What Does Antonio Cipriano of Disney’s National Treasure Have to do with Elvis?

This week, I had the pleasure of reaching the conclusion of the Disney+ series National Treasure: Edge of History.

I know the series came out in December, but take pity on my tardiness to the party. I work on a lot of projects, so I don’t get the chance to just sit and watch television as religiously as some.

Don’t get me wrong, I love television as a medium.  I just don’t always have the luxury of a lot of leisure time.

ALL TIED TOGETHER

Talking about National Treasure: Edge of History specifically, I was really impressed with how Disney tied in the themes of the original Nicholas Cage National Treasure movies yet gave us a totally independent story with its own wonderfully developed and likable characters. Weaving in a few characters from the film series was also well done.

As I digested the 10-episode first season, I grew more and more impressed with many of the stars. The camera just loves series star Lisette Olivera, and Lyndon Smith, Zuri Reed, Jake Austin Walker, and Tommy Savas are all great.  Catherine Zeta Jones is always a delight and turns in a wickedly fun performance as the series baddie.

However, the more episodes I watched, the more I found myself really drawn to the likable nature of Antonio Cipriano – who plays Oren Bradley. Something about Cipriano just works.

I sometimes play The Casting Director Game in my head. I like figuring out what actors would be ideal for different characters.

For instance:

  • I always thought Danny DeVito would make a great Mr. Spacely if they ever made The Jetsons into a live-action movie.
  • In my mind Hugh Jackman and John Travolta would be a great team as Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit in a movie remake of Guys and Dolls.
  • For years I’ve thought that Henry Cavill would make an ideal James Bond, combining the pristine features of Pierce Brosnan with the manliness of Sean Connery.
  • I still think Willie Nelson is a shoo-in to play Floyd if they ever made a live-action cast of The Electric Mayhem from The Muppets.

This morning, I woke up to the wonderful news that my screenplay The Elvis Conspiracy has won the Best Screenplay Award in the 14th Season of the Golden Fern Film Awards. That is the eighth Best Screenplay award for this thriller in major competitions in the past five months.

DISCOVER THE CONSPIRACY

Obviously, the time is hot for a script like this. Elvis is a spicy topic thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s biopic starring Academy Award-nominee Austin Butler. But people are craving a fresh take on Elvis – and that’s exactly what The Elvis Conspiracy is. It’s unlike any Elvis movie ever before it.

Alternative History is a really exciting genre that has exploded in popularity thanks to the success of dramas like Quinten Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and comedies like Roku’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

The basic idea of alternative history movies is that you take a real subject in history, and you create a fictional story totally free to celebrate creativity and pose “what if” questions for the audience to ponder.

When people talk about Elvis at different points in his life, it’s almost like they are talking about totally different people: Young Elvis, Hollywood Elvis, Vegas Elvis, etc.

Then, of course, there are the conspiracy theories about Elvis’s death compounded by things like his middle name being misspelled on his gravestone and the official weight of his corpse being nearly 100 pounds lighter than his last known live weight.

The Elvis Conspiracy takes these tempting conspiracies and reimagines the world of Elvis as if they were true.  The result is an award-winning screenplay prime for feature film or limited series development. 

A BUDDING STAR

So, what does building industry interest in The Elvis Conspiracy have to do with Disney’s National Treasure and Antonio Cipriano?

Remember what I said about how I like to play casting director? Well, seeing Cipriano in National Treasure makes the casting director in me think he could be a damn good Elvis.

He’s good looking with a general bone structure similar to the King. He’s got a good athletic build, and coming from Broadway he can sing and dance. But it is his acting talent that makes me think Cipriano could be a contender for the role.

Any list of the best portrayals of real stars by Hollywood has to include Lou Diamond Phillips as Richie Valens in La Bamba, James Franco in the title role in the 2001 TV movie James Dean, and Gary Busey in the starring role in The Buddy Holly Story.  I would love to have someone deliver that kind of excellence in The Elvis Conspiracy, and Cipriano could be up to  challenge.

Part of the process in pitching a potential film or limited series like The Elvis Conspiracy involves presenting casting ideas – hence why The Casting Director Game comes in handy.

There are a few more well-known box office draws that could do a great job in this story that would involve playing four different versions of Elvis – different men who Col. Parker uses to fill the public role of Elvis over the years. But of course their combined mission is that it never be discovered that the world’s biggest icon is the biggest swindle in entertainment history.

Zac Efron and Tom Holland are two proven box office stars who could definitely turn heads and garner award nominations in a role like this. I am a big fan of both actors and extremely respectful of their talents.

APPEAL OF THE UNKNOWN

Like Austin Butler was when Luhrmann tapped him to play the lead opposite Tom Hanks in his big budget Elvis vehicle, Cipriano would be more of an unknown. Not a total unknown, but this would be his biggest role to date.

Finn Cole of the series Animal Kingdom and Dacre Montgomery from Stranger Things would both also be lessor known actors who could have a breakout performance in this unique version of Elvis.

Eight Best Screenplay Awards in five months is definitely starting to draw attention. And I am truly humbled.

I’ve retained an entertainment attorney and we’ve started to field some interest, but I want to give time for all potential producers to express interest.

I would love to see this done right, whether that be as feature film or as a limited series. Casting plays a big part in the success of a project like this. At the end of the day, those are decisions that the director and studio will make. But Antonio Cipriano is a name that should be in the mix.

If you find The Elvis Conspiracy interesting, I’d love to hear from you.

I thank you for your continued support.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta

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