Dolly Parton is a dreamer.
She may look like a tarted-up Tinkerbell, and that's meant in the nicest possible way, but behind the wigs, nails, bling, heels and sequins is a stone-cold businesswoman, fueled by dreams.
Even when others pooh-pooh her dreams, as they did with some rickety amusement park in Appalachia, Parton stays true to her beliefs. Dollywood is the largest employer in Tennessee's Sevier County and a vacation destination. Parton is commemorating the park's silver anniversary with a special on Hallmark Channel, "Dolly Celebrates 25 Years of Dollywood," airing Saturday, July 3.
"The theme is the dreamer in you," Parton says.
Though the one-hour concert hadn't been taped at this writing, it had been planned. " Kenny Rogers is a dear, dear friend," she says, naming the performers. " Billy Ray Cyrus and, of course, li'l Miley Cyrus will come and do something special with us."
"I'm going to do 'Jolene' with Miley," she says. "Two women fightin' over the same man."
That plaintive ballad, one of Parton's signature songs, about losing her man to a vixen, includes the lines:"Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene/ I'm begging of you, please don't take my man/ Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene/ Please don't take him just because you can .
"He talks about you in his sleep/ There's nothing I can do to keep/ From crying when he calls your name, Jolene."
Rogers and Parton will perform "Islands in the Stream" and "I Will Always Love You."
Having written thousands of songs, Parton simply never stops working. She writes every day.
"I am always writing down titles and thoughts," she says. "I don't complete something every day. For me to be awake, everything is a rhyme and a song to me. I carry a Ziploc bag with song titles and ideas in my purse. I write on chewing gum paper. I write something every day. There is no way I can be awake and not write something."
Her writing extends to a pure love of the written word. In addition to the park and the music, she has a fabulous literacy program called Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which has donated millions of books throughout North America.
Parton is proud of that and of the family-friendly vibe of the park.
That feeling should be evident on the special. When she performs with Billy Ray Cyrus, "we will sit around and do some guitar plunking," Parton says.
She recalls that she featured him in a video "back when he was so hot."
When asked if he might not appreciate that his heat was back in the day, Parton laughs and explains, "He was hot in his day, when 'Achy Breaky Heart' was out, and everyone was screaming."
Parton wasn't yet sure what she was going to wear on the special, but it's fair to say a pinstriped gray pantsuit and sensible loafers are not under consideration.She describes her look as "kind of girl next door -- providing you live next door to an amusement park! I love having the park because it allows me to be as outrageous as I want."
The show will feature "a lot of our own musicians, singers and dancers from the park for a lot of the background," Parton says.
Dolly wants viewers to see "how exciting it's been for me and how fun it has been, and these people are my friends, and we have all been at it for a long, long time.
"And it's like saying, 'Hey, dreams can come true!' because this was a dream of mine to have the park," she continues. "It's OK to dream, to have dreams come true. I am just looking forward to a whole year of celebration. We're going to have a fundraiser for the flood victims of Nashville.Nashville has been my home for 46 years, so many come to the mountains, and it's only right that we try to give back."
Undoubtedly, she'll raise the money. Just as with her immense talent that has sold more than 100 million records, made her the No. 1 female country recording artist ever with 45 Grammy nominations (seven wins), Emmy, Oscar and Tony nominations, and a Kennedy Center Honor, among other awards and accomplishments -- it started with a dream.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times