Dolly Parton’s new album, Pure & Simple, drops on Aug. 19, followed by The Complete Trio Collection, her project with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, on Sept. 9. But then the 70-year-old country music legend who is currently on tour in North America will concentrate on more TV production as part of a deal with NBC, including a film called Jolene.
“I wake up with new dreams every day,” she said at a recent press conference in Toronto. “And I hope to never retire because I love my work, unless my husband or myself got in bad health, I would stay with him if he needed me and I’d stay home if I was too sick to go, but, hopefully, I’ll be able to work from now on.
“One of the reasons I’m doing this full-blown tour this year — because I didn’t know when I would be doing another full-blown tour, overseas or here — [is] because I’m planning on going into more production on television shows.”
Last December, NBC aired Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (named after her 1971 song of the same name) directed by Stephen Herek. The made-for-TV special, whose cast included Jennifer Nettles and Ricky Schroder, was about “the tight-knit Parton family as they struggle to overcome devastating tragedy and discover the healing power of love, faith and a raggedy patchwork coat that helped make Dolly who she is today,” according to IMDb.
It did so well, Parton says, that they are filming a sequel this year called Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, with the same cast and more “true stories from my life.” Directed again by Herek, she says, “It’s about when a Mama who never had a wedding ring all the years she was married and had a house full of kids so it was about the year that we all made enough money to try to get Mama a wedding ring. It’s a sweet little story.”
The Tennessee native also hopes to do a series based on her life story, beginning with how her Uncle Bill — who will be introduced in the Christmas movie — “helped me travel around and helped me get started,” she says, adding, “if I do the series, then I’ll be in some of those, playing a grown-up Dolly as a reflection with the little girl [Alyvia Alyn Lind] that played Dolly; it will be her dreams, her future, or me reflecting back on my past.”
Also in the works is a movie based on 1973’s “Jolene,” her popular song in which she begs a woman “with flaming locks of auburn hair” not to take her man, as well as a series based on 1975’s “The Seeker,” that will be a “Touched By An Angel type thing, only with a boy instead of a girl.”
She adds that her four-picture deal with NBC is not exclusive and that one of the projects might be a live musical special with guest artists, in the vein of her Dolly variety show in the late 80s. “I’ve still got many things I want to do.”
Parton is currently on a 60-date tour, which ends in December. It is titled Pure & Simple after her 43rd studio album. She is also excited to see leftover material from past Trio sessions with Harris and Ronstadt see the light of day. The Complete Trio Collection includes 1987’s Grammy-winning Trio album and 1999 follow-up, Trio II, plus 20 previously unreleased songs.
“Linda has Parkinson’s Disease now and she can’t sing anymore — one of the greatest voices ever but she’s doing good; she’s holding her own at the moment — but she just doesn’t have the strength in her vocal chords to sing anymore, so we thought it would be great to take all those songs while we’re still young enough and in good enough health to enjoy knowing that they’re out there, so we can be part of sharing that with the public,” Parton says. “There’s some really good stuff on those albums. I’m as proud of that as I am anything I’ve ever done, working with Emmy and Linda.”