It's not country, but Dolly's keeping as busy as ever

May 25, 1999

Just because Dolly Parton doesn't have plans to release a new country album doesn't mean she's resting on her laurels. This year, the legend's released a gospel album, celebrated the opening of the 14th year of Dollywood and reaped the success of Trio II, her record with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.

Dolly, who's charted 65 country albums and 74 singles, including 24 No. 1s, is also taking on more film and TV projects, behind the scenes and in front of the camera. * see note below

"I'm not eaten up with the idea of just acting," she says. "I've started a new television and feature film production company called Southern Light, and I'm very excited about that. Already I have four TV movies in the works.

"I also have two Lifetime movies in the works. Bluevalley Songbird is the first one. We've already got it scripted and we're going to shoot that this spring or early summer in the south.

"The other one is called Trouble in Jerusalem, which is about a southern Christian girl who falls in love with a New York Jewish boy. It's culture shock when he comes to the South and she goes to new York. It's a comedy, but it's got a lot of serious stuff, too."

Despite her success on the big screen, Dolly says, "I like doing television more than feature films, because it's so fast. Movies take months to do and sometimes years to prepare."

But Dolly isn't turning her back on movies. "We're going to do some more feature films, we're looking at scripts all the time," she says and pauses. "It's just, I don't want to just do anything.

"I get offered all kinds of parts, but if they don't fit in with who and what I am and what I want to do, then I don't want to do them."

Hosting a talk show is one role she won't do. "I get offered millions of dollars, almost monthly, to do a Dolly show," she admits. "You'd think that would be a natural for me and that I'd want to do it.

"But I don't know that I have the right kind of smarts to handle a show like that day in and day out. I love not having all the pressure on me.

"Like when I host with Regis," she says of the times she fills in for Kathie Lee Gifford on Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee. "I know that he'll take all the pressure and I can just be funny, be silly or whatever. If I don't know what I'm doing, he can pick up and take over."

Dolly's rounds as a talk show guest have helped Trio II land in Billboard's Top 10.

"The new single 'After The Goldrush' is getting a lot of radio play," Dolly says. "The album's doing really well, too. I love singing with Emmylou and Linda. We did that album five years ago and meant to have it out then, but our schedules went a little crazy. It's great that it's finally come out."

The famous singers won't hit the road together. "We don't plan to do concerts," says Dolly. "It takes too much time, too much effort, too much money and scheduling wouldn't allow us to do it. It just wouldn't make sense."

As an owner of Tennessee's biggest theme park, Dolly's proud of its newest addition, one of the South's biggest roller coasters, the Tennessee Tornado.

"It's a great ride," says Dolly. "Everybody that's been on it says it's one of the best rides they've ever been on. I don't do well on the rides myself," she confesses. "I get motion sickness. Plus, with the way I wear my hair and my make-up and shoes, I'm liable to throw a shoe, lose a wig and do all numbers of things."

Dolly's also proud she's established the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum at Dollywood.

"They didn't have a home and it just seemed to be a natural thing since gospel music was so much a part of my background, my life," says Dolly. "I think that it was just one of those things that God meant to happen." The opening of the museum mirrors her latest musical venture, a gospel album, Precious Memories, her first in more than 25 years.

"I've only done one gospel album, Golden Streets of Glory, and that was back in my very early days. People have asked me for years why don't I do more gospel music," says Dolly.

Choosing songs wasn't easy. "I had at least 100 songs that I loved and have sung all my life in church," Dolly explains. "It was hard to drop songs because you can only do so many. It almost got down to 'eenie, meenie, miney, mo,' which on of these is going to have to go."

Dolly's done it all but she counts marriage to Carl Dean as her biggest success. They will celebrate their 33rd anniversary at the end of the month.

"That's long enough. I think I'm going to leave him," say Dolly with a laugh.

"Actually, we've been together 35 years; we met two years before we married. People can't believe it's lasted. But it's still exciting to us. We get along great, we're best friends. I wouldn't take nothing for him.

"It's the first marriage for both of us and it'll be the last I'm sure, unless something happened to one of us. Even then I'm not even sure if either of us would ever marry again.

"It just seems like no more than 10 years I've been with him."

* I have no clue from where this figure came. Actually, according to Billboard records, Dolly's had 93 charted country singles (61 solo and 32 duets) and 22 pop charted singles (18 solo and four duets) for a total of 115 (or 94 if you count each individual song once since "Two Doors Down" did not appear on the country chart), not 74. She has had 24 county No. 1s, though.

A special thanks to Corey for typing this article in.