Country music legend Dolly Parton has signed a deal with NBC where the television network is scheduled to make and release an entire series of movies based on her songs and life. First up is the movie “Coat of Many Colors,” which is a family-oriented film based on her 1971 hit single of the same name. And the outspoken country music star says she wants it to be a family event.
“I’m just hoping during the holiday season this will be my gift to the public,” Dolly Parton said at the Television Critics Assn. summer media tour in Beverly Hills on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times posted August 13. “To say, ‘Hey, do sit down as a family. Do watch this.'”
As the Times noted, “Coat of Many Colors” which is not a biopic, nor is it a musical of Parton’s entire life. What is, though, is a heartwarming story based on a small part of the country music legend’s life in the Tennessee mountains. Country music singer Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) will portray Dolly Parton’s mom, while Ricky Schroder takes on the role of her dad. Alyvia Lind will play an 8-year-old Parton.
NBC has had great success with its more family-friendly programming in the last few years. Shows like the live stagings of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” brought in huge ratings. The star qualities of Carrie Underwood (“The Sound of Music”) and Christopher Walken (“Peter Pan”) helped promote interest in the productions as well.
Parton is the ultimate crowd-pleaser and her name attached to anything draws attention. She’s known box office success with hit movies like “9 to 5” and “Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.” But “Coat Of Many Colors” is different for her, she says.
“This is exciting to do because it’s very personal to me,” she said at the media tour event. “It’s a true story of a certain period of my life. I always wanted my people to be proud of me. This whole story really shows … the kind of parents we had, the neighbors, the good friends, the brothers and sisters. It’s all about family.”
Parton is working on the projected series of movies with NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt. The two worked together previously on the Broadway musical adaptation of her hit film “9 to 5.”
As for “Coat Of Many Colors, co-executive producer Sam Haskell said he and the country music icon began discussing the project a year and a half ago. He said, “We are telling this story so we can show where it all began. And the heart and soul of the family she was so proud to be part of and the struggles her family had to go through …. ‘Coat of Many Colors’ [the song] defines who Dolly is as a person and performer.”
The song rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1971. In 2011 “Coat Of Many Colors” was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of sound recordings that reflect cultural, historical, or aesthetic importance in the US. As the Registry noted, “Coat Of Many Colors” was “instrumental in establishing Parton’s credibility as a songwriter.”
The song tells the story of Dolly as a little girl, whose family was so poor the family couldn’t afford coats for their children. Her mother sewed together a bunch of colorful scraps of cloth to make her a coat to get through the cold mountain winter. But as special as she felt because her mother made the coat just for her, she was ridiculed at school. So she let them know that one was only as poor as one allowed oneself to be and, as she sings in the song, “Now I know we had no money/ But I was rich as I could be/ In my coat of many colors/ My momma made for me.”
Haskell announced at the end of the media tour presentation that “Jolene” will be next in the slate of Parton-based films for NBC Television. “Jolene,” a song about a woman fearing she is losing her man to a temptress, was a chart-topper on the country music charts in the US and Canada for Parton.