My Summer With Dolly Parton

Loren Kantor
20 min readSep 19, 2022
The Dolly Show was an attempt to revive television variety shows.

In 1987 I was going through a painful breakup. Combined with my wicked weed addiction and a propensity for depression, I was having a tough summer. My friend Julien, a television producer, threw me a lifeline. He was working on a new show called Dolly starring Dolly Parton. He offered me a production assistant gig. I leaped at the opportunity. The long hours would be a welcome distraction from the breakup blues. He gave me the address of a home in the Hollywood Hills and instructed me to arrive at 1:00 pm the following day.

“Make sure to bring your video equipment,” he said.

“Whose house,” I asked.



“Keep the address to yourself.”

I should have been nervous since Dolly was one of the biggest stars on the planet. But she wasn’t on my radar. I’d always dismissed her as a big-busted country act with ridiculous wigs and tacky gowns. My only exposure to her was the movie 9 to 5 directed by the guy who wrote Harold and Maude, one of my favorite films.

I went for a haircut and swore off the weed. The next day I drove my Toyota Corolla into the Hollywood Hills past the massive tennis courts and swimming pools. I turned onto Thrasher Avenue and parked in front of a peach-colored home at the end of a cul-de-sac. I gathered my video equipment and announced myself at the security intercom. The gate opened and I walked through a courtyard surrounded by palm trees and banana plants.

A tall man with perfect hair and coiffed eyebrows greeted me at the door. He wore an elegant Italian suit with a gold Jewish Chai necklace, his chest hair spilling over a perfectly ironed pink shirt. I didn’t know it at the time but the man was Sandy Gallin, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. He was Dolly’s manager and the show’s executive producer. He perused me up and down then uttered a condescending “Oh.”

I followed him through the foyer into a large living room with polished wood floors and high ceilings. The couches, chairs and tables were moved aside and a boom box sat in the corner. Gallin instructed me to position my camera near the piano over a spot designated by gaffer tape.

Loren Kantor

Loren is a writer and woodcut artist based in Los Angeles. He teaches printmaking and creative writing to kids and adults.