Dolly Parton, for many reasons we’ve laid out here, is on par with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when it comes to people we all wish would run for president. In a tough week for her, she has still given gifts to the American people, including a Christmas movie airing on NBC Wednesday at 9 p.m. Give back to Dolly. The national news doesn’t bring you a ton of information about Tennessee, but Dolly does.
1. Dolly Parton’s Home Is Burning
Almost literally. Parton was raised in East Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains in a tiny cabin. After her astronomical success, she continued to make her home there, investing in an amusement park, rebranded as Dollywood at the height of her popularity in 1986.
“I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area,” she said as the theme park celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is the largest employer in the county.
This week, devastating wildfires are savaging much of her native Sevier County, taking out an estimated 15,000 acres and killing at least four. Dollywood has remained mostly untouched, but beloved Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge attractions like tiny wedding chapels and getaway cabins have been destroyed.
I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken. I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.
2. All That And She Made ‘Jolene’ Viral This Week
You can’t confine Dolly to any genre or demographic. The 70-year-old CMA Lifetime Achievement award winner went on “The Voice” with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus (who could use some guidance, so I’m glad they’re collaborating) and a cappella group Pentatonix Tuesday to perform this beautiful rendition of “Jolene.”
3. Dolly Loves Christmas
Who wouldn’t want to watch a Christmas movie made by someone who loves Christmas this much?
Everyone always stays over at my house during Christmas. And I have an elevator at my house, painted like a chimney, and I come down with presents, dressed up as Santa Claus. I love Christmas. I’m a kid myself during Christmas.
4. It’s Based on a True Homespun Tennessee Tale
Like “Christmas of Many Colors,” last year’s ratings hit, “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” draws on Parton’s impoverished upbringing and the family and faith that brought them happiness through it. In this movie, the 11 siblings band together to buy Mama, played by country artist Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland fame, the wedding ring she never had. There’s also a snowstorm, prayer, a miracle, and a cameo by Parton herself, who despite her wholesome values loves to play a hooker with a heart of gold.
It was in another such role, in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” that she brought us a modern classic Christmas song, “Hard Candy Christmas.”
The whole thing is sure to be schlocky and more saccharine than your failed attempt at homemade gingerbread. Rick Schroeder plays her father! The Washington Post review suggests the sequel has doubled down on the stuff that made it a success last year, and that’s a lot of sugar. But that may be a reason it succeeds.
Saddle up, coastal elites, and ride into the places New Yorker and NPR keep stroking their chins about without ever leaving your mid-century modern couch.
5. Dolly Made Sure She Got Paid to Make This Movie
“This was the first one and it just got such great ratings they thought, well, if I was willing, we’d do another one. And I said ‘I’m willing — with enough money.'”
God, I love this woman.