Missouri-based production company Campbell-Stone Entertainment signed an option on December 15 for the screen rights to Sergeant Presley, a book penned by Rex and Elisabeth Mansfield with Marshall and Zoe Terrill. ECW Press published the book in 2002.
"Campbell-Stone Entertainment is excited to bring the screen this intriguing and original story about Elvis Presley," Stone said, a veteran producer and former actor. "I like the fact that the story really touches upon Elvis' patriotism and his love for this great country. I also like that it's one of the least known periods of his life."
Mansfield was sworn into service with Presley, a 23-year-old draftee, on March 24, 1958, in Memphis, Tennessee. The two developed a special friendship that blossomed during their travels overseas. Once in West Germany, Mansfield introduced Elisabeth Stefaniak to Presley. Her relationship with Presley grew from personal secretary to housemate. The pair witnessed Sgt. Presley's complex personality unfold over an 18-month period. According to the Mansfields, the ultimate rock-star-turned G.I. was a mix of generous, humorous, sad and jealous. The story's focal point centers on the tug-of-war between Elvis and Rex over Elisabeth, a rivalry that would end with Rex stealing Elisabeth's heart, but losing his friendship to Presley.
Their story follows Presley every step of the way from induction to discharge and is considered by many as the truest account of his time in the Army.
"Elisabeth and I had a very unique, once in a lifetime, experience in our relationship with Elvis for those two years in the U.S. Army," Rex said. "I have always felt that some day, someone would want to make our book into a film or TV movie. I am very happy that now someone has the faith to do our story."
Author Marshall Terrill, who recently finished writing the memoirs of former Presley bodyguard Sonny West, said Sergeant Presley most likely has a better chance on the small screen.
"It would be great if it was made into a feature film, but in my heart I've always felt it was perfect for television or cable and, of course, would have a great shelf life in the DVD market," Terrill said.
"The producers have very strong contacts in Hollywood and more importantly, they have a proven track record of success."
An option gives a producer the rights to shop the project to studios to drum up interest for a film or screen version of the book. The term of the option is for a six-month period with another six-month option available to Campbell-Stone Entertainment. Rodney Stone is a veteran of the film industry as an executive with Warner Brothers Studio and as an actor in film and television. He produced Pistol: Birth of a Legend, a 1991 movie about the life of basketball legend "Pistol" Pete Maravich. He is currently producing on a drama about the trial of Richard Scrushy, the former HealthSouth CEO who was recently
acquitted of fraud in Alabama. Stone's partner, Darrel Campbell, is a writer, producer and actor. Campbell had successful writing tenures on "Days of Our Lives" and "Home Improvement." He also scripted the feature films, Pistol: Birth of a Legend and Redemption of the Ghost.