June 06--When twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane wrote a part for Dolly Parton in a script, they didn't realize getting it to her would turn into a quest. What it turned into was a cross-country trip that became the documentary "From Hollywood to Dollywood." The film, which will make its final festival showing at the Knoxville Film and Music Festival, has been a hit at film festivals around the country.
"It took us about four years to write it," says Gary. "After we finished writing it we sent it to her production company in Nashville and it got sent back as unsolicited material."
The two were not to be dissuaded. They knew Parton would be visiting Dollywood during the opening of the park's 25th season in 2010.
"We thought we'd just give her the script at the park, but what it turned into on the journey was we opened up about ourselves, because we feel that special connection with her. And we met a lot of people on the way that had a strong connection to her. It just turned into something bigger than we ever thought it would be."
The Lane twins grew up in Goldsboro, N.C., and Parton hit their radar when their parents bought a copy of the song "Islands In the Stream," which Parton sang with Kenny Rogers.
"Our parents loved that song and we must have heard that song a million times. Later, when we hit like 13, 14, we'd see her on interviews and they ask her about how she supports her gay following. At the time we might not have known that we were gay, but there's a connection there and we realized that she loved everybody and didn't judge anybody. She's very outspoken about that. ...We were Southern Baptists and had a really strong religious upbringing and we never felt that acceptance from our parents and our church and our school, but we felt it from her."
He says that when the two first embarked on the cross-country journey they hadn't planned on making the film as personal as it became.
"When we started meeting people and they started opening up about what she meant to them we started opening up and it became what it is today."
Until the film became available on DVD, the people the Lanes grew up around in North Carolina didn't acknowledge that the twins were gay.
"Now that it's out on DVD and on Amazon more people are seeing it, we've had teachers and our principal from elementary school reaching out and telling us they're proud of us," says Gary.
He says it has been tough on his parents, but they have been supportive.
In the end, the Lane brothers did meet Parton at Dollywood and pass their script on to her. Later, Parton gave her blessing to the film and allowed her music to be used in it (the twins competed on the ABC show "Wipeout" to raise money for the licensing). The twins agreed to donate 10 percent of the profits from the film to Parton's Imagination Library program, which sends free books to East Tennessee children. During the week there will be a private screening at Dollywood of the film, which will be concluded with the Lane twins donating a check to the organization.
While the two shared a nice moment handing Parton the script and talking for a few moments at Dollywood, they don't know if she's read the script and they haven't had direct contact since. But still, Gary says it feels good to be able to give a check to the Imagination Library:
"You know, the first book they send out to kids is 'The Little Engine That Could.' "
Knoxville Film and Music Festival
What: Screening of "Hollywood to Dollywood" with Gary and Larry Lane, actor Leslie Jordan and other guests
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15
Where: Bijou Theatre
Tickets: $10 (just the "Hollywood to Dollywood" event), $50 (full festival pass), $75 (VIP); $25 (full week pass per week), $50 (VIP). Individual tickets for music events are available. For more information visit www.knoxvillefilms.com
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