Dolly Parton Explains How Her Netflix Christmas Movie Helped ‘Uplift the World’

by Jennifer Shea

When she set out to make it, country superstar Dolly Parton didn’t anticipate that her Netflix Christmas special would be airing in the midst of a global pandemic.

But she’s sort of glad it did. Because “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” brought entertainment to millions of people in need of some escape from the grim reality of COVID-19. And as executive producer, star and composer of the program, Parton sees her Christmas special as “a perfect little storm” of components that add up to a great time for audiences.

“Who knew that when we were creating this movie, that it would be aired in the middle of the pandemic, and it would bring so much joy and so much hope to millions of people around the world?” Parton said on a recent panel for Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees event. “I think that was one of greatest gifts that we gave and didn’t even know quite when we were doing it that we were going to help uplift the world.”

Dolly Parton Enjoyed Writing the Music for the Emmy-Nominated Special

The Netflix special is now up for two Emmy Awards. It received nominations for Outstanding TV Movie and Outstanding Choreography. At the Deadline panel, choreographer, director and executive producer Debbie Allen said Parton’s score made choreographing the movie a joy.  

“I had such a wonderful time collaborating with Dolly because she wrote all this great music,” Allen said.

For her part, Parton credited the script with creating vibrant characters. And that made the music easy to write, she said. Parton tried to make the score a blend of upbeat numbers and sentimental fare, as befits a holiday movie.

“We had this wonderful script and characters, so I just really played off of the characters,” Parton said modestly. “I wanted to write things that really fit who they were and where they were from… You want to have fun stuff and things that also touch you, so it was easy doing that. And I had a good time.”  

Parton Also Did Her Part to End the Pandemic

Not content merely to entertain people during a pandemic, Dolly Parton also did her part to end it. The singer donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University to help fund the development of the Moderna vaccine.

Parton then tweeted a video of her own vaccination experience this past March. The country superstar got the Moderna vaccine. Upon receiving it, she promptly sang “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiine” to the tune of her hit song “Jolene.”

The Moderna vaccine was the second COVID-19 vaccine to get an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moderna is currently awaiting full FDA approval of its vaccine. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Yahoo Finance this month that based on Pfizer’s expected approval in late August to September, they anticipate Moderna will hear back from the FDA around October.

“[It’s] very important it’s done thoroughly,” Bancel said. “It’s the credibility of the agency that’s on the line. It’s the credibility of our vaccine. And so we really want this to be done as punctual as possible. And I trust the FDA to make sure this is done in such a manner.”

Meanwhile, Parton will continue bringing joy to her fans. Since her Netflix special came out, the workaholic superstar has not rested on her laurels but has continued to write, sing and otherwise churn out content for her millions of followers around the world.