|Lebanon's "Elvis" excited to see his story go to silver screen|
|Wednesday, January 9, 2013|
By KEN BECK
Wade Cummins, famed far and wide as premier Elvis Presley impersonator Elvis Wade, just experienced the thrill of seeing his story “The Identical” turned into a feature film.
Starring Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano and Blake Ryane, the movie, produced by City of Peace Films, is set for an October release, with several scenes shot in Watertown and at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center/Wilson County Fairgrounds.
The plot follows the path of a musical family from the be-bop 1950s through the glam rock 1970s and features new songs that have a retro vibe.
“This is going be a major movie. I couldn’t be happier. They did a knockdown, blowout job,” Cummins said last week. “The executive producers told me, ‘Did you know only 1 percent of all scripts ever written get made? You know what your chances are?’ ‘Yeah, about like winning the lottery.’”
Cummins can’t share details about the film as the producers asked him to keep the contents of the movie “sort of secret,” but it does contain some elements of his life.
The screenplay was written by Howie Klausner, whose credits include 2000’s “Space Cowboys” (starring Clint Eastwood, James Garner and Tommy Lee Jones), “The Grace Card“ and “The Last Ride.”
“It's a fictional story but one that is based on many key historical moments. I think anyone who lived through that time period will appreciate the evolution and history of rock ’n’ roll portrayed in this film,” Klausner stated in an official announcement when production began this past October.
In the movie, executive produced by Yochanan Marcellino and directed by Dustin Marcellino, “The Hollywood Reporter” reports that Green plays a drummer challenged by excesses of wine, women and song, while Liotta is the family’s patriarch and a preacher. Judd is his wife and Pantoliano a music-loving garage mechanic.
Cummins has a cameo in the film, performing a song. A native of Mount Pleasant, he grew up in Detroit, began in the entertainment business as a teenager and moved to Lebanon in 1976.
He has made a career for the past 45 years as Elvis impersonator Elvis Wade and even received a standing ovation from Presley himself when the late rock ’n’ roll legend saw his show at George Jones’ Possum Holler nightclub in Printer’s Alley in 1972.
“It was phenomenal for me,” Cummins said. “He was fascinated that this guy was making a living doing him.”
For a man who doesn’t read books or go to the movies, Cummins said writing the story came easy.
“I had had the story on my mind for several years and just decided to sit down and put it on paper, and when I did, it just flowed out of me,” he said. “It took about three months to write. I couldn’t read it without crying my eyes out.”
Novice writer Cummins sent his story to a number of people, including a film company that made faith-based films.
“I never heard a word from them,” he recollected. “I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not as good as I thought it was.’ I forgot about it, and a year later, I got a phone call.”
On the other end of the line, director Dustin Marcellino told Cummins, “This script laid on my desk for a year. I‘ve been so busy, I never looked at it. We have two films ready to put into production. I happened to glance down and started reading and couldn’t put it down. By the time I reached page 50, I broke down and cried three times. I called my dad, who owns the company, he had the same reaction.
“We will drop the two movies if you will give us this movie. We are so excited. We think this is going to be phenomenal,” Marcellino said.
Taken by surprise, Cummins told him, “Give me seven days to pray about it.”
“I called ’em back up and said, ‘OK, you guys got the script.’ I never dreamed of this starring guys like Ray Liotta and Seth Green, major stars. It’s kind of a pinch-me-dream-come-true,” Cummins said, also reporting that Liotta told him he cried after reading the script.
As for how the screenplay turned out, Cummins said, “Some of it I like. Some of it I love. Some of it I didn’t like so much. Some things got cut. Some things made it. But I understand. I’m just thrilled to be sitting where I am sitting.”