In 1980, Dolly Parton’s big-screen debut in 9 to 5 went on to become the highest-grossing comedy film of the year, also earning Parton an Oscar nomination and a pair of Grammy awards for the now-classic theme song. Co-starring Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda as co-workers who decide to hold their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss (Dabney Coleman) hostage and transform their oppressive workplace into one of equality, the hilarious, over-the-top hijinks couldn’t disguise the film’s more resonant message, which has only strengthened in the current era of Time’s Up and #MeToo.
Having spawned a short-lived TV series in the Eighties and a Broadway musical, which is now running in London’s West End, 9 to 5 continues to resonate with audiences. Next year the film turns 40 years old — yet a long-rumored sequel now appears to have clocked out. “I’m so sad that Disney has decided not to move forward with the #9to5sequel,” the original film’s screenwriter Patricia Resnick tweeted last month. “So many things need to be said about the office of today from lack of benefits to no living wage, permanent temps and of course sexual harassment. On the good side #9to5musicalUK is killing it!”
In celebration of its influence and its all-too-timely message, the film’s legacy will instead be revisited next year with Still Working 9 to 5, a documentary feature spotlighting new interviews with stars of the film, stage musicals, and TV series, including Parton, Tomlin, and Fonda. The documentary will serve to mark the film’s milestone anniversary by highlighting issues that remain problematic within the workplace. “It’s 40 years now and it’s still important,” says Parton.
Grammy-winning songwriter Shane McAnally is set to contribute new music and pen an original score for the film. “With all the inspiration around this movement [for income equality] and how music was a central character in the original 9 to 5, who knows… we might incorporate some of the iconic Dolly songs as well as some new classics,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “I’m so excited to get to be a part of what I believe will be the soundtrack of a movement, and help get it to as many ears and hearts as possible for the next generation of women and their allies.”
Still Working 9 to 5 is co-directed by Gary Lane and Camille Hardman, and produced by Hardman’s Mighty Fine Entertainment and brothers Gary and Larry Lane’s Twinzzone
Productions. In 2011, the Lane brothers’ documentary film Hollywood to Dollywood, featuring 15 of Parton’s legendary songs, toured the festival circuit winning 25 awards along the way. Hardman is an award-winning Australian-born filmmaker and creator of the DIY Network/ HGTV series Restored. The film’s executive producer, Steve Summers, also serves as executive producer of the forthcoming Netflix series Heartstrings. Debuting in November, each episode of the eight-part series was inspired by one of Parton’s songs. Parton’s 50th anniversary Grand Ole Opry concert this past weekend will also form the basis of a primetime NBC special next month.