By Kyla Brewer
As family and friends begin to gather together for the holidays, there’s nothing like a heartwarming story everyone can enjoy. Luckily for TV viewers, beloved country music icon Dolly Parton (“9 to 5,” 1980) shares another story from her own life this holiday season, a follow-up to last year’s critically acclaimed “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.”
The young Parton family braces for an unexpected blizzard in the premiere holiday film “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,” airing Wednesday, Nov. 30, on NBC. Set in 1950s Tennessee, the made-for-TV movie continues the story that began in last year’s ratings smash hit holiday special “Coat of Many Colors,” which was based on the true story of Parton’s early life, and one of her biggest hit songs. The December premiere of “Coat” drew more than 13 million live viewers, making it the most-watched television film in years.
“I was so overwhelmed and touched by how many people watched ‘Coat of Many Colors’ and their reaction to it,” Parton said after the announcement. “The song ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ of course, has always been my favorite and has touched so many people throughout the years, especially me. It is a true story from a very special time in my childhood.”
It’s really no wonder so many people tuned in to “Coat of Many Colors” when you consider Parton is the most-honored female country performer of all time. She has millions of fans, a record 41 career top 10 country albums and numerous awards, not to mention a heart of gold. Even with all of her success, she is reportedly one of the entertainment industry’s most down-to-earth stars, and her humble upbringing may be her key to staying grounded. Viewers were obviously enthralled with her story last holiday season and, in May, NBC executive Richard Greenblatt announced a sequel to the film would grace this year’s holiday lineup.
The cast of the original returns to help Dolly tell another story from her early years. Young Dolly will once again be portrayed by talented youngster Alyvia Alyn Lind (“Dark Skies,” 2013). Country music star Jennifer Nettles (“Underground”) put her music career on hold to reprise her critically acclaimed role as Parton family matriarch Avie Lee Parton, while Ricky Schroder (“NYPD Blue”) stars as her husband and Dolly’s father, Robert Lee Parton. The cast also includes Gerald McRaney (“Major Dad”) as Rev. Jake Owens, Avie Lee’s father. Stephen Herek (“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” 1989) returned to the director’s chair to helm the sequel.
In June, Variety announced that Disney star Kelli Berglund (“Lab Rats”) had signed on to this year’s project as Dolly’s oldest sister Willadeene, who has left school to help out with her younger siblings. Dolly herself will appear in the film as well, playing the “town trollop” as she told Jimmy Fallon during an August interview in “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.” She also told Fallon she had modeled her trademark style on the very same trollop’s look.
The new holiday movie “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” captures Christmas joy just as Robert and the kids are struggling to raise enough money to buy his loving wife the wedding ring he never could afford. At the same time, an important figure in Dolly’s life realizes that her musical gift may be meant for bigger things.
In real life, as we all know, Dolly went on to become a trailblazing female country singer. In fact, she was recently honored with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in early November.
She’s also an Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Emmy nominee, one of few performers to earn nods for all four. Her film credits include “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (1982), “Steel Magnolias” (1989) and “Joyful Noise” (2012). ✦