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DOLLY ‘HOOD

It’s no surprise that Dolly Rebecca Parton has received 46 Grammy nominations, tying her with Beyoncé for most nominations ever for a woman. But for tonight, at least, B. will have to take a seat, because it’s time to bust out the big hair and cake on the makeup. Dollypalooza: An Epic Fan Tribute to Dolly Parton presents an epic lineup of drag, burlesque, cover bands, and performance art pieces—any way to celebrate the high glitz and glamor of our “Backwoods Barbie.” MILK, of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6, reprises her genderbending Dolly act, while Nath Ann Carrera takes a darker turn, presenting “I Don’t Want To Throw Rice, I Want To Throw Rocks: The Early Southern Gothicism of Dolly Parton!” Enter the raffle for a handmade Dolly Parton quilt, as well as Dolly prayer candles, jewelry, and books to benefit the Imagination Library, Dolly Parton’s literacy program. All you hubby-stealing Jolenes better come dressed to the nines, because there’s a cash prize for best Dolly getup.

Fri., Sept. 5, 11 p.m., 2014

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Willie Nelson+Alison Krauss and Union Station+Jerry Douglas+Kacey Musgraves

In this intergenerational gathering of country royalty, the 81-year-old philosopher king of troubadours and the high priestess of bluegrass symbolically pass the torch to Kacey Musgraves, the newest initiate to a club whose membership requires multiple Grammys and the life lessons that earned their stripes. Nelson and Family have never appeared alongside Alison Krauss and Union Station, her band for three decades, including dobro master Jerry Douglas. Musgraves, a Dolly Parton devotee, has got a lot of living to do before she inherits that mantle. Times have changed since the red-headed stranger penned “Willingly” in 1961, but telling it like it is hasn’t.

Tue., June 10, 8 p.m., 2014

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Hollywood to Dollywood

As much a road movie as it is a subtle screed on civil rights, John Lavin’s Hollywood to Dollywood follows two openly gay brothers as they travel from one eponymous location to the other for the sole purpose of handing a spec script to their idol, Dolly Parton. To the uninitiated observer, much of this will no doubt seem strange—it certainly did to this writer—but we’ve reached a point at which any documentary handling such oft-sensationalized subject matter as this in an evenhanded manner is a welcome exception. Neither the brothers (Gary and Larry Lane) nor Lavin himself ever turn this story into a manipulative tearjerker—which would have been easy to do, given how genuinely sad it is at its core. The two North Carolinians spend an inordinate amount of time explaining away their Southern Baptist mother’s inability to accept their homosexuality, continually passing it off as inherited cultural baggage that takes time to resolve itself. Parton, meanwhile, emerges as a near-mythical figure whose laid-back acceptance makes her surprisingly likable: “I think I’ve always been accepted in the gay community because I accept them,” she says at one point in archival footage. (It’s still a bit difficult to imagine her watching the Lanes map out every detail of their scheme without being a little weirded out.) Even at a lean 81 minutes, though, Hollywood to Dollywood occasionally gets tiresome; what it does minute to minute is often less interesting than what it represents.

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9 to 5

Dir. Colin Higgins (1980) Those still weeping over the horrible misuse of Jane Fonda since she emerged from a long hiatus in 2005 (see: this week’s miserable Peace, Love & Misunderstanding) should flock to this 1980 workplace-revenge comedy, which also features the effortlessly charismatic Dolly Parton in her first screen role.

Thu., June 7, 9 p.m., 2012

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Is Nothing Sacred? Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, Sullied, in Joyful Noise

A holy hot mess of the sacred and the inane, Joyful Noise, about a small-town Southern gospel choir, lifts from Usher’s “Yeah!” to give us this inspirational lyric: “Now God and I are the best of homies.”

The film is Jesus for Gleeks—no surprise, since writer-director Todd Graff’s first movie, Camp (2003), which tracks the dramas of a bunch of junior show-tune queens, presaged the popular Fox TV series. Speaking of camp, the diva battle teased in the trailer for Joyful Noise between its two stars, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton (in her first major movie role in two decades), flatlines, as do most of the movie’s jokes. Less Bible-thumping than, say, a Tyler Perry project, Joyful Noise is still on an ecumenical outreach mission, its gags overshadowed by its focus on weightier, bluntly shoehorned-in subjects, like economic calamity and Asperger’s syndrome.

Pacashau, Georgia, where every home and local franchise seems to have a (repeatedly cut-to) “For Sale” or “Going Out of Business” sign, pins the little hope it has left on the Divinity Church’s multiracial choir, once again in the semifinals for a national gospel competition. After the opening-scene death of the singing group’s leader, Bernard Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson, appearing mainly as a specter), the pastor (Courtney B. Vance) appoints Vi Rose (Latifah) to replace him, ruffling G.G. (Parton), Bernard’s widow and the church’s main benefactor. Brooking no sass, righteous Vi Rose works as a nurse to support her two teenage kids—Olivia (Keke Palmer), also in the choir, and Walter (Dexter Darden), whose difficulty in social interactions manifests itself in hiding behind sunglasses and spouting off his encyclopedic knowledge of one-hit wonders—while her husband is stationed hundreds of miles away on an army base. Vi Rose insists the choir stick with traditional arrangements, “traditional” a term broad enough to encompass Olivia’s repurposing of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as an ode to Him. The secular and the ecclesiastical further mix when G.G.’s grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan, an Efron-esque annoyance), kicked out of his mom’s house in New York, dons a purple robe in Pacashau to sing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

Latifah and Parton, two effortlessly charismatic performers on-screen, are pleasing enough matriarchs, doing their best when forced to deliver nonsensical mouthfuls as country wisdom. “There’s always free cheese in the mousetrap, but trust me—the mice there aren’t happy,” Vi Rose threatens one of Olivia’s would-be suitors. Her warnings to Randy once he starts smooching her daughter sound even loopier, though these rebukes are preferable to her potted consolation when her son asks why “God made me this way.”

Latifah, who executive-produced, at least has a somewhat rousing rejoinder in the film’s final third, demanding the respect owed her, as a selfless provider forced to take a second job, by the increasingly insolent Olivia. Parton, however, is stuck with corn like “Trying to fool me is like trying to sneak sunrise past a rooster.” (The country-music legend also takes several digs about her ghastly plastic surgery; her willingness to be made fun of does not make looking at her any less traumatic.)

The climactic sing-off is gaudy, Vegas-style maximalist mega-church entertainment, more piled on top of more, kicked off by a real gospel star (Karen Peck) who looks like Paula Deen as styled by Callista Gingrich. The Pacashau choir’s number is an ungodly medley, and there is now a special place reserved in hell for those responsible for making Parton sing a few lines of Chris Brown’s “Forever.” Jesus wept. So will you.

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Kinyarwanda

One of the goals of writer-director Alrick Brown’s Kinyarwanda, set in the midst of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, is to remind us that ordinary human dramas continue unfolding against the backdrop of unthinkable horrors. So as machete-wielding madmen are slaughtering their countrymen and -women, teenagers are falling in love (even across the very ethnic divisions inflaming the country), and married men are cheating on their wives. Culled from true stories and told elliptically in chapters (i.e., “She’s Tutsi/He’s Hutu”) that flash back and forward through time, the screenplay is filled with moments both charming and horrifying, sometimes all at once. We see how a teenager’s defiance of her parents saves her life, how a little boy’s misunderstanding of a mob’s fury leads him to bring the mob right to his home, and how a priest betrays the terrified crowd that has gathered in his church for protection, among other tales. Cast with both professional and novice actors (which results in uneven performances), the beautifully shot film is filled with exquisite moments: a man testifying of his crimes at a tribunal for reconciliation as his remorse wafts thickly off him; a gathering of teens breaking into a sing-along of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream”; and a wedding whose participants radiate such joy that it tilts the viewer’s faith back toward trusting human nature.

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GOING TO THE CHAPEL

Four years ago, Mrs.V and Cherelynore first laid eyes on each other at the faux-queen party debut Victoria at the Stonewall, and—yadda, yadda, yadda—they’re legally getting married tonight! Our very own Sharyn Jackson, co-creator of the Victoria and “We Love the Golden Girls” party, has become a wedding planner for tonight’s celebratory nuptials that include a runway contest and a style station where guests are invited to become their very best faux-queen. (Think Dolly Parton, Cher, Madonna, or, as the flyer explains, women with “gay men trapped in their vaginas.”) Amber Martin will act as DJ and host. Murray Hill will officiate the ceremony. Who else did you expect?

Sat., Sept. 24, 2011

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HERE YOU COME AGAIN

Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Tennessee theme park, is an embarrassment of riches for fans of the Smoky Mountain Songbird. It’s got a replica of the Appalachian cabin in which she grew up, members of her extended family working the BBQ stands, and one of her wig-and-sparkly-outfit-packed tour buses. One thing it doesn’t have, however, is a transgender gospel singer doing tributes to some of Parton’s most soulful work. That’s why that’s Tennessee, and this is New York. Tonight, catch Our Lady J in the fourth annual Gospel of Dolly. The singer, who incidentally is best buds with Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, will be joined by the Train-to-Kill Gospel Choir for a spiritual journey through the hits of our favorite country queen.

Tue., Dec. 28, 9:30 p.m., 2010

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SHEAR GOODNESS

What is the real measure of someone’s character? To this retail survivor, it’s buying a watch. Several years ago, in my period of indentured servitude at a certain iconic New York department store, many famous faces perused my gleaming jewelry and timepiece counters, and in turn provided an honest look into their true personalities. For example, a much-heralded, seemingly kindly, older Academy Award–winning actress was a curt, foul-tempered witch. Chris Martin of Coldplay was a grinning, affable goofball eager to debate the virtues of Radiohead. And Jake Shears, the brains and booty behind Scissor Sisters, was one of my favorite customers from any walk of life, a friendly and unassuming young man who bought a beautiful Mother’s Day gift while warmly sharing his love for New York, music journalism, and Dolly Parton. I think I spent his commission on another copy of Ta-Dah. So thanks for making one shopgirl’s day a little more wonderful, Jake. When the gregarious carnival that is your band hits Terminal 5 (in support of your extra-disco dance-pop newest, Night Work), I’ll be there with bells on.

Tue., Aug. 24, 8 p.m., 2010

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Susanna & the Magical Orchestra

Whether performing their own material or covers of such well-known tunes as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” this Norwegian duo sounds likes Goldfrapp minus the glittery disco beats or Björk with a case of the blahs.

Tue., June 29, 10:30 p.m., 2010