This month, we're looking at a couple of Dolly Parton projects, a French film about the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, and the latest offering from the faith-friendly Kingdom Story Company at Lionsgate.
Dolly Parton's Novel and Life Inspire New Projects
Back in Nov. 2020, as the pandemic definitely threw a shadow on Christmas, Dolly Parton hit Netflix with Christmas on the Square, a sparkly Yuletide musical in which she played an angel (and in which a pastor was a character, and a Bible was actually seen).
The beloved superstar is now set to produce and star in a feature-film adaptation of Run, Rose, Run, a novel she co-wrote with famed novelist James Patterson, to be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company.
The best-selling book, published March 7, focuses on a young woman who heads to Nashville to pursue her dreams, only to have her dark past follow her.
Said Witherspoon, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter:
“My admiration for [Dolly Parton] grew to even greater heights when reading Run, Rose, Run, a gripping and heartbreaking book I couldn’t put down. I couldn’t feel more honored to be working alongside her and James to bring this remarkable story to the screen.”
In other Parton news, she's thinking about a big-screen musical biopic of her life.
During a Feb. 23 interview on the radio show “Mr. Nashville Speaks,” Parton said she was in talks about potentially adapting her life story into a musical biopic.
“I do intend someday to be on Broadway, but I’m thinking now that I might do my life story as a feature,” she told the show’s host Larry Ferguson. “Maybe possibly even a musical feature, so we’re in talks about that.”
According to Parton, the pandemic upset talks that were already underway, and she changed focus from Broadway to the movies.
As to who would play her, in the same interview, quoted further in a CNN story, Parton said:
New Film on the 2019 Notre-Dame Fire Hits French Theaters
On March 16, the docudrama Notre-Dame on Fire, or, in French, Notre-Dame brûle, premiered in French theaters, recalling the horrific April 2019 fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.
Directed by legendary French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gates, Seven Years in Tibet, The Name of the Rose, Quest for Fire), it blends dramatic recreations of the battle to save the medieval cathedral, with actual footage from that night, including footage solicited from the public via the film's website.
And having seen the fire first-hand, and reporting on it to our readers, I found the film to be an emotional roller-coaster that left me feeling an enormous sense of awe for the cathedral, the incredible firefighters, and the Catholic faith.
Annaud explained that the story was as true to life as it could possibly be, with meticulous research and interviews with those involved, and footage from the fire itself. All of this was mixed in with some very clever special effects, news reports, and additional filming from other cathedrals in France.
He then got the script’s seal of approval from Général Gontier, the commander of the Paris Fire Brigade, who was second-in-command during the extinction of the fire.
No word yet when the film -- created for IMAX, with Dolby Atmos sound -- will be available in the United States. But, the IMDB lists Amazon Prime Video as one of the production partners, so it will likely end up there eventually.
Hilary Swank and 'Reacher' Star Lead New Film 'Ordinary Angels'
Swank and Alan Ritchson, breakout star of Amazon Prime Video's Reacher, will topline Ordinary Angels, the new project from Kingdom Story Company (American Underdog, The Jesus Music, I Can Only Imagine), as part of its distribution deal with studio Lionsgate.
Set against the backdrop of the worst snowstorm in Kentucky history, pic is inspired by the incredible true story of a struggling hairdresser (Swank) who single-handedly rallies an entire community to help a widowed father (Ritchson) save the life of his critically ill young daughter.
Jon Gunn (The Unbreakable Boy) is directing, having written the most recent draft of the script with Jon Erwin. Meg Tilly and Kelly Fremon Craig penned an earlier draft.
Image: Carl Beust for Shutterstock.
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.