EL backlights aren't particularly new; they have exisited ever since 'indiglo' watches came out. However they are way too dim for 'ultra bright' applications like this. They are also generally not white which makes them unsuitable for backlighting color LCD's. The major advantage of an EL backlight is the power requirement which is why you see them very often on portable devices with monochrome LCD screens. The iPod (non color) is an example of a relatively white EL backlight screen that is about the current limit of the technology in terms of color and brightness.
If you do want a wacky and useful alternative idea, there are actually companies which produce fiber optic backlights. The obvious advantage of a fiber optic backlight are that they let you use conventional, very bright, cheap, (and sometimes very hot) light sources to backlight an LCD. They are also inexpensive to customize for different size applications since installation options are very flexible. The downside is that they are expensive, somewhat fragile, and would not fit into an LCD case if that is the application we are going for.