Thursday, April 3, 2008

Elton Produces & Stars in New TV Series

They may hail from different musical realms, but British pop icons Elvis Costello and Elton John are coming together to collaborate on a TV series that will air on CTV and around the world.

Titled Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... , the new series will feature performances and one-on-one discussions between Costello and top names in the music business. The Canadian-British production is executive-produced by John's company, Rocket Pictures.

But it all started here. Long in the making, the series was conceived nearly 10 years ago by former music journalist Stephen Warden of Reinvention Entertainment, who took the idea to entertainment lawyer Jordan Jacobs of SpyBox Pictures and film producer Martin Katz of Prospero Pictures. (Katz was already acquainted with John and his life partner, Canadian David Furnish.) Based in Toronto, the three men formed Tri-Fi Productions to produce the series.

"We took the idea to Elton two years ago," says Warden, one of seven executive producers listed on the series along with Furnish. "He got excited and said, 'Let's do this.'

The time since has been spent setting up broadcast deals. Scheduled for 13 one-hour episodes, Spectacle will probably make its debut on CTV this fall, and will also air in the United States on the Sundance Channel and on Channel 4 in Britain.

There's an iron wall of secrecy surrounding the list of music-industry giants who will appear on the series, but it's a safe bet John will be among them. "That would be a very good guess," Warden says.

In keeping with John's long-time commitment to philanthropic causes, the series is partly designed to help combat AIDS in Africa. Program excerpts will be sold via new media and to international broadcasters, with some profits directed to the Global Fund.

The choice of Costello to host the program was an easy one to make. "Elvis and Elton are very close friends," Warden says. "Elvis runs the gamut as an artist and the show will cover every musical genre imaginable."

Winner of multiple Grammys over his three-decade career, Costello drew rave reviews when he assumed the host role on Late Show with David Letterman while Letterman was recovering from heart surgery.

A noted musicologist and contributor to Vanity Fair magazine, who married Canadian jazz chanteuse Diana Krall in 2003 on Elton John's estate, Costello plans to keep things light and breezy. "I'm not interested in extracting some dark secret," he said in a press release. "I'd rather hear about a bright secret, a deep love or a curiosity that might be otherwise obscured by fame."

John describes his countryman pop star as "the foremost expert on popular music. I thought it would be sensational to use his knowledge and intelligence to explore the artistry of musicians and other fascinating people involved in making great music, as well as true music aficionados."

The show will be shot in New York (Costello and his family live there and in Vancouver). Taping begins next week.

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