Local News

Dolly Parton Comes to Brother's Defense

Posted December 11, 2007 5:52 a.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2007 10:35 p.m. EST

— Country music star Dolly Parton came to the defense of her brother Tuesday, saying he is being used as a scapegoat for problems at his namesake theater in Roanoke Rapids.

Parton said her brother's act at The Randy Parton Theatre was "top of the line" even though city officials, who borrowed $21.5 million to build the facility, indefinitely banned him from performing. It also cut his salary and removed him from production duties amid slow ticket sales and questions about how he spent public money.

"I know in my heart that Randy gave it his best effort," Parton said in a written statement released by her public relations staff. "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 cited several factors that may have hurt the project, including "the feasibility study, the show, the promotion, the marketing, or a combination of all of these things."

The Roanoke Rapids City Council went into a closed-door session Tuesday night with its attorney, which observers believed was to discuss the city's contract with Randy Parton.

Jim Craig, an official with UGL Unico, the company the city hired to manage the theater after Parton was relieved of that duty, said the company had to plan for the theater's future without him. That was the direction UGL got from the city, he said.

The city released 178 pages of documents Monday detailing how Parton's production company spent more than $2.1 million in city money to launch his namesake theater, though Roanoke Rapids mayor pro-tem Reggie Baird said the new documents don't have any "red flags" like paperwork released last week that showed Parton spent money on liquor and at Las Vegas shows.

Parton ended up using more than $2.4 million of a $3 million fund set up to start the project.

Mayor Drewery Beale has said Parton will not perform at the theater anytime soon. The city has already slashed Parton's compensation and transferred production duties to a UGL,  which is based in Boston.

Parton was sent home last Thursday before a performance. Beale said Parton was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The theater's management said he was "under the weather."

Parton denied the drinking allegation, saying he is the one getting "a raw deal."

"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.

The city borrowed $21.5 million to build the 1,500-seat theater as part of an entertainment hub off Interstate 95.