Carolina Journal News Reports
Raleigh attorney Johnny M. Loper, who will represent Roanoke Rapids in further dealings with Randy Parton, answers questions from reporters Tuesday
ROANOKE RAPIDS — Dolly Parton released a statement Tuesday saying her brother Randy is “being crucified in the press” and has become a “scapegoat” for the city’s troubled theater project.
Meanwhile, the Roanoke Rapids City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to hire the Raleigh law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice to represent its interests in resolving differences with Randy Parton.
The city council went into a closed session Tuesday night, saying they needed to discuss a legal matter dealing with the Randy Parton Theatre. After coming back into open session, the council approved the motion to hire the Raleigh law firm.
After the council adjourned, Womble Carlyle attorney Johnny M. Loper told reporters that he will be gathering and reviewing documents and will then try to work with Parton’s attorney to resolve any differences.
Last week the mayor and other city officials asked Parton to leave the theater prior to a show because they said he was intoxicated and should not be performing. Parton denied being intoxicated, but said he had been sick. The city does not expect Parton to perform there again.
Dolly Parton’s statement
Pete Owens, Media/Public Relations Manager for The Dollywood Companies in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., released the statement Tuesday from Dolly Parton concerning her brother. As she sees it, her brother did his best to make the project work, but things just didn’t work out.
“I have been involved with a lot of blessed projects but sometimes things are just not meant to be,” her statement reads. “We will probably never know the whole story, whether it was the feasibility study, the show, the promotion, the marketing, or a combination of all of these things.”
Her statement contained evidence of a sister’s concern for a sibling. “It breaks my heart to see my brother, Randy, being crucified in the press when his intentions from the beginning have been to do the best job he could at what he was asked to do,” she said in the statement.
She said her brother had a “very successful show” for years at Dollywood and when “he was offered the opportunity to go outside and do his own thing, naturally he jumped at the chance. Almost every performer I know dreams of developing his or her own theatre and developing their own show.”
The legendary performer and creator of Dollywood said the show her brother produced for the Randy Parton Theatre “top of the line,” and added, “I know in my heart that Randy gave it his best effort. Unfortunately, now that things aren’t working as well as everyone had hoped, everyone is pointing fingers and naturally no one wants to take the blame. It is not fair making Randy the scapegoat for a project where so much and so many were involved.”
She ended the statement with the hope that things will work out in Roanoke Rapids. “I was there for the ribbon cutting ceremony and met a lot of great people from the area,” she said. “I hope they will move forward, forgive each other and create something else that will benefit everyone.”
Parton’s earlier problems
Last week was not the first time Randy Parton has had problems involving alcohol. According to a story in The Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tenn., Parton was stopped in September 1991 by a Gatlinburg police officer who observed Parton driving erratically.
The officer testified that Parton took a swing at him and that he had to push Parton to the ground to subdue him. Parton claimed that he failed a field sobriety test because a knee injury received during the scuffle with the officer made him appear drunk.
The paper also reported that “included in the evidence against Parton was a mug shot of Parton taken at the Sevier County Jail that showed him making an obscene gesture at a jailer.”
Parton was charged with driving under the influence but pleaded not guilty, and the case went to a jury two years later. The jury convicted him.
Four years later, in January 1995, while an employee of Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Parton ran afoul of the park’s management. A letter obtained by CJ outlines the park’s concern with Parton’s behavior.
“You will never again be on Dollywood property in an intoxicated condition,” Dollywood Vice President of Entertainment Patricia Morinelli wrote to Parton. “I cautioned you on one incident and there have been others which have come to my attention after the fact. Any further incident will result in immediate dismissal whether or not you are on the clock.”
Morinelli also warned Parton to refrain from “verbal abuse of any Dollywood employee working with you on any project and this includes your abuse to me personally, and to other Dollywood management. This abuse includes bad language and sexually harassing remarks and gestures.” The letter was copied to Dolly Parton.
Several weeks ago CJ sent the letter to Pete Owens, the Dollywood media relations manager. He acknowledged receiving it but would not comment on it. He did not deny that it was authentic. CJ also sent a copy of the letter to Randy Parton and asked for comment. Parton did not respond.
Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.