LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, men who've gone under the knife to become women, women who have done the same to become men and more, inside the world of transgender people.
With us Felicity Huffman, up for an Oscar for her portrayal of pre-op transsexual in Transamerica; Dolly Parton, the country legend, who wrote a song for that movie.
Cut to Dolly's interview at the end of the program.
KING: We close the program tonight with Dolly Parton, a musical legend, multiple award winner. She's Oscar-nominated songwriter for "Travelin' Thru," the song she wrote for the movie "Transamerica," which has been the basic subject of our program tonight. How did you come to write this?
DOLLY PARTON, SINGER: Well Duncan Tucker, who is the writer/director of the film, I understood he was a fan of mine and he called me and asked if I would write this song. And so I said, I'll give it a try. I was actually on tour and I was out promoting a new C.D. of my own, the C.D. that you know about, "Those were the Days."
And so I said, I don't know if I'm going to have time to work on it, but I'll see. He said, oh please, give it a try. So he sent me a rough cut of the film and he gave me some great direction, gave me some great input and I kicked around with it for a little while and one morning I woke up and it just all come together and now here I am, nominated and I was really shocked and surprised it all happened so quick.
KING: And the lyrics are directly for the film. Example, "I'm out here on my journey trying to make the most of it. I'm a puzzle. I must figure out where all of my pieces fit." Did you like the movie? PARTON: Well actually I thought it was very touching. It was very emotional to me to see someone, you know, that really frustrated with who they are and trying to become who they are and trying to become accepted and seen and loved for that.
And I really think Duncan, the director, handled it so well, all the parts of the movie. I was very, very touched with it. Even the son, little Kevin, I thought he was wonderful. I thought his part was great. And I think just all the ways that they all played together and how tastefully it was done for such a sensitive subject. I was real impressed with it all.
KING: Were you surprised at the nomination?
PARTON: Yes, I was shocked. This is like, it just all, like I said, happened so quick because I got nominated 25 years ago with "9 to 5" but I was of course, that was my first movie and I was very involved in that. And I wrote that one as I was doing the movie.
But this one, the movie had already been written and was already put together and mine was the last piece to go in it. In fact, we barely got the song ready and they dropped it in to the end credits the next day after we recorded it. So it just happened so quick.
The next thing I know, they called and said you're nominated for an Oscar. And I just about fell over but I'm very pleased about it. I get to sing it also on the show. I get to perform it.
Of course, it's five minutes long in the movie. I have to cut it down to two and a half minutes or three, but I think we can get enough, you know, of the song and the meaning of it to make it hopefully be enjoyable.
KING: Well that's fortunate. So you will sing it at the Oscars.
PARTON: Yes, and I'm looking so long forward to going to the Oscars. I'm going to walk the red carpet and do all that stuff and get a chance to see some of those big movie stars I've always wanted to meet.
So I'm going to make a night of it. Actually my date's going to be Duncan Tucker, the writer/director, because he's just such a wonderful guy and he'll make a good escort. So my husband wouldn't go anyway, so I'd either have to find somebody else's husband or take Duncan.
KING: Why have you been -- you've been interested for a long time in gay/lesbian, transgender stories, why?
PARTON: Well, I'm not interested in anything. I haven't made any efforts to do -- I just am totally accepting of people. I really believed that everybody should be allowed to be who they are.
KING: That's what I mean.
PARTON: Well yes, I'm very tolerant of just people in general. I believe we're all God's children. I think we all have a right to be who we are. I'm certainly -- I'm not a judge and I'm certainly not God, so I just try to love the God core in all people. And I know that is in the center of us all, so I just try to accept people for who they are, whatever that is.
KING: Can you tell me how you come up with the process of writing the song, like "Travelin' Thru," where that came?
PARTON: Well, this particular song, I'll make a joke about it. I said when they first called me to write a song about "TransAmerica," I just assumed it was a nice couple traveling around in an R.V. seeing America.
So "Travelin' Thru" just seemed like a nice title, that we're all just here, we're all just passing through until we get to a bigger and better thing, trying to figure out who we are, and asking God to help and lead us.
So I actually -- I wanted to write a song not just aimed at this movie, but I wanted it to be a song that would stand on its own, even if there wasn't a movie so it's really just about asking for help, asking for guidance. And so I put a bit of a little gospel flavor to it.
And so this particular song, I had like I say some good direction and input from Duncan, but normally, the way I write songs, I just kind of sit down and just kind of all starts to flow. I write the music usually and the words, they all kind of come together. But this one, I just, you know, had all the facts and so I just tried to put them together and make them fit for me, to try to Dolly-ize it. But hopefully that it would fit well with the film and evidently it did and I'm very excited about all of this.
KING: Dolly, we'll see you March 5th at the awards. Go get 'em, girl. Hope you win.
PARTON: I will, thank you, it's always good to talk to you.
KING: Same here. Dolly Parton. She wrote "Travelin' Thru," it's the song for "Transamerica," and it's nominated as one of the best songs of the year, nominated for an Oscar. That's it for tonight. Stay tuned for "ANDERSON COOPER 360" and we'll see you tomorrow night. Good night.