Local News

Roanoke Rapids Leaders Say They Want Parton Gone

Posted December 7, 2007 1:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 7, 2007 6:58 p.m. EST

— 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.