NEW YORK – Elvis may be gone -- but his ratings live on.
That's at least part of the reason so many TV shows are making the trip to Graceland this week, the 25th anniversary of the King's dramatic demise.
"A tradition in morning television is not only to cover the news but also to be part of the buzz," said CBS's The Early Show executive producer Michael Bass who's sending correspondent Tracy Smith to Memphis.
The anniversary, Bass said, is "the party everyone wants to be invited to and you don't want to be left outside, even if there are a lot of other places to get your 'Elvis.' "
"I'd cover this if we were the only network standing," said Shelley Ross, executive producer of Good Morning America.
Ross described the week as a long "pop culture" story arc culminating in a more serious and intense tone -- "a little bit like that day the music died," she said -- as the calendar approaches his anniversary date on Aug. 16 and a planned candlelight vigil the night before.
"I've been planning this for months," says Ross.
"Many people in their 20s and 30s who know his music may not know the historical role he played with the backdrop of the civil rights movement in Memphis and his roots in Gospel," she says. "Or how, at the peak of his career, he shaved off his trademark hair and entered the military to serve his country," she said.
NBC's Jonathan Wald, executive producer of Today, says he's been planning this coverage -- with a personal twist -- as far back as last summer.
"As a kid, I remember on August 16th 25 years ago -- NBC Nightly News led with Elvis Presley dying and it raised some eyebrows at the time," he says. "It's always been in the back of my mind that it's incredibly appropriate for the Today show and NBC to mark this event.
"When it comes to Elvis, how could you hold back?" Wald asked. "He never held back, why should we?"
Katie Couric -- who'll be live at Graceland on Wednesday -- will figure big in the week's proceedings.
Throughout the week, Today will air segments of her exclusive interview with Elvis's former wife Priscilla. Different portions of the interview will be broadcast on Tuesday's Dateline.
A special half-hour Dateline precedes the broadcast of Elvis flick Loving You, on August 17th.
Today also promises a first look at "Mobile Graceland," a traveling Elvis exhibit designed to promote the soon-to-be released of a CD featuring the singer's 30 No. 1 hits.
Not surprisingly, the execs say they were besieged by staff members pleading to be sent to Memphis or to work on Elvis-related segments.
"Everybody on the whole staff wants to be in involved in this coverage," Ross said.