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Dolly Parton shares more 'Colors' in holiday sequel

Dolly Parton shares more 'Colors' in holiday sequel
Dolly Parton and Jennifer Nettles at a news conference for "Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love." (Rick Diamond / Getty Images)

Such is Dolly Parton's love for Christmas that she has painted the elevator in her house to look like a chimney and comes "down" it every year to bestow presents upon her nieces and nephews dressed as "Granny Claus."

And, in the '80s, she once flew across the country on Christmas Day dressed in the full Claus regalia to surprise one of her sisters at the airport.

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Parton laughs at the memory, noting that she commandeered the intercom and led the passengers in Christmas carols at 30,000 feet. "We just had a party," she says.

"Can you imagine being on that plane," marvels Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland fame.

Parton's adoration for the holiday, as well as some much more melancholy memories of it, inform her upcoming NBC film, "Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love," premiering Wednesday at 9 p.m. The movie, on which Parton served as an executive producer, has brought the two singer-actresses together recently to chat with the media.

Nettles reprises her role as Parton's mother, Avie, in the sequel to last year's ratings hit "Coat of Many Colors," based on the country legend's classic song of the same name.  This time, however, the "9 to 5" star gets in on the action herself, playing a "Painted Lady" who, in a very meta moment, inspires the future image of her younger self, played again by Alyvia Alyn Lind.

The new film is based on two true stories from Parton's childhood. One concerns the family's plan to save up money to buy Avie a wedding ring.

"She had a house full of kids and never had a wedding ring," says Parton of her 11 siblings. The second is "about a Christmas miracle that actually happened to us when we got snowed into our little cabin and we almost froze to death. My Daddy was gone and we were out of food and we couldn't get out and so it's about a miracle through prayer that Mama had."

Parton tears up at the memories and says the greatest gifts the films have given her is the way they bring her parents back to life for her. She hopes viewers will watch with their own loved ones.

"I think we need more family things," she says. "I think people are missing shows like 'Little House on the Prairie' and 'The Waltons.' And obviously they were because we got really good ratings!"

Although she stresses her own belief in God and that faith is reflected in the film, she believes people from all walks of life can enjoy the message of "Christmas of Many Colors."

"You don't have to be Christian," she says. "You just need to relate to family and love and acceptance and forgiveness."

It's possible, she says in a separate interview, that she and NBC may continue to return to — as the song goes— the seasons of her youth for more installments.

"We hadn't planned [this sequel]," says Parton, who had signed with NBC for four projects, which will include a Christmas variety special next year and possibly a film based on her song "Jolene," currently in the scripting stage.

"This was the first one and it just got such great ratings they thought, well, if I was willing, we'd do another one.  And I said 'I'm willing — with enough money.'"

NBC showed her the money and she's thrilled with the result. "I was proud to get to do a continuation because I always wanted to have a Christmas movie that could show from now on, a Christmas classic. So we'll see how the ratings do. If this really does well we might even consider doing a series."

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Parton, who at 70 has had a busy year with a new album and her first full-fledged tour in 25 years, remains awed at the number of projects spawned by that long-ago handmade coat of rags, including a recent children's book that included the new anti-bullying song "Making Fun Ain't Funny," as a download.

"It makes me feel good that this little story is just the gift that keeps on giving," she says with a smile.  "It's just a song of many colors, a story of many colors, that touches so many places in people."

'Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love'

Where: NBC

When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

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