

Graboff says the company will reteam with original Idol creator Simon Fuller to help make the changes, which include a likely overhaul of Idol's voting system. The current one has produced winners of a similar profile for five seasons straight, most recently 21-year-old Georgia rocker Phillip Phillips. "They're being called W.G.W.G.'s – white guys with guitars," said Graboff.

It's possible that the judges panel (currently Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson) will see a change, too, said Graboff – but that decision falls under the purview of Fox, which broadcasts Idol. "We hope it will stay as big a revenue stream as it has been," said Graboff. "But no matter how big the stream is, my job is to diversify us away from it as much as possible."