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Roanoke Rapids Leaders Say They Want Parton Gone

Posted December 7, 2007

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— City officials want the namesake of the Randy Parton Theatre gone, and a representative for the $21.5 million facility said they are replacing the country singer for the remainder of the Christmas season.

The City Council will meet Tuesday night when it could give the mayor authority to direct the city attorney to look into whether Parton is in breach of his contract and the legal ramifications of terminating the contract.

"There is a very strong chance of that happening," Mayor Drewery Beale said Friday.

Parton's attorney, Nick Ellis, said the city is violating the contract by not letting his client perform.

The brother of country music performer Dolly Parton, Parton both headlined and managed the theater until the city stripped him last month of his management duties and cut his salary from $1.5 million to $250,000.

City officials have said the theater has lost money with lower-than-expected attendance numbers and that Parton nearly exhausted a $3 million reserve fund made of taxpayer money.

"It's just like getting a new toy," Beale said. "Sometimes, after you get it, you find out it had some flaws in it."

On Thursday, city officials asked Parton to go home before his performance because he was "not in a state where he should go on stage." The theater's management, UGL Unicco, said he was "under the weather."

Beale, who was a law enforcement officer for 44 years, said Friday that he thought Parton had been drinking.

"In my opinion, Randy Parton was under the influence of alcohol," Beale said.

Leaving the theater Thursday, Parton denied that he had been drinking and criticized the city, saying he thinks he has been treated unfairly.

"I've done a good job. I've done everything I'm supposed to do," Parton said. "I have honored all my agreements. I've got a good show."

Officials said Thursday was the second time this week Parton acted unprofessionally before or during a performance. On Saturday, they said, he used profanity on stage and several audience members walked out.

Parton's conduct, city leaders said, violates the contract.

"It's not us letting him down," Beale said. "He's let the city down."

Parton insisted Thursday that he has delivered what he has promised.

"I was trying to do something for the city and the community here in Roanoke Rapids, and this is the thanks I get," he said.

148 Comments

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  • NC is my home Dec 9, 2007

    Expensive lessons learned on all sides. An entertainment meca isn't built in a day, or even a year. It takes time and planning and lots of hard work. I hope Mr. Parton & Roanoke Rapids can work out the problems. It would help if the media isn't so anxious to report on the negative. Too bad they couldn't report about it being built and the previous shows more. How soon we forget the tribute to Randy Parton's "new home state", etc!

  • sykesterryb Dec 9, 2007

    I saw trouble coming with this venue back in the summer when
    I went to the rptheatre website to check the schedule of events
    after its opening. There were none but Randy himself, 4 nights
    a week. He probably has quite a regional following back in East
    Tennessee, but unless you're aware of Dolly Parton's family tree, no one has ever heard of him. Casting no dispersions on the man himself, the beginning contract should have insisted on
    other acts being booked into the theatre besides just Parton.
    And the comments about his drinking. How ridiculous. I know that country singers don't "touch the stuff" (lol). And I applaud any retired "old timers" from the paper mill in Roanoke Rapids for surviving that foul place. I grew up in the area and on certain days the smell could travel 40 miles. It has cleaned up its act since then, but not entirely. No one would mistake it with a field of honeysuckle. And the Roanoke Rapids exit has practically the same offerings as Emporia!

  • cheapseats Dec 9, 2007

    It looks to me that the local pols in RR are trying to blame Parton for their stupid mistakes. This $ deal is insane. Randy Parton for 1.5M plus an open expense account. I am stunned. Anyone involved in this decision should resign.

  • richard2 Dec 9, 2007

    A 21 million dollar toy. Mmmmmmmm

  • chrisa Dec 9, 2007

    redstarlean said: "That is a fair question However why are these people kept having to live in trailers and trailer parks? Can it be because education is devalued in places like RR? Just drive through any small town in NC and what you will see? Fundamentalist churches and more churches. It will only begin to change when Education and critical thinking is valued as much as the religious superstition is now"

    You and I may end up alone on this one, but I agree to some degree

  • lilmskbe04 Dec 8, 2007

    I think its hillarious I don't live to far from the whole thing. Yeah the concerts have been great!But I'm so glad Randy is gone though. I've heard that there have been several big name singers that wanted to come perform here in Halifax Co. but Randy wouldnt let them come because he didn't want to share the lime light... now maybe we can have us a real good times with some more great singers!!!

    As for the trailer trash thing... Oh don't insult online. How old are you?

  • redstarlean Dec 8, 2007

    No the fugowe tribe is from Brooklyn NY.. You see they didn't have a name until one day when they got lost down south one said to the other: Where the f### are we. someone heard it and the named stuck! And the fugowe tribe was born!
    ;

  • Skywatch_NC Dec 8, 2007

    "IDEA!!!! Sell the property to the Native American tribe within the area. They can then contract and build casino to rival Cherokee." And which tribe might that be? The fugowey tribe maybe?

    The Haliwa Saponi from Hollister.

  • redstarlean Dec 8, 2007

    "rnsjr, did it ever occur to you that some folks can't afford to live in a house for ie? So a trailer is the next best thing."

    That is a fair question However why are these people kept having to live in trailers and trailer parks? Can it be because education is devalued in places like RR? Just drive through any small town in NC and what you will see? Fundemntalist churches and more churches. It will only begin to change when Education and critical thinking is valued as much as the religious supersition is now

  • redstarlean Dec 8, 2007

    "IDEA!!!! Sell the property to the Native American tribe within the area. They can then contract and build casino to rival Cherokee." And which tribe might that be? The fugowey tribe maybe?

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