Dolly Parton
Knoxville News-Sentinel
September 15, 2001
Parton accentuates positive in trying times
By Terry Morrow

PIGEON FORGE — Dolly Parton was smiling, flirting with fans and singing Friday at Dollywood because she says it's during trying times like these that entertainers need to stay positive.

"It's hard," she said during an interview at Dollywood.  "That's when you really need to stay upbeat if you can.  ... It's always good to help the other people that can't get up from this.

"I think everybody is dealing with this tragedy in their own kind of way, based on what they feel and what their own fears and insecurities are.  I'm a very patriotic person, but I also know that when things are at their worst that I need to be at my best."

Parton has been in her native Sevier County for the past week filming for a new Dollywood simulation ride that debuts next spring and appearing in segments with popular British late-night talk show host Graham Norton.

For Norton, host of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s "So Graham Norton," the terrorist attacks may delay his return to England.

"I can't think of any safer place in the world to be than here," Norton said.  "It's so odd to be here — sort of surreal.

"The day it happened, the park was shut, and we were filming here.  Instead of music being piped through, there were news reports being piped through.  I had my lunch on a bench listening to news reports coming out of a stone in a flower bed."

Between filming comedy bits, Norton and Parton talked about the attacks.

"She feels the same way as everyone else.  It's an awful, awful thing," he said.  "The day it happened, we were all in a very, very weird place."

Parton's Dixie Stampede had a sold-out show on Tuesday night, hours after the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon.

"It was incredibly emotional there - really charged," said Norton, who attended the show.  "The performers on the horses were crying, and since then working has been OK.  People needed a release from what was happening."

Dollywood officials had cautioned Friday that Parton did not want to talk about the attacks during an interview with the News-Sentinel.  However, the entertainer was open about how she was feeling.

"I'm in a good place in my life," Parton said.  "I basically have a happy heart."

The recent national crisis makes Parton "very emotional" and stimulates her urge to write songs.

"Everybody deals with this differently.  I deal with it very internally," she said.  "I see how everybody else deals with it, and I am able to write about their emotions.  It allows me a way to express (sorrow), not just for myself, but for the people who can't put (their emotions) into words.  It's very strange and deep places where I am going."

Because of the crisis Tuesday, Parton had postponed announcing Dollywood's $10 million expansion project for next spring.  It will include a simulation ride, a museum focused on her career and a restaurant.  The expansion will be near the theme park's '50s-era section.

Parton will enter Mickey Mouse country when she builds a new Dixie Stampede theater near Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., next year.