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Press conference September 4, 1972.

Desert Sun, 26 March 1973

 

Television Has First Triple Crown Director

HOLLYWOOD (UPI) - Five years ago Marty Pasetta was a producer for KGO-TV in San Francisco. Tomorrow night he will be at the helm of the Academy Awards show becoming television’s first triple crown director. He also directed the Grammy Awards earlier this month and will be in the control booth for the Emmy Awards May 20. “I'll be looking at 30 television monitors during the Oscars presentations," said Pasetta, a 40-year-old native of Santa Clara, Calif, “everything is split second timing, and if I make an error it’s seen immediately by millions and millions of viewers. “But I like the pressure. What I don’t like is the possibility of being typed as a guy who specializes only in awards shows.” Pasetta is an easy going man with a cheerful disposition. He shows no signs of developing ulcers despite the demands of his job. “This year’s Oscar show is my second,” he said. “Last year we tried to break with tradition and I think we succeeded. It was the first time the presentations were done for viewers at home instead of for the show business crowd in the theater. "I’m directing these shows as I would any television special rather than a news event. Entertainment is the name of the game."

In his brief span of Hollywood years Pasetta was director of “The Glen Campbell Show,” The Andy Williams Show” and a score of others including specials with Bing Crosby and Goldie Hawn. His biggest opportunity to inject new ideas into musical spectaculars for the tube, however, is not an award show but “Elvis — Aloha Special,” marking Elvis Presley’s first television appearance in a dozen years. “That goes on the air in this country April 4,” Pasetta said enthusiastically. "It’s already been seen in much of the world by satellite. NBC told me more people will have seen that special in the next few weeks than any other entertainment show in history. “It got an unheard of 78 per cent share of the audience in Japan and a 91 share in the Philippines. It will be seen as a film in Africa." The Presley show and the various awards presentations probably give Pasetta a larger audience than any director has enjoyed since video first flickered its antenna.

 

“I get a kick out of personally sealing about 300 stars for the Oscars.” he said. “I must be careful not to embarrass any of the nominees by having the winner pass by him or her on the way to pick up an award. The seating arrangement is almost as complicated as doing the show.

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April 5, 1973. The NY Times.

 

Presley Pure Showbiz in 'Aloha Hawaii'

By JOHN J. O'CONNOR

The National Broadcasting Company does, I suppose deserve credit. In this season of repeats, it turned out two original specials last night. One, from 8:30 to 10, was "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii." The other, from 10 to 11, was "Ann-Margret ── When You're Smiling." Trivia collectors will immediately pounce upon the fact that Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret were co-stars in a mid- sixties movie that had something to do about Las Vegas.

Mr. Presley ── no, that sounds downright silly ── Elvis is the more proven entertainment commodity. Bursting out of country music's relatively youthful strain of "rock-a-billie" around 1960, he bumped his way to national notoriety with such hits as "Hound Dog" and "Blue Suede Shoes." Appearing on Ed Sullivan's TV variety show, he was generally restricted to camera shots not going below the belt. Those were the television days of innocence and total absurdity.

But Elvis has survived. He is still churning out hit records, and his relentlessly unmemorable movies have made millions of dollars. He is now allowed full-body shots on the home screen and, not surprisingly, none but the hyper-uptight is likely to be shocked.

That particular evolution could prompt learned dissertations on the spread of permissiveness in these United States. There are no restrictions on nonsense. A more pertinent point, however, would be the evolution, with the careful orchestration of his mentor, Col. Tom Parker, of Elvis as calculated and calculating showman.

Elvis, at 38 years of age, is schmaltz. His white jumpsuit costume is adorned, in jeweled studs, with American eagles. His repertory includes a medley of "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Hush Little Baby." His fingers are clogged with flashy rings. His act includes tossing scarves, dabbed in sweat from his chest, to aging teeny boppers. It is pure showbiz in the style of Radio City Music Hall, reeking of apple pie or, more precisely, peanut butter and jelly, distinctly grape.

That is precisely the act captured on the N.B.C. special "Aloha From Hawaii," which with minor changes in locale could have been transformed easily into "Shalom From the Bronx." Most of the program was put together from tapes of a benefit performance in January before 6,000 persons at the Honolulu International Center. That concert, incidentally, was transmitted live by satellite to a potential TV audience of 1.5 billion people in nearly 40 countries.

About 30 minutes of last night's special consisted of material taped outside the concert. For the most part, this consisted of Elvis singing in one corner of the screen, surrounded by travelogue scenes of Hawaii. The executive producers were Elvis Presley and R.C.A. Record Tours. Elvis records for R.C.A. Records, which is owned by the RCA Corporation, which is the parent of N.B.C., which needs no further comment.

Smartly produced and directed by Marty Pasetta, the program maintained an effective and attractive fluidity, not easy with "live" concerts on TV. Elvis fans should have been delighted. The less committed may have been impressed, however reluctantly, by the shameless old fangled showmanship of it all.

Aloha From Hawaii. Longtime television d

Aloha From Hawaii. Longtime television director Marty Pasetta, right, is photographed with Elvis Presley. Pasetta directed numerous live television programs including Presley's 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert.

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Bruce Fessier, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun

Published May 10, 2013.

 

NBC aired the 90-minute special Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite after a shorter version was seen around the globe on Jan. 14, 1973.

It was the first time satellite technology was used to transmit a live concert around the world. In the 2004 deluxe DVD of Aloha, Elvis Presley Enterprises said the special attracted between 1 billion and 1.5 billion viewers.

Those figures now seem dubious. Aloha was transmitted to 38 nations, but Alan Hanson says in his Elvis History Blog the combined populations of those countries was 1.3 billion. The Guinness Book of World Records says the largest TV audience for a performance was the 1993 Super Bowl halftime show by Michael Jackson, which drew 133.4 million viewers.

But the project gave Presley one last credit to add to his legend.

The idea for a satellite broadcast was conceived by Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, while they both lived part-time in Palm Springs in 1972. Parker sold the idea to RCA, which owned NBC, and NBC's vice president of nighttime programming, part-time Palm Springs resident John Hamlin, assigned it to Marty Pasetta.

Pasetta, who now lives in La Quinta, Calif., says he's not sure how many people saw the broadcast.

"What I was told by NBC and others is that every third person on Earth saw that first show when it went out," Pasetta said in his memorabilia-laden home office. "In Africa and places like that, it played in theaters. They didn't have television."

By the accounts of those closest to him, the Aloha concert was the last time Presley suspended his prescription drug abuse and performed at his optimum 175-pound weight.

Biographer Peter Guralnick and bodyguard Sonny West credit Pasetta for inspiring the singer to clean up his act. In his biography, Elvis: Taking Care of Business, West said Presley had been using Demerol and Dilaudid, which gave him a powerful craving for sugar. After meeting Pasetta, West said Presley insisted that he and two other bodyguards join him on a diet that included a daily injection of protein taken from the urine of a pregnant woman to burn up the fat in his system.

Pasetta said he told Presley at their first sit-down meeting, attended by two bodyguards, he had to lose weight before the concert.

 

"He sat straight and the guys on either side of him took out their guns and laid them down on the table," said Pasetta. "And if you don't think I was scared, you're crazy.

"I said, 'I want you skinny because I'm going to use close-ups,' which wasn't very popular in television in those days. I said, 'I'm going to go from your neck to the top of your head. That's going to be your sex (appeal) on the tube, along with your voice, and it's going to make a landmark.'

"He jumped out his chair. He grabbed me, put his arms around me and said, 'You're the first person who was ever honest to me.' He said, 'I will lose the weight for you,' and he lost 20 pounds in two months."

Working with Elvis

Pasetta, who started his career in San Francisco, directed the Smothers Brothers and Glen Campbell variety shows before focusing on specials by the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Goldie Hawn and Hawaiian legend Don Ho. He was just coming off his Academy Awards broadcast directorial debut when Hamlin offered him the opportunity to work with Presley.

Pasetta wasn't sure he wanted to do it at first. Hamlin told him to watch Presley at the Long Beach Arena that November and Presley gave an uninspiring performance.

"He stood there like a lump," said Pasetta. "He didn't do anything. I went back to NBC and said, 'Hey, guys, what am I going to do with this guy? How long is the show? 90 minutes? I can't tap dance that much. It doesn't look like he's going to move.' They said, 'That's your problem.' "

The concert film would feature Presley giving a one-hour benefit concert at the Honolulu International Convention Center. Pasetta tried to provide an international reach by putting Elvis' name on the set in various international alphabets and fonts. He also tried to convey Presley's romantic appeal, much to Parker's consternation.

"I wanted to put a runway in, 8 foot wide, so he could walk down the center," said Pasetta. "I wanted to put girls around there and I wanted the stage 6 feet off of the floor. The Colonel always had the stage 10 feet above the floor and he had guards across the front. He didn't want to have anybody touch his boy.

"When I told this to the Colonel, he had a fit. He said, 'I'm not lowering the stage. I'm going to have my guards there and he can stand there and sing.' I said, 'That's not going to work on the tube for an hour and a half show.' He said, 'No. I won't do it. You can't do the show.' "

But Pasetta says Presley loved his ideas and, in one of the few instances in his career, he overruled his manager.

"Elvis said to me, 'The Colonel controls my business. I control my creativity and my music and my show. He has nothing to say about it. That's your rule. You will deal with Joe Esposito,' who was sort of a go-between," said Pasetta. "I talked to Joe, the Colonel — everybody. But I tried not to deal too much with the Colonel. I had enough problems getting the show on."

Show revealed Elvis' decline

The production was fraught with technical problems. A day before the broadcast, it was discovered someone had cut the power lines going into the auditorium. Pasetta called Don Ho and, "He got people out of bed and they came back and fixed it just in time."

The day of the show, it was discovered the backstage equipment was creating a humming sound. Pasetta called Ho again and, "Don said, 'Call the Navy yard.' We had a truckload lead sheets that were brought over two hours before the show and we lined them up and got our sound back."

Then, at the start of the show, knowing they had to shoot the entire concert continuously, "My technical director froze on me," Pasetta said. "I had to cut the first part of the show. He was nervous."

The soundtrack entered the Billboard charts on Feb. 24, bolstered by Presley's best reviews in years. It would be his last No. 1 album. The next week, Parker signed a seven-year deal for Presley to remain with RCA.

Aloha From Hawaii, which was padded with extra songs and B-roll for the 90-minute U.S. broadcast, also temporarily quieted demands for Presley to tour overseas, something Parker was reticent to do. But it also revealed the singer's physical decline.

Presley still had that trademark smirk, especially when women screamed for his attention, and he showed real passion on James Taylor's jocular Steamroller Blues. But, like at Long Beach, he didn't move much.

His song selection revealed his emotional decline. He sang Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, calling it, "the saddest song I ever heard." He also sang the Frank Sinatra anthem, My Way, about a man looking back at his life now that "the end is near."

The next day, Presley was too groggy to visit the SS Arizona Memorial in the Honolulu harbor, as had been planned.

"It was drugs," Pasetta said. "And he was lazy. He didn't want to do any (weight-loss exercise). He just sat around."

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San Bernardino Sun, 6 April 1973

Elvis May Be Schmaltzy, but He Outclasses Ann-Margret

By JOHN J. O'CONNOR New York Times News Service

NEW YORK ─ The National Broadcasting Co. does, I suppose, deserve credit. In this season of repeats, it turned out two original specials Wednesday night. One, from 8:30 to 10 was "Elvis Aloha From Hawaii." The other, from 10 to 11, was "Ann-Margret When You're Smiling." Trivia collectors will immediately pounce upon the fact that Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret were costars in a mid-Sixties movie that had something to do about Las Vegas. Presley ─ no, that sounds downright silly Elvis is the more proven entertainment commodity. Bursting out of country music's relatively youthful strain of "Rock-A-Billy" around 1960, he bumped and grinded his way to national notoriety with such hits as "Hound Dog" and "Blue Suede Shoes." Appearing on Ed Sullivan's TV variety show, he was generally restricted to camera shots not going below the belt. Those were the television days of innocence and total absurdity . . .

 

But Elvis has survived. He is still churning out hit records, and his relentlessly unmemorable movies have made millions of dollars. He is now allowed full-body shots on the home screen and, not surprisingly, none but the hyper-uptight is likely to be shocked. Elvis, at 38 years of age, is schmaltz. His white jumpsuit costume is adorned, in jeweled studs, with American eagles. His repertory includes a medley of "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Hush Little Baby." His fingers are clogged with flashy rings. His act includes tossing scarves, dabbed in sweat from his chest, to aging teeny boppers.

 

It is pure showbiz in the style of Radio City Music Hall, reeking of apple pie or, more precisely, peanut butter and jelly, distinctly grape. That is precisely the act captured on the NBC special "Aloha From Hawaii," which with minor changes in locale could have been transformed easily into "Shalom From the Bronx." Most of the program was put together from tapes of a benefit performance in January before 6,000 persons at the Honolulu International Center. That concert, incidentally, was transmitted live by satellite to a potential TV audience of 1.5 billion people in nearly 40 countries. About 30 minutes of Wednesday night's special consisted of material taped outside the concert.

 

For the most part, this consisted of Elvis singing in one corner of the screen, surrounded by travelog scenes of Hawaii. The executive producers were Elvis Presley and RCA Record Tours. Elvis records for RCA Records, which is owned by RCA, which is a parent of NBC, which needs no further comment.

 

Ann-Margaret is not a proven entertainment commodity and, after Wednesday night's special, there are distressing indications that, she may never be one. Taped at the Hilton International Hotel in Las Vegas, the program primarily displayed an act she has developed for night clubs. It's not that Ann-Margret doesn't work hard, she sings pleasantly but without much distinction. She dances, supported by a male chorus expending tons of energy. She chats insipidly, in a disconcertingly little-girl voice, with her audience. And she has special material, including a Swedish folk bit and an elaborate production number built around John Dillinger, gangster, and the mysterious lady in red, concluding campily and perhaps patriotically with the star prancing about in a red, white and blue corset. It certainly isn't that Ann-Margret is untalented. The evidence includes her performance in "Carnal Knowledge." It's just that her act is geared basically to exploiting male chauvinist pigs. Her act, and the TV special, prove the obvious, that Ann-Margret is stunningly attractive. She doesn't need the support of Bob Hope and George Burns doing routines that dissolve into a tired fizzle. She simply appears in boots and hot pants and, in a "tribute" to her motorcycle movie days, does a "mashed potato" stomp that makes Linda Lovelace look like Vera Vague.

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