"The King" to air on PBS this Sunday

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Is the promise of the "American Dream" alive or a concept that's faded in the rear-view mirror? 

Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip across America in search of not only Elvis's legacy but the fate of the American Dream and the consequences of "cashing in" to try to achieve it. The King is a cautionary snapshot of America at a critical time in the nation’s history, painting a parallel portrait of the nation’s own heights and depths, from its inspired origins to its perennial struggles with race, class, power, and money.   

From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind. A diverse cast of regular Americans join music icons and celebrities including Rosanne Cash, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris (who says in the film, “Maybe [Elvis] was the king but he was doomed”), Van Jones, Ethan Hawke, Mike Myers, and Dan Rather, among many others, woven in with soaring live performances from artists as varied as teen Nashville phenomenon EmiSunshine, Mississippi bluesman Leo Bud Welch, New York City rapper Immortal Technique, the cool West Coast sounds of M. Ward, and the gospel stylings of Memphis’s Stax Music Academy.

Catch “The King” on PBS Independent Lens, airing on most PBS stations this Sunday. Check your local listings!

Reed Watson