Dolly Parton and NBC have released the first extended look at the upcoming TV-movie based on the Country Music Hall of Famer’s autobiographical hit “Coat of Many Colors.” Introduced by Parton herself, the clip showcases Jennifer Nettles in the role of Parton’s mother Avie.
By 1971, Parton was eight albums into a solo career that would eventually redefine what it meant to be a country superstar, and the title track of the LP she released that year, Coat of Many Colors, would rank as the most heartfelt and personal of all the songs the East Tennessee native would write and record. The true story of the brightly colored patchwork coat Parton’s mother sewed for her from discarded rags symbolized not only the impoverished upbringing Dolly and her siblings endured, but also mirrored the Old Testament story of a coat worn by Joseph, who was the 11th of his father’s 12 sons.
Setting up the Coat of Many Colors montage, Parton recalls her youth in the Smoky Mountains. “I have so many memories of growing up here,” she says. “This Christmas I would love to give a gift to you — my favorite song that I’ve ever written tells the true story of my childhood.”
“Coat of Many Colors” was chosen as the first film in an ongoing series of NBC specials based on some of Parton’s most cherished hits. The made-for-TV movie stars Alyvia Alyn Lind as the young Dolly, with Nettles as her mother and Ricky Schroder playing her dad.
Taking place in 1955, when the singer was nine years old, the film fictionalizes some of the events in Parton’s life, and carries an anti-bullying message that remains relevant six decades later. Central to the plot is the tragic loss of an unborn sibling; a heartbreaking event that shatters young Dolly in particular. The film also explores the close bond Parton shared with her mother, with Nettles nearly unrecognizable in the role, save for her distinctive Southern accent.
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“I have a really close relationship with my mom,” Nettles told Rolling Stone Country at a press event last summer before filming began. “She and her mom had a very close relationship too. And her mom recognized her special talent, and her special gift, and the really bright light that she was in the world.”
Coat of Many Colors premieres Thursday, December 10th, at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBC.