Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini wins ABC's 'The Next Best Thing'
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/26/2007
Elvis Presley impersonator Trent Carlini was crowned the winner of The Next Best Thing: Who is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator? during last night's live finale of the ABC reality competition series.
As The Next Best Thing's winner, Carlini -- who had been billed "Heartbreak Elvis" to distinguish himself from other Presley impersonators featured on the show -- took home the title "The Next Best Thing" and also received the $100,000 grand prize.
"I'm all mixed up man. Everything's happened so fast. I've been slow blown away. I've never worked with a better cast of people than I did for this show," Carlini said after The Next Best Thing host Michele Merkin revealed his victory. "I would like to thank all the friends and fans of Elvis and all the people that voted for me. I thank you so very much, and I hope to see you in Vegas!"
Carlini first started impersonating the King in 1977 following Presley's death and 10 years later he was chosen to star in Elvis' annual birthday tribute at the Star Plaza Theater in Indiana. In 1990, Carlini was chosen "Entertainer with the Most King-like Charisma" at the Global Record's Star Search Contest in Dallas, TX -- which caught the attention of a Vegas show producer, who quickly cast Carlini. He performed as the King in the 1990s at the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel.
In addition, he has made numerous television appearances over the years, including on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Carlini's most recent Las Vegas show, "The Dream King," opened in December 2006 and chronicled Presley's career from when he burst onto the scene in the 1950s to his Vegas years of the 1970s.
Carlini was one of 10 celebrity impersonators who performed during last week's penultimate The Next Best Thing episode, which saw home viewers cast their votes at its conclusion to determine who would win the competition, with the results revealed during last night's live broadcast from Los Angeles' Orpheum Theater.
The first five finalists to be eliminated from the competition last night were Natalie Reid as The Simple Life star Paris Hilton; Roger Kabler as comedian Robin Williams; Garry Moore as singer Little Richard; Sharon Owens as singer Barbra Streisand; and Cookie Watkins as singer Tina Turner.
Lucille Ball impersonator Suzanne La Rusch finished fifth; U.S. President George W. Bush impersonator John Morgan finished fourth; fellow Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards -- dubbed "Bluesuede Elvis" -- finished third; and Frank Sinatra impersonator Sebastian Anzaldo was the runner-up.