Director reflects on documentary 'Finding Elvis: The '68 Comeback'

Monday, July 31, 2023
Director reflects on documentary 'Finding Elvis: The '68 Comeback'
John Scheinfeld's new documentary out this summer tells the story of "Reinventing Elvis," how a single TV show revived his career back in 1968. Sandy Kenyon has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- John Scheinfeld has earned both Emmy and Grammy nominations for his TV documentaries about music and his new one out this summer tells the story of "Reinventing Elvis," how a single TV show revived his career back in 1968.

Although his subjects include some of the most famous artists that have ever lived, his name may not ring a bell. However, Scheinfeld says that's just the way he likes it.

When ABC wanted to remember the "Happy Days" of the late Garry Marshall, they turned to a director with more than two decades of experience making documentaries, but most often his films focus on those who make music.

John Coltrane is familiar to many of us -- John Lennon is familiar to just about all of us. John Scheinfeld? Not so much.

"The fact that my name is less well-known to the public is actually a help I think," Scheinfeld said.

To this filmmaker, the story is the star and few stories are more dramatic than the 1968 comeback of Elvis Presley because he was performing in front of an audience for the first time in nine years.

"You find people that were there at the time that were witnesses to what was going on, and you talk to them," he said.

"It's a great American, authentic, original finding himself again," the trailer for "Reinventing Elvis: The '68 Comeback" said.

"I wanted people that were in the audience that actually saw Elvis. What did you see in the room that day when they were shooting? How did you feel about it?" Scheinfeld said.

The result is both a portrait of the man behind the myth and a mirror held up to a society in turmoil more than half a century ago.

"What was going on specifically in 1968 that made that the most-watched TV show of the year?" he said.

Context is key here and always answering the question: why should we care as much as he does?

"Not just presenting facts but more taking a deep dive into what made that person tick? And, why did they do what they did? And how did it impact their lives?" Scheinfeld said.

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