The Elvis comeback of ’68 is the focus of a new Paramount+ documentary, ‘Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback,’ the behind-the-scenes story of the King of Rock n’ Roll’s iconic hour-long special.
Today Paramount+ released a new feature-length documentary focusing on the iconic Elvis comeback of 1968, available now on the service in the U.S. and Canada and rolling out throughout the rest of the day in the U.K., Latin America, Brazil, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Premiering days before the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, “Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback” tells the story of what happened behind the scenes during the now-legendary hour of television on December 3, 1968.
The special became the most-watched television event of the year, with nearly half of the TV-watching audience tuned in to see Elvis return to the stage after his Hollywood film career. Clad in a black leather suit, he delivered some of the best performances of his life, reinvigorating his music career and altering the pop culture landscape.
Told from the perspective of director Steve Binder, Emmy Award-winning television director and author of “Elvis ’68 Comeback: Behind the Special,” the documentary features interviews with Elvis experts and recollections from those who attended the special in person, with all-new versions of iconic Elvis hits interpreted by contemporary musicians, including Darius Rucker, Latin Grammy winner Maffio, and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Drake Milligan.
“The world is filled with stories about Elvis and his historic 1986 Comeback Special, but no one has ever told this story the way only I can tell it — because I was there for every moment of it,” said Binder. “I’m so proud of this film because it presents Elvis as he really was and looks at a specific moment in time — when Elvis took control of his life, his career, and his legacy. There’s never been a television moment quite like this one.”
The original hour-long NBC special, “Elvis,” aired on December 3, 1968, and taped the previous June in Burbank, featuring a slim and leather-clad 33-year-old Elvis Presley in an informal acoustic concert performed for a small studio audience.
Recorded with handheld cameras by director Steve Binder, the special showed Presley at his peak, singing happily and bantering with musicians Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana — the guitarist and drummer who had backed the King of Rock n’ Roll on most of his early hits and who were reuniting with him after a decade apart.
The new documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of the original NBC broadcast through the eyes of now-90-year-old Steve Binder, who shares candid and emotional stories of working with Presley and his notoriously troublesome manager, Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks in the 2022 Baz Lurhmann movie “Elvis.”)
“Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback” is produced by Spencer Proffer (“The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’”) and directed by John Scheinfeld (“The U.S. vs. John Lennon”) with Binder executive producing alongside Bruce Gilmer.