The sequel to last year’s hit Christmas TV movie Dolly Parton‘s Coat of Many Colors is sure to have you reaching for your hanky again, but you won’t be crying alone. Parton will be puddling up right along with you.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, which premieres Nov. 30 on NBC, will once again portray a touching chapter of the country legend’s hardscrabble east Tennessee childhood, and Parton, 70, says she has a difficult time watching it without needing to “just boohoo and cry.”
“It’s such a bittersweet thing to relive your life,” she said at a Nashville press conference in early November. “It’s almost like, at the end of the day, Mama and Daddy have to be gone again.”
But don’t get her wrong: Parton is more than happy to endure a little sadness to bring an uplifting holiday message to TV viewers.
The original 2015 movie, which expanded on a true story she first told in a 1971 hit song of the same name, posted stratospheric ratings, so a sequel was only natural. Parton had no shortage of childhood memories to draw from for a new script, and the original cast, including Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s mother, was reassembled.
When we last saw the Parton family, they had experienced an infant death, a crisis of faith, and little Dolly’s triumph over a bullying episode. The sequel’s plot pivots on two more events: Daddy, played by Ricky Schroder, and the seven Parton children scrimping so Mama can get a wedding ring, and later, Mama and the kids surviving a deadly blizzard with Daddy away.
The blizzard segment brings back particularly painful memories for Parton, who is the film’s executive producer. When she was helping to select music for the scenes, she said she couldn’t “hardly bear” to watch it.
“We were trapped in the house,” she recalled. “We were freezing to death. We’d run out of everything. And so when we got into that part when Mama was praying and the tears were froze on our little faces – here I go again, anybody got any more Kleenex? – I honestly … I can’t talk about it. But it’s a good kind of pain, really, it’s a sweet sorrow.”
She paused and shifted. This is Dolly Parton, after all, a woman who keeps a perpetual twinkle in her eye (not to mention her jewelry and sequins).
“I guess,” she said with a sly grin, “Parton is just such sweet sorrow.”
Nettles, who joined her for the press conference, cracked up.
“You’re a constant hashtag,” Nettles kidded. “Everything she says is a hashtag!”
“Or just hash,” Parton countered.
Parton didn’t appear in the original film, but she’ll make a cameo in this one as “the painted lady” – and, she said, “Who better than me to play a painted lady?”
The character is based on what Parton describes as her childhood town’s “trollop.” “She was the loose woman in our town, but she was absolutely beautiful,” Parton recalled. “She had real tight clothes and red nails, lipstick, piled-up peroxide hair, and I’d never seen anything like that, and I was just totally … That’s me. I would think, that’s how I want to look.”
Of course, Parton added, the production has “Hollywooded her up a little. She looks a little more glamorous than the one back home. … It’s this wonderful little scene in the movie, and it’s one of the things I’m proudest of, that I actually got to be in the movie.”
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The sequel, which will be available digitally Dec. 1 and on DVD Dec. 20 (see an exclusive clip above!), is the second of a four-show deal Parton has made with NBC. She also plans a TV movie based on her hit song Jolene and her own Christmas musical special. But Parton also said viewers may not have seen the last of the Parton family.
“If we wind up doing a sequel, which we might, it will be called ‘Life of Many Colors,’” she said, “but it will all be based on different stories that really happened to us or my people …
“I think we need more family things,” she added. “I think people are missing shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons, that sort of thing. And obviously they were, because we got a really good rating [on the first film], and we’re hoping this one does as well, and maybe better.”