As she sits in her manager’s Nashville office dressed in a bright yellow jacket and fitted pair of white capris, it’s obvious that being an overachiever suits Dolly Parton just fine. During her career, she’s sold more than 100 million records, scored 25 Number One country hits and won numerous awards. Now with a new album, tour, TV movie and a wedding in the works, the iconic entertainer has never been busier.
Most recent among Parton’s many achievements is the success of her autobiographical 2015 TV movie Coat of Many Colors, which was released on DVD May 3rd. The initial NBC broadcast was seen by nearly 16 million viewers, inspiring a sequel — Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love — that will be released this fall. “This one is a Christmas movie and is about the time that mama didn’t have a wedding ring and we all saved up money to buy mama a ring for Christmas,” Parton reveals. “And it’s about a blizzard that about done us in on the mountain years ago.”
Returning from the first film for Circle of Love are cast members Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s mother, Avie Lee; Ricky Schroder (handpicked by Parton) as her father, Robert Lee Parton; Gerald McRaney as her grandpa, Reverend Jake Owens; and Alyvia Alyn Lind as young Dolly.
“I think it spoke to a lot of people,” Parton says of the film’s ratings success. “A lot of people relate to it and then I think also people are missing faith-based, family-oriented shows on television, like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.”
Coat of Many Colors was part of a multi-movie deal Parton signed with NBC. Also in the works are TV movies based on her hit songs “Jolene” and “The Seeker.” “We just got approval on the script for Jolene and The Seeker is being written,” Parton says. “We’re really hoping for a series out of that one. What we are trying to do with that is we’ll have a character, almost like a Christ-like type of character, but someone struggling like my song says, ‘I’m just a seeker, a poor sinful creature / there is no weaker than I am / I am a seeker. You are teacher / You are a reacher, so reach down.’ He has this gift, but he struggles with it and doesn’t completely understand it, but everywhere he goes he makes wonderful things happen. So it’s really a cross between Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel type of thing, but it’s a male. He’d be like a singer or writer traveling around. It will have a message and each week something wonderful will happen.”
As for the fourth piece of Parton’s deal, that still remains uncertain. “I’ll possibly do maybe a performance piece,” she says. “I’m not sure yet what that fourth thing is going to be. If I do a series it possibly could be on NBC. I’m not quite sure yet.”
“Everything is going so great right now and I’m riding on such a good wave”
Not willing to put all her eggs in one basket, Parton has the option to develop projects for other networks. “I may have three or four things on the air. I’m not exclusive for NBC. I can have stuff at other places as well.”