Dolly Parton has been hard at work recording the soundtrack for Netflix’s “Dumplin’,” an adaptation of Julie Murphy’s 2015 young adult novel. In the book, 16-year-old Willowdean Dickson (Will to her friends, Dumplin’ to her mother) introduces herself as “Cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl,” and that’s about the gist of her character.
The premise of the story follows Will, who’s always thought she was confident despite her weight, as she comes face-to-face with her insecurities after her longtime crush finally starts to take an interest in her. To prove her self-esteem to herself (and to the rest of her small Texas town), she enrolls in the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant -- the pageant that her own mother runs and is idolized by the town for winning back in her day.
Will has a special quirk, though: She
loves reveres Dolly Parton. She impersonates Parton as her talent in the pageant, her car’s name is Jolene -- the book even begins with a quote by Parton: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
The movie is being adapted by producer Kristin Hahn (“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “The Departed”) and director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal,” “27 Dresses”) -- quite the female-led production, huh? -- and will star “Patti Cake$” lead Danielle Macdonald as Will and Jennifer Aniston as her beauty queen mother.
It’s only fitting that Parton gets involved too, right? What was supposed to be a one-off musical addition by the 72-year-old country star actually ended up turning into a full-blown soundtrack, so we’ll be hearing a lot of Parton when “Dumplin’” hits Netflix (and theaters!) on Dec. 7.
Parton performed original song “Girl at the Movies,” a power piece about being confident and free, at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills yesterday and said that she has high hopes for the tune.
“We’re just happy to be here because we’re actually out politicking trying to get our song heard and maybe get nominated for an award on those Oscars and all that stuff. We’re really, really proud of this,” she told Variety.
Could this one compete with “Shallow” at the Academy Awards next year?
Parton teamed up with producer Linda Perry, and the two hit it off so well that more songs than they were anticipating were born, including a new rendition of 1972’s “Here I Am” with Sia, which will act as the film’s lead single, and more collabs with Miranda Lambert, Elle King and Miley Cyrus. There’s even a new version of “Jolene” (!!!).
“When we got together to write a theme song, lordy, songs just kept coming out of us,” Parton said to Entertainment Weekly, and Perry highlighted the tenacity and seriousness the singer treats her work with.
“I don’t think people understand the work ethic of Dolly,” Perry explained. “When we got together, six songs were written in a total of three days. Then one day she came into my studio and sang six songs in one day.”
And don’t worry -- if you can’t get enough of Dolly after both reading the book and seeing this new movie, this won’t be the last of her you’ll get from Netflix: Parton said she’s working on an anthology show with the streaming service, complete with even more songs that she’s written.