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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Beyonce; Interview With Dolly Parton

Aired November 26, 2009 - 17:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the incredible Beyonce.


KING: She is a world superstar.

Expanding her entertainment empire, obsessed with a movie role unlike anything she's ever done.





KING: Beyonce talks Michelle Obama and Jay Z.

Will there be babies?


KNOWLES: Of course I want to be a mother.


KING: Plus, comedian Dane Cook's personal nightmare -- his own brother is accused of stealing millions he was supposed to be managing.

How could that have happened?


Good evening.

What a pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE -- finally, Beyonce. We've been waiting a long time for the 10-time Grammy- winning recording artist.

She's launching her tour -- world tour this week. She opens on -- her new movie, "Obsessed," opens on Friday.

Why -- why -- are you opening in Croatia?

KNOWLES: I am opening in Croatia.

KING: How did that come about?

KNOWLES: Well, I've been fortunate to be able to tour around the world for years. We started with, of course, Kelly and Michelle of Destiny's Child. Our first album came out when I was 15 years old.

And we started traveling to Europe and to Japan. And over the years, we built up our fan base. And, you know, this is actually my first time in Croatia. But every time I keep -- you know, I'm able to travel and go to different places and keep expanding.

KING: It's nice to be known everywhere in the world.

KNOWLES: Thank you.

KING: Who made the decision that you, as a career, will use first name only?

KNOWLES: Well, my name, Beyonce, is actually my mother's maiden name. Her last name is Beyonce. And there were no more men in the family, no more sons. So she said let me name my daughter, her first name, Beyonce. And that's a little confusing enough. You know, growing up I was called "Be-yownce" and "Bounce" and "Be-amichi." And Beyonce is easy enough.


KING: All right, earlier this year, you knocked everybody out when you sang "At Last," that great song, for Obama's first dance during the Inaugural.

Here's a little bit of that and then I'll ask you about it.




KING: Great song, an original. That was originally a hit by the great Jimmy Dorsey and the orchestra.

What was it like to sing that?

KNOWLES: Could you imagine?

I mean, I was standing there. They were right in front of me. And the love they have. And the -- they're so gracious. And it was just so contagious. And everyone in the room had goose bumps, including myself.

And it was really difficult for me to stay focused and not to lose control, because it was so overwhelming. And I know they personally asked me to do the -- the performance, so I wanted to make sure I did it justice. So I tried to keep reminding myself, OK, they asked you personally, so you have to do a good job. And that's the only way I kept my composure, because it was really, really a beautiful, beautiful moment.

And I feel like I've worked all these years for that moment. It's the highlight of my career.

KING: Is that song now in your repertoire?

KNOWLES: Yes, it is. I actually was able to play the legendary Etta James in a film I co-produced called "Cadillac Records," and...

KING: A great movie.

KNOWLES: ... you know, she's had a very interesting life. And...

KING: Yes, no kidding.

KNOWLES: ... and I admire her so much. It was very dramatic and really difference for me. And it was a stretch for me. I wasn't sure if I was able to do -- if I was ready to do it. And thank God I had the support of my mother. And she convinced me, you're ready.

And believe it or not, it's the best performance I've ever given on screen.

And I learned a lot from playing that character. She has had, you know, a very amazing life -- a lot of accomplishments.

And thank God I'm now able to sing that song, "At Last," every night. It's a song that -- all over the world, no matter where I go, everyone knows it and loves it. And it just gives you that -- that feeling inside that just reminds you of that time. And I'm very blessed to sing it.

KING: It's a beautiful song.


KING: The Jimmy Dorsey record had it all chorus singing it with that -- with lots of instruments...

KNOWLES: Really?

KING: Yes.

KNOWLES: Believe it or not, I've never heard it. I need to go and check it out.

KING: It was a number one song in America in, like, 1958.


KING: No kidding.

KNOWLES: OK. KING: OK. Now you often talk about an onstage alter ego, "Sasha Fierce."



Was Sasha Fierce or Beyonce singing that song?

KNOWLES: Oh, that was definitely Beyonce.


KNOWLES: Sasha Fierce, I usually use when I'm really nervous and when I'm on the stage and I have to do up-tempo songs and I have to be really sexy in my dance videos.

But, you know, it's interesting because the older I get, the more Sasha Fierce comes out all the time.

So it's kind of merging. And the name of my album is "I Am... Sasha Fierce," because really it's -- you know, I am. It's the same person. It's just kind of my alter ego and the stronger version of myself.

KING: A great name, by the way.

KNOWLES: Thank you.

KING: The Barack Obama presidency -- what does it mean to you?

KNOWLES: I'm so proud. You know, I've -- I've always said it, I never thought I would live for this -- you know, to see this moment. And I'm very happy with the progress our country has already made.

And being someone that's traveled around the world, I had never seen the enthusiasm in people that don't -- that are not Americans.

And it was time and it's here. And we're all so, so fortunate to be here and all feel like we can give back and be more involved.

Because there's a lot of things, you know, that, I think, especially young people, we never felt like we were being spoken to. And now we do. And now it's cool to be involved and to do other things for other people. And even to -- to -- you know, even on -- with Twitter and CNN and -- it's just wonderful the movement that's going on with my generation.

KING: Have you -- by the way, have you ever experienced racism?

KNOWLES: Of course. I think, you know, it's definitely something that's

-- it's here. But I think it's getting a lot better. And I always try to focus on the positive and the progress that we've made. And there's so many people that have sacrificed and have gone through so much for us. And now we don't have to experience it as much. And I almost -- you know, I believe that slowly we -- hopefully, in a couple of years, will all be all mixed up and it won't exist.

KING: Yes.

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

KNOWLES: It would be wonderful.

KING: We're going to take a break. And when we come back, we'll ask you about your new movie, "Obsessed." In our tell-all world of celebrity, Beyonce is very private.

How does she keep her life to herself?




KING: We're back with Beyonce.

Your new movie, "Obsessed," opens this week -- a psychological thriller. You play a woman whose husband gets tangled up with a female stalker.

Let's watch a clip.


IDRIS ELBA, ACTOR: Sharon, come on...

KNOWLES: Get out of my house!

ELBA: This is crazy, Sharon! Can't you see what's happening?

KNOWLES: Get out of my house.

ELBA: Nothing happened with this -- OK. You know what? You just tell me what you want me to do and that's what I'll do! Huh?

KNOWLES: First, I suggest you pack your toothbrush. And then I want you to get your socks, your shaving kit, your underwear, you prophylactics if you think you need them, and get your ass out of here!

ELBA: And go where, Sharon?

KNOWLES: To hell! But until then, I suggest maybe the Four Seasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Whoa. The movie is "Obsessed." Who's the actor?

KNOWLES: That's Idris Elba. He's amazing. And, you know, he brought out a lot of wonderful things in my performance. It was the first time I did improv. And, you know, he is a student and a great teacher. And we've spent a lot of time just with the two of us going back and forth with the script and making adjustments and making it our own.

And I think, you know, I learned -- I learned so much from working with him...

KING: Did you...

KNOWLES: ...and Ali Larter.

KING: Did you like -- a lot of rough scenes in this.

Did you like that kind of heavy drama?

KNOWLES: I actually like it a lot more. You know, I still like -- it's easier for me. And I guess it's because I hold so many things in, because I always have to be so professional. And I work very, very hard.

So all of those things that -- all of the things that I hold in, I'm able to -- to let out when I do movies. And it's really just exhilarating for me to release all of that, you know, when I do dramatic roles.

KING: Yes.

So you've never had fights like that in real life?

KNOWLES: No, not like that.


KNOWLES: You know, especially not the one in the end. But you know, it's life. I've seen it and I use all of my own experiences and my experiences from my friends and from everyone around me.

KING: Do you like acting as much as singing?


KING: Really?

KNOWLES: I didn't in the beginning. It took me -- it took me a couple of movies, because I was born to sing. I really believe I was born to more than sing, to entertain. And it's very natural for me. And acting came very naturally.

But once I was able to make the connection that the same -- I can experience the same out of body experience when I do a movie, the same excitement. And, you know, I'm completely not in my head. I'm completely free when I'm on the stage.

And for the first time, I kind of had that light bulb moment when I did the last movie, "Cadillac Records," that it's the same thing. And now I'm able to not be conscious of the camera and to have really private moments and expose myself.

And I'm -- I'm really excited now. I get that same adrenaline rush.

KING: That's -- that's terrific. You and Jennifer Hudson, you were both at the NAACP Image Awards in February.


KING: And Jennifer suffered that tragedy last year of the murder of her mother and brother and young nephew.

How is she doing?

KNOWLES: I actually just spoke with her. She's doing, I think, very well. She just had a show in Madison Square Garden. And she's such an inspiration, such a beautiful and talented woman. And I'm fortunate to -- to be someone that was with her on her first movie. She's grown so much. And, you know, just to see her strength is beyond inspiring.

KING: Tell me about marriage. You and your husband, Jay-Z -- a terrific performer in and of himself. You marked your first anniversary this month.

What do you know now you didn't know a year ago?

KNOWLES: Oh, I mean, I know so much every year. Jay and I have always been very private about our relationships. And, you know, I -- even after we became husband and wife, we still continue to be private. And I think it's protected us from -- from a lot of things. And people give us a lot of respect. And I guess I learned that as happy as I am, I still need to keep -- keep it private.


KING: All right.

How are you able, in this modern world -- and you mentioned it, tweeters and CNN's and paparazzi and people following down the street and inquiring minds and tabloids -- how do you stay private?

KNOWLES: It's really difficult, very difficult -- especially when you're happy. And some people just make up things and make up rumors and -- to try to get you to speak and defend things. And you just have to be really secure in your relationship.

And I -- I was always a private person. It's difficult, but I know in the end, the amount of time we've been together is longer than, you know, most people in this industry. You know, it's very rare. So it must be working. KING: True.

KNOWLES: So it must be working.

KING: Beyonce starts her world tour tomorrow. The movie "Obsessed"


And we'll be back with more.

We've been talking about that movie.

What is Beyonce obsessed with?

KNOWLES: What am I obsessed with?

KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds.



KING: Don't go away.



KING: We are back with the fabulous Beyonce.

Let's take a look at one of the songs you just can't get out of your head -- a huge hit from a recent album, "Single Ladies."





KING: That, by the way, was so big, it inspired a number of parodies.

And here's how "Saturday Night Live" paid tribute.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Single Ladies" video, take two.






KING: Did you like that?


KNOWLES: Oh, it was so hilarious. It was very difficult to stay focused. I told him in rehearsals, make sure I'm ahead of them so I can't see what they're doing, because I -- I couldn't keep a straight face.

And, actually, Justin Timberlake came to the dressing room. It was a surprise. It wasn't planned. He came, showed up in his bodysuit. And he was like, I'm here.

So it was really a great -- it actually was the first parody. And it started a whole, you know, it's gone on YouTube. It's thousands of people.

KING: It's terrific.

KNOWLES: Yes, it's amazing.

KING: We'll be right back with Beyonce.

Don't go away.



KING: We're back with Beyonce.

By the way, her tour, the "I Am" tour -- world tour -- starts in Croatia this Sunday. Her movie, "Obsessed," opens tomorrow, wide.

You told "Vogue" magazine that you called Michelle Obama after the Inaugural to thank her for the opportunity. And you say she told you she was glad that her daughters had someone like you to look up to.

How did that make you feel?

KNOWLES: Oh, you know, it's something that is the ultimate compliment.

KING: Yes.

KNOWLES: Especially -- especially right now. I always had -- I have a younger sister, so I feel like I've always had someone that looked up to me. But to think that, you know, I'm responsible for so many young people, sometimes, is really overwhelming. But I am very conscious of that when I make decisions. And especially the older I get, you know, I don't take it for granted. And especially for beautiful children, you know, like -- like the Obamas. I met them. And they're so young. And I can only imagine the pressure that they have to be under.

But they're -- they're amazing children. And, you know, I -- I will always be aware and always try my best to be a great role model.

KING: You like that idea, then?

KNOWLES: I really do. You know, it used to terrify me. But now I feel like it's -- you know, my music is bigger than just performing and dancing and videos. I have a voice and I try to -- to teach women how badly we need each other, how much we need to support each other and how anything that you really want, you have to work for.

And that's something that I feel like I can now be an example to young people.

KING: Your husband, Jay-Z, had a lot to do with Rihanna's early career. And back in February, he said he thought everyone should support her in that mess with Chris Brown.

How do you feel about that whole thing?

KNOWLES: Well, I think she's doing a lot better. She is such a very talented woman -- and very smart. And I think it's really important in those times of need that people give people their privacy.

So all you can do is -- is pray and, you know, leave it up to the people around her and her to make great decisions.

And now -- and she has and she and she will. And, you know, I'm here to support her, as well as all of my family. She's like family to me. And all of -- Jay and all of my family.

KING: All right. Let's go to other things. You've got a successful clothing line. People call you a fashion icon. So I'm going to ask you about something else.

What do you think about -- everyone talks about her -- the way Michelle Obama dresses?

KNOWLES: Oh, she's so chic. And she -- one thing about her, she knows how to dress appropriately. Wherever she is, she is just -- her lines are always clean. She knows how to dress for her body. Very timely. You see her pictures years from now, they will never be out of style or out of fashion.

And she's very, very classy, of course.

KING: But she ain't buying on Rodeo Drive.

KNOWLES: No. And that's something that -- that she teaches us. You don't have to -- to spend a lot of money to look like Michelle Obama, who is the fashion icon. I think that's, you know, something that, especially right now, in this time, we all need to know.

KING: By the way, with this tour starting Sunday, are you getting a little nervous?

KNOWLES: Oh, of course, especially the first couple of shows. There's so many things that -- that can go wrong. But, you know, you just have to kind of fight through it. And right now, it's getting easier.

I've actually done a couple of shows in Canada. And the crowd and my reviews were all amazing. The crowd loved it. So, you know, I'm never satisfied. Every night I watch the show and -- and I give my notes and I always try to critique and make things better.

But I still get nervous. That's why I created Sasha Fierce.


KING: Yes, well, Sinatra told me the same thing. Every time before he went on stage -- and he said, if you don't get that...

KNOWLES: Then be nervous.

KING: ...something is the matter.

KNOWLES: Didn't be nervous. It's true. Something is wrong. It's time to go find another job.


KING: We'll have a few more moments with Beyonce and we'll spend them right after this.



KING: We've got a little surprise for you coming in a moment, Beyonce.

But I want to ask you about these food drives that you're involved with. You co-sponsor, as part of a -- part of your tour, what -- how does it work?

KNOWLES: Well, right now, one in eight Americans don't have proper meals. So I've teamed up with Hamburger Helper and Feeding America. And our goal is to donate 1. -- I'm sorry, 3.5 million meals to local food banks.

So I'm encouraging all of my fans to bring canned goods -- non- perishable items -- to my tour. And they're going to actually go to the -- the local food banks.

KING: Huh. KNOWLES: And also, the ticket sales -- you know, the tickets are expensive right now in this economic time and this struggle right now. So we are offering $20 tickets with the service charge. So 2,000 seats every night. Everyone can come and see the show.

KING: That is a terrific idea.

KNOWLES: Thank you.

KING: I salute you on that.

KNOWLES: Thank you.

KING: OK. You may have heard about Susan Boyle, that singer in Scotland...


KING: ... on that program, and the amazing voice she had. Well, then a young boy came along, equally amazing. His name is Shaheen Jafargholi. And we interviewed him earlier.

KNOWLES: Oh, really?

KING: And he's a crazed fan of yours.

KNOWLES: Oh, great.

KING: So we asked him, what would he like to say to Beyonce?

So watch this.



I just can't believe that I'm going -- talking to you right now. You're seriously my idol. All I do all day is just sit there on the computer watching clips of you in concerts and your music videos. So I hope you like me too. I love you, Beyonce.


KNOWLES: Oh, how sweet.

KING: And that was his mother sitting with him.

KNOWLES: Oh my -- wow. He's so sweet. I can't wait to hear him sing. That is so nice.

KING: Oh, you didn't hear his bit he did? Well, we've only seen short clips of it. But he's an extraordinary young talent.

KNOWLES: Really? That's very exciting. What a nice -- what a nice spirit. KING: By the way, on your last tour, did you fall down?

KNOWLES: I did, yes.

KING: Where? What happened?

KNOWLES: Not only my last tour, I fall all the time.

But, you know, it was the year that YouTube got so hot, so unfortunately, now whenever I fall, it ends up on YouTube. And it ended up all on the news. And, you know, I have a scar on my leg that will be here forever. So it's something that reminds me that, you know, I do fall. And it's not about the fall, it's about how high you bounce right back up.

KING: Why do you fall? Do you do a lot of movement?

KNOWLES: Oh, yes. I do. I do. I do a lot of choreography and I'm always in very high heels. And I'm running up and down stairs and doing flips in harness, in -- you know, I'm very -- you know, I do a lot of things, very physical.

I'm a huge fan of Michael Jackson and Prince and people that are able to sing and dance at the same time. It's really difficult. I basically am -- you know, it's very athletic. It's like an athlete.

And every time I go on the stage, I kind of go into the zone, like it's a game, like -- you know, so it's like that adrenaline that takes over. So even when I fall, you know, as I said earlier, I'm not afraid of anything. I'm completely out of control and like in the zone.

So I'm not afraid that I'm going to fall down the stairs. But the reality is, sometimes I am going to fall.

KING: Yes.

KNOWLES: But I can't let that stop me from giving my all on the stage.

KING: OK. One other thing; you've accomplished so much, do you want to be a mother?

KNOWLES: I do. Yes, definitely. I have the best mother in the world. And my mother is literally my best friend. I respect her so much. And I admire her and I had a wonderful -- a great example. She was very hard-working. And I can trust her with anything.

So, of course, I want to be a mother. And I only pray that my relationship with my daughter is like the relationship I have with my mother.

But I do feel like I have so many things to accomplish, and I'm still young. I'm 27. And I feel like I've accomplished a lot of things, but I haven't seen the best of myself. And the world hasn't seen the best of me. So I -- when it's time and when it happens, when it is meant to be, it will. But I'm in no rush.

KING: Thanks so much for being with us. Best of luck with the movie. Best of luck on the tour.

KNOWLES: Thank you for having me.

KING: Beyonce, what an act.


KING: What a great pleasure to welcome Dolly Parton to LARRY KING LIVE. The entertainment legend, she has sold over 100 million records. She's the winner of seven Grammys, 11 CMAs, a Kennedy Center Honor and two Oscar, five Golden Globes and an Emmy nomination.

Her new show, "9 to 5 The Musical," is about to hit Broadway. She's in Washington on to New York. What are you doing in Washington?

DOLLY PARTON, ON OBAMA, JESSICA SIMPSON, TABLOIDS AND MORE: Well, I'm here all day doing press because I'm going to be the international ambassador for the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park this coming year, and so I'm out just talking about that, trying to get people to come down to the Smokies.

We've done a lot of wonderful work today, getting people aware of that, and just got lot of fun stuff going. I've actually done a CD. I've written a musical for the Dollywood opening about the people in the Smokies and how it was when they were being moved out of the mountains to build the park.

And so, anyhow, it's just a fun thing. We've got all the Cherokee Indians and everybody in East Tennessee involved in it.

KING: It's a great place, the Smokies. I've been there. Never had a better time than at the Smokies, and they couldn't choose a better ambassador than you. You're a businesswoman. Have you been hurt in these times?

PARTON: Well, I think everybody's a little scared right now. With Dollywood, our theme park, we were down some last year. We did a lot better than most, but of course, we're very concerned about it. and we've put a few little things on hold until see we what the economy is going to do.

But we still got our big plans, our big dreams. And we're trying to get people to come down, and certainly at the Smoky Mountains it's all free. So you can come and have a good time there. Then if you've got a little money left over, you can come see me at Dollywood and all of my places of business.

KING: You -- everyone knows how poor you were growing up. Life right now is kind of a "Hard Candy Christmas," your great record, for a lot of people. Do you have advice for people down on their luck? PARTON: Well, I know that people are very scared and I know it's hard to be poor. I have been poor, as you mentioned, so I know what it's like to be without it. And I know what it's like to have. And a lot of people who were poor to begin with, you know, they're having an even harder time.

So I'm just hoping that things work out good. I think we have to keep our faith and not be so scared and have to lean on our faith a little bit. And pray a little bit, and hope a little bit. And hopefully, things are going to be OK.

KING: One thing good in times like this, I guess, families spend more times together.

PARTON: Well, I think that's true because I think these kind of things do draw you together if nothing else, just out fear and concern. And we take so many things for granted. And when times like these happen, I think it does draw us closer to our family and to our faith, and kind of, you know, make us go inside a little more.

So it's natural, I think, for people to react and to be scared, and justly so. I mean if they don't know what's going on in Washington, D.C., well, you know, people like us, we really don't know what to think.

KING: What do you think of President Obama?

PARTON: Well, I'm very excited about the fact that we've got someone new in the White House. I think Obama's going to be a great president. And like I said today, at different times when they asked me, I think we all need to get behind him, pray for him, support him, and hope for the best. This is great country. We've been through hard times many times, and we've come out ahead.

So I'm hoping that things are good. and I really hope that he knows what he's doing. He seems to. And we all need to -- you know, to have faith in this whole new change that we're going through.

KING: Would you serve in Washington if asked?

PARTON: Me, no. I'm not a politician. And I don't want to be. I make jokes about it all the time. In fact, I think they're showing some clips I did today where I was talking about me not running for president because I asked me if I would. I told them I think we've had enough boobs in White House so...


And they don't need mine.


KING: Do you ever worry about being poor again?

PARTON: Well, I don't say that I don't sit around worry about it, but I give it some thoughts. I do remember how it was to be poor. I do remember that in my early years, we had to grow and raise all of our food, even our animals. And I remember in my early life, we didn't even have electricity. So it was very, very hard times then.

So I still remember how to do those things. If I had to go back, I think I would. I would hate to have to give up my nails to clawing the dirt, but I think I would know how to do it if I had to. I think I would have, you know, a little bit of a head's start over some people who's never grown up that way.

But Lord knows, you know, it's like, I don't want to have to do that again. But I've written many songs about that. That, in the good old day, when times were bad, like no amount of money could buy for me the memories that I had of then. But no amount of money can pay to go back and live through it again. I would only do it if I had to do, but I would if I have to.

KING: Quincy Jones wants the president to create a new cabinet level position, secretary of arts and the culture. What do you think of that?

PARTON: Well, that sounds like a good idea. I think -- I think, first, we better get our food on our table. Don't you?

KING: Yes, I guess. How many songs have you written?

PARTON: Well, you know, I don't count them, Larry. But I've been writing since I was a little bitty girl. I was probably 7 years old when I started playing the guitar and writing some serious songs. So, I know that I have at least 3,000 songs that I have written. I've got songs in boxes, drawers, stuff I carried from home when I left, that I still haven't gotten through. And I write something almost every day, least an idea down. But that's not to say they're all good, but that's what I do and it's what I love to do.

KING: Have you had to lay off people at Dollywood?

PARTON: Right now we're doing pretty good at Dollywood. We're going our best to not have to lose a bunch of people. And we're, like everybody else in business, we're shuffling around, trying to figure out exactly how to do it, putting some things on hold so we don't have to start, you know, running people off, and making them lose their jobs. So we're trying very hard to be considerate in all that because we're very proud of all of our people.

And as you know, it's not easy having that many people dependent on you.

KING: Yes.

PARTON: And you certainly don't want to, you know, have people lose their jobs.

KING: Dolly Parton has got a special blog you'll see only on our Web site. So go to and you'll read what Dolly has written exclusively for you.

Next, Dolly knows what it's like when your looks grab all the attention. Her advice for Jessica Simpson? We'll ask her after this.



KING: Welcome back. Dolly's been busy blogging for us. Check it out only our web site, One thing you can always count on, Dolly is never dull. We'll take a look at some great Dolly moments from over the years.


PARTON: I have a special surprise for you tonight.


PARTON: Oh I'm always ready.


PARTON: Sam is still confused. You don't whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.

I'm going to get that gun of mine and I'm going to change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and you ain't one of them.


PARTON: Now, we're that one to disappoint my little honey.


PARTON: You hold your horses.

(INAUDIBLE) things away. And besides I want to do it.

Sometimes you just got to honk your own honk because if you don't nobody's going to know you're coming.

Go get them, animals. Go get them.

I'm envisioning a one-legged man and a butt-kicking competition. Howdy, boys.


KING: Classic Dolly. Still to come, "9 to 5 The Musical". Hey, don't go anywhere or you'll miss it.




PARTON: Judge not lest you be judged. I always say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always say that.

PARTON: Well, when I'm trying to get (INAUDIBLE) out of trouble.



KING: We're back with Dolly Parton.

You are Jessica Simpson's idol. And Jessica's gotten a ton of attention about her figure lately, front cover of "People" magazine. What do you say to her?

PARTON: Well, I say people always treat her bad. They always talk bad about her. I just recorded a song with her a few months ago. And I've never had -- I've never been around a person any sweeter in my life. And she's great singer. And I've been fat and I've been skinny. And I'm not about to say something about anybody else's weight because I know how hard it is when you gain, you know, five or six pounds, and certainly 10 or 12.

I don't know how overweight she is. I have not seen her. But I know that Jessica is a good girl. She's beautiful to me. And I'm sure that she's going to get some weight off just because people won't leave her alone. She'll have to get skinny just to get people to shut the hell up.

KING: What do you say to people calling her fat?

PARTON: Well, I say that that is not a nice thing to say.

KING: On the heels of the weight controversy, though, things got worse for her, and I know you like her so much. She had a bad performance in Michigan, forgot lyrics, mumbled through songs, and fought back tears. That ever happened to you? You ever had a night where everything goes wrong?

PARTON: Yes. I think every entertainer's had nights when things go wrong. I mean you can't remember everything all the time, and especially if you're having hard times personally, things going on that you -- you know, and then people make it worse. And that makes you feel worse.

And like I said, I think she's very sensitive because she's been treated bad. I've been treated nicer in my career. But yes, I've made a mistake here and there. In fact, last week we did just a charity show. I sang with Kellie Pickler. And we couldn't hear the sound on stage and the band was in one -- they were playing in one tempo and Kellie and I were singing in another.

But we were singing with each other and we were singing to an echo in the house. So everybody was doing something different, and that came out and made it sound like we couldn't sing. And we didn't sound like we could that night, but we sounded good. We thought we were together, and then we though back, and we thought oh my lord, what happened? We didn't realize we'd got out of time with the band.

KING: At the Kennedy Center Honors when they honored you in 2007, Jessica sang a song and it was cut from the show. Do you know why?

PARTON: Yes, that song was "9 to 5." They had asked her to come sing because she was a fan of mine. She sang the song. She got nervous. She said she looked up in the balcony and saw me and then she got intimidated and she lost the words. But I should have my own butt kicked for writing so many words in the song. I told her that that song's even hard for me.

So she just got -- she just, you know, kind of lost track a little bit and couldn't get all of the words in. So she had asked to go back and sing it again after the show. And I have to tell you, several people went back and re-sang their songs. They didn't talk about that. They just talked about Jessica and how bad that was.

And, you know, it's not -- I don't know Jessica all that well, and I wouldn't say that we're friends or big buddies. I just go help her out when I can. She asked me to sing with her, and when they've asked me things, you know, I say it. But I just think it's cruel to just hammer somebody to death.

KING: She gets hit a lot with the paparazzi. Have you been -- had trouble with them?

PARTON: No. I've never had that much trouble with the paparazzi, but I don't run the same circles that a lot of these people that do get hounded by the paparazzi. If I go out, and certainly they take pictures, and after a while, if you're weary and tired, it gets on you their nerves a little bit. But they don't run after me like that. I don't think I'm all that popular in that way.

KING: You make the tabloids a lot, though?

PARTON: Yes, I do. They're always saying something about me. I always try to read them so I can see what I'm up to now.

KING: You -- some people don't read them. Some entertainers don't want to read them. You read them?

PARTON: I do, because I believe everything about everybody but me.


PARTON: I want to see who's doing what.

KING: You -- you're unusual in many respects. You're a great entertainer. And I mean, the Kennedy Center Honors don't happen to many. You also have a lot of gay fans. You've even dealt with gay rumors yourself. What is your appeal, do you think, to the gay community?

PARTON: Well, I think the gay people have always liked me because I have always been myself. I'm not intimidated by how people perceive me. I don't judge nor criticize people. I think that's another reason that they at least know that I'm sympathetic. I think all people have a right to be who they are. We're all God's children and God should be the one to judge, not other people.

So I have a lot of gay friends, lesbian friends. I work with a lot of people. I am not gat. I have been accused of that. But I have been happily married for 42 years to the same man. And he's not the least bit threatened, you know, by the fact that I may be gay. And he knows I have a lot of friends. But I love everybody. It doesn't matter to me.

KING: But your husband doesn't seek the limelight at all, does he?

PARTON: No, my husband would never in a million years dream of talking to you. But he'll watch you.


KING: What does he do for a living?

PARTON: Well, he used to be in asphalt paving for many, many years, he and his father. And he's retired now. He mostly just takes care of our farm, the things on the farm, and takes care of some of our business. He likes to do a little banking and all that sort of thing. But he really just does what he wants to. He doesn't have to do that much, but I like to work all the time.

KING: Is this the slimmest you've ever been?

PARTON: The slimmest?

KING: Slimmest.

PARTON: No. I -- actually a couple of years back, a year and a half, two years ago, I got smaller because I had a little bit of a problem. But I'm OK now, I just have a little bit of, you know, stomach ache here and there, now and then. I wasn't holding my food down as good as I should. But now I've got my weight in a good spot. I'm very tiny. I'm always 5 feet tall. And so 105, 110 is plenty of weight for me.

KING: You've had great plastic surgery, by the way.

PARTON: Well, thank you. You have, too, ain't you?

KING: No, I...


KING: Are you kidding?

PARTON: You haven't had plastic surgery?

KING: I'm too scared.

PARTON: Well, you know what, I'm the kind of person if I need something, I just go get it done. I always make jokes and say if I see something sagging, dragging and bagging, I'll get it nipped, tucked and sucked.

KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds with the wonderful Dollar Parton who never disappoints. Stick around.


KING: We're back with Dolly Parton who is the ambassador for the Great Smoky Mountains. They couldn't have picked a better one. She has a CD out called Sha-Kon-O-Hey! And its proceeds benefit the Great Smoky Mountains Park. It's available at or

Now can you sing a few bars of this?

PARTON: The Sha-Kon-O-Hey, actually, Sha-Kon-O-Hey is a Cherokee word and it means land of blue smoke, which is the Great Smoky Mountains. So it's about the Cherokee Indian there and Indians in the Smoky Mountains and it's this kind of like, (SINGING).

I forgot.


KING: It's OK. It's good enough to get me interested.

PARTON: Anyway, it's such a fun thing. But anyhow, it's -- there's a lot of songs, that's the only Indian one, but there's a lot of songs about the Great Smoky Mountains, "My Mountains, My Home," and "My Tennessee Mountain Home," similar songs to that, and "My Heart Lives in the Heart of the Smokies." So there's eight songs in the musical and in the CD and all the money, as we mentioned, goes to benefit the park.

KING: Yes. Everyone, by the way, loves "9:00 to 5:00," one of the classic comedies every made. Let's take a look at a bit of it.


PARTON: Look, I got a gun out there in my purse and up to now I've been forgiving and forgetting because of the way I was brought up. But I'll tell you one thing, if you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I'm going to get that gun of mine and I'm going to change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot. Don't think I can't do it.


KING: Why did you -- why did you never follow up that movie with "9:00 to 5:00 II"? PARTON: I wondered about that myself. We talked about doing a sequel right after than. You know, we did that in the '80s. And now after all this time, they're doing the musical, which I've been fortunate enough to have gotten to write all the music for, the words and the music.

And it's to open on the 30th of April on Broadway. So we're going into rehearsals on the 7th of April. And - then hopefully everything's going to...

KING: This...

PARTON: ... work out good.

KING: Nervous time to open on Broadway, Dolly, with the economy.

PARTON: But it is. I think there's a lot of concern about it. I know a lot of the people that I'm working with are concerned because a lot of shows have closed on Broadway. Some of them were leaving anyway. But it is a tricky time, but what are you going to do? You've got to keep on. We're going to go right -- you know, we're going to go on with it as far as I know, unless something changes that I'm not aware of. But...

KING: Has the whole -- has the whole original cast seen the musical?

PARTON: Yes, Jane and Lilly and Dabney all came to Los Angeles, at the Omnison. When we did the workshop out there, we were out there for about six weeks. They came to the opening night there and it was wonderful to see all the new people and then Dabney, Lilly, Jane and I were sitting out in the audience, watching everybody. They've got a big kick out of it.

The musical, I think, is going to be good. I have a new single out called "Backwoods Barbie," which is one of the songs that's in the musical. And I have a video coming out on that, too, and that's going to be released in March to -- you know, just right after the show opens.

KING: Is the musical the story line of the film?

PARTON: Well, I actually tried to write -- actually the show is basically what it was in the movie. We just added some great music that -- well, I like to think it's great, I mean we added music, and that was a great element to the story. And so it -- the characters are true to what they were in the movie and the people that we have, we have a wonderful, wonderful cast. And I'm just very proud to be part of it. And I would really hate for it not to get its just due, so let's hope for the best.

KING: Last season you mentored the contestants on "American Idol." What do you think about that show?

PARTON: Well, I think it's a great show. People love that show. I can't believe the viewers that they have. I was very honored to get to be part of "American Idol." And they were all very nice to me and so I've had a lot of comments that I was on the show and maybe I'll get a chance to do it again.

KING: Are the judges too hard on the contestants?

PARTON: Well, that's what they do. They're there to judge. They've asked me at different times, different places, different shows to judge people and their talent. It's just hard for me to do because I know how sincere they all are. I know that the ones that are great don't work any harder than the ones that are not so great. And I know the ones that are not so great are just as sincere, so it just breaks my heart to tell somebody they suck.

KING: Among the many, many things Dolly does, she also writes books. She has a new children's book available in June. It's called "I Am a Rainbow."

What's the story?

PARTON: Yes. Well, actually, this is catered to little children. We have the Imagination Library, you know, where I give a book a month to every child from the time it's born until it starts kindergarten through my Imagination Library at the Dollywood -- through the Dollywood Foundation at Dollywood.

So this little book is called "I Am a Rainbow" and it is about all the different moods of children. And it's very simple and very sweet and kind of done in rhyme and it's just talking about, you know, the colors and the moods of children.

KING: Dolly, you are ageless. You are a delight. You are an amazing, amazing performer. And I thank you for being with us.

PARTON: Well, always appreciate getting to talk to you. You've always treated me nice. And thank you for letting me come on and tell everybody that I'm the ambassador for the 75th anniversary.

KING: That you are.

PARTON: Come on down to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood, and get my record, and do all that. I'm a walking commercial.


KING: Thanks, Dolly.