Q It Up: Tell Us a Story! - The Dolly Parton Interview

The Dolly Parton Interview

From Dave Spiker [davespiker[at]aol.com], Imagination Media, Fayetteville, Georgia

Here’s my story. It was 1979. I was a grizzled veteran... 3 whole years in radio, the ripe age of 22. I was producing an interview program for one of the airlines’ in-flight channels. We got the green light to interview Dolly Parton at the home of her manager, Sandy Gallin. We hired a famous LA radio personality to ask the questions. I had convinced (read: bamboozled) my boss into letting me take my dad with me to the interview. Rationale: I was the producer of the interview... my dad produced me... so he must be the executive producer. (Side note: my dad never cared so much about what I did for a living until that day!)

So we pull up the windy driveway to this enormous house in the Hollywood Hills. I get out and knock on the door. The butler (of course there’s a butler) says the interview will be conducted in the game room across the driveway. I looked across the driveway. The game room was another HOUSE! The entire house! We start setting up our equipment on this hot summer day. And back then it was a whole lot more involved than a handheld MP3 recorder, let me tell you. The tuxedoed butler reappears with a silver platter on which was the biggest pitcher of the best ice-cold lemonade I have ever tasted. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Sipping this awesome lemonade inside an elegant two-story house filled with every jukebox, pinball game, ping-pong table, air hockey game, and custom neon sign you can imagine.

Well, the world-famous host showed up. We had worked with him several times before. Consummate professional. Unflappable. Had interviewed EVERYBODY! Well, when Dolly walked in, suddenly he was no longer unflappable. He became a goofy schoolboy. Evidently Dolly was the only celebrity he’d never interviewed but always wanted to. He started off telling Dolly a “Dolly Parton joke.” (You pretty much know how those go.) My life flashed before my eyes. I figured Dolly would soon be walking out screaming something about “you’ll... never... work... this town... again.” Surprisingly, when he finished his joke, Dolly slapped her knee and roared with laughter! And then she proceeded to tell HIM a Dolly Parton joke! The rest of the interview was a breeze. She was warm, funny, candid and charming. And I lived to work another day.

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