'Dolly Parton's Heartstrings' Showrunner Patrick Sean Smith Promises Heart & Humor in Netflix Series
In case there was any doubt: The scripted anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings will deliver on the promise of its title. Slated to stream later this year on Netflix, the eight stand-alone episodes — each inspired by one of the country-music icon’s songs — will be packed to the rafters with pathos. “We’re telling human stories that will undeniably make you feel something,” says showrunner Patrick Sean Smith. “People love Dolly for her heart and humor and authenticity, and that is what we wanted to emulate.”
That’s a pretty tall order, so it’s a good thing it came straight from Parton herself. After the success of the 2015 NBC movie Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors and its follow-up, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors, the 72-year-old singer was compelled to bring more of her catalog to life on the screen. “Dolly’s music is what she considers her legacy,” says executive producer and longtime Parton collaborator Sam Haskell. “This is part of preserving it for generations to come.”
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Naturally, whittling down five decades of treasured tunes to a short list was no easy feat. To that end, the final selections represent a wide range of her material across genres — torch songs, folksy fables, honky-tonks — and they’ve been adapted accordingly. “Jolene,” featuring Julianne Hough as the temptress of the title and Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the worried wife, is a modern relationship drama. “These Old Bones,” starring Kathleen Turner as a mining-town fortune-teller, is reimagined as a 1940s period piece. “JJ Sneed” has become a full-out Western set in the 1880s, complete with Parton playing a balladeer. (Every episode will begin with an introduction from her, but she does acting turns in only a few.)
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The hourlong vignettes can be viewed in any order — think of it as a greatest hits album on shuffle — and share one unmistakable through line. “It’s the ‘Dolly Factor,’ and there’s nothing else like this on television,” Haskell says. As for whether even non-Dolly buffs will enjoy it? “Absolutely,” Smith says with a laugh. “That is, if you can find that one person on the planet who’s not a Dolly fan.”
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, TBA, Netflix