Dolly Par­ton builds on film suc­cesses with ‘Dumplin” song

The Sentinel-Record - - ARTS, ETC. - MIKE CIDONI LEN­NOX

LOS AN­GE­LES — Dolly Par­ton says she never re­ally as­pired to be “The Girl in the Movies,” the ti­tle of her Golden Globe-nom­i­nated song from the new dram­edy “Dumplin’.”

Co-writ­ten with hit ma­chine Linda Perry, the song ex­presses the re­bel­lious, plus-sized ti­tle char­ac­ter’s se­cret long­ing to fit in, to have happy Hol­ly­wood end­ings — just like “the girl in the movies.”

While Par­ton said she could re­late to many el­e­ments of the song’s lyrics, “I never had a dream of be­ing on the screen. I fig­ured I’d grow into that, and I did. But my mu­sic was most im­por­tant.”

Par­ton was a long-es­tab­lished coun­try su­per­star and had crossed over to the pop charts with the 1977 smash “Here You Come Again” when Hol­ly­wood called.

“I had been ap­proached about act­ing in some things, but I wasn’t quite ready,” she re­called. “Then Jane (Fonda) came to me and said that they want to do this movie with me and Lily (Tom­lin), and I thought, ‘Well, this is the per­fect time, if I’m ever go­ing to do it, be­cause if it was a hit, we could all take credit. But if it was a flop, I could blame it on them,’” Par­ton ex­plained, with a laugh.

The film, the sear­ing work­place com­edy “9 to 5,” be­came the No. 2 box-of­fice film re­leased in 1980 be­hind only “The Em­pire Strikes Back,” ac­cord­ing to Box Of­fice Mojo. “9 to 5” also in­spired Par­ton’s only solo pop-chart top­per, a TV se­ries and a Broad­way mu­si­cal. The ti­tle song earned Par­ton an Os­car nom­i­na­tion and Par­ton’s new com­po­si­tions for the stage mu­si­cal were hon­ored with a Tony nom­i­na­tion.

Par­ton, 72, went on to score a hand­ful of other box-of­fice suc­cesses as an ac­tress, in­clud­ing the screen adap­ta­tions of the stage hits “The Best Lit­tle Whore­house in Texas” (1982) and “Steel Mag­no­lias” (1989). And she pro­vided her voice to the 2011 an­i­mated block­buster “Gnomeo and Juliet.”

But it’s as a song­writer where Par­ton has per­haps scored big­gest on film, with Whit­ney Hous­ton’s ex­plo­sive cover of Par­ton’s plain­tive bal­lad “I Will Al­ways Love You” from 1992’s “The Body­guard” be­com­ing one of the best-sell­ing sin­gles of all time.

“Peo­ple al­ways tell me, ‘I thought that was Whit­ney’s song. I didn’t know you wrote it. I thought she wrote it,’” Par­ton said, with a smile, adding, “And I tell them, ‘She can have the credit. I’ll just take the cash.’”

The song “9 to 5” has been a gift that keeps on giv­ing for Par­ton, too. Par­ton’s orig­i­nal record­ing ac­com­pa­nied a back-to-work mon­tage in this spring’s “Dead­pool 2.”

“My nieces and neph­ews didn’t even think of me as be­ing a star un­til they heard my song in that movie,” Par­ton com­mented. “I was touched by that. The kids got a kick out if it.”

Like the song, the nearly 40-year-old “9 to 5” movie con­tin­ues to res­onate with con­tem­po­rary au­di­ences — and lit­tle won­der since it tack­les pay-par­ity is­sues, as well as sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Cue the se­quel.

“Pat Res­nick (who co-wrote the orig­i­nal film) and (ac­tress-di­rec­tor) Rashida Jones are work­ing on a new script,” Par­ton said. “Fox al­ready bought it. Jane, Lily and I said, ‘Yes, we would do it,’ and there will be three new girls in it, too. Forty years later, it’s still ad­dress­ing a lot of those is­sues we had back then.”

Par­ton said plans are to shoot the film next year. “Dumplin’” opens in select cin­e­mas and de­buts on Net­flix this week­end. The 76th an­nual Golden Globe Awards will be pre­sented Jan. 6 in Bev­erly Hills.

The Record­ing Acad­emy will honor Par­ton for her mu­si­cal and phil­an­thropic work as 2019 MusiCares Per­son of the Year on Feb. 8, two days be­fore the 61st Grammy Awards in Los An­ge­les.

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