Holiday season brings two TV specials from Reba McEntire
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- She may have missed out on
playing the Unsinkable Molly Brown in "Titanic," but the
unsinkable Reba McEntire keeps sailing along with
million-selling albums, sold-out concerts and the
The acting part of the Oklahoma native's career appears
to have come naturally.
"I had never done any acting before, other than music
videos," says the red-haired country singer. "The only time
I've ever had any coaching was right before my audition for
`Titanic.' I got the part."
So why wasn't she in the blockbuster movie? You might
call it country values.
"I had to remember what I've been taught all my life:
When you say yes to a commitment, you stick with it," said
"They kept moving the (shooting) schedule, and well, I
can't keep changing my concert dates. Because once I let a
billing go, basketball, ice hockey and every other artist
in town try to get that same venue. I have too many people
on the payroll to keep juggling the schedule, so I had to
pass on `Titanic.' "
Probably just as well. With director James Cameron's
knack for going over schedule the way he goes over budget,
McEntire could have lost millions. Kathy Bates took on the
Unsinkable Molly Brown role, most of which ended up on the
cutting room floor anyway.
McEntire's jumping ship didn't seem to scuttle her
career much; it's been full speed ahead ever since.
"We're on our second movie this year," she said. "We've
done two albums. We have just launched a new show, which is
a musical called `The Singer's Diary,' first I've ever
She talked about the autobiographical concert project in
her suite at a boutique hotel just off the Sunset Strip.
"It's my life story starting in 1974 when I was singing
the National Anthem at National Rodeo finals in Oklahoma
City, got discovered, went to Nashville, and up to the
present. The first act is a play, the second is a
full-blown concert," she said.
Unlike the cavernous arenas where she often appears, "A
Singer's Diary" is presented in theaters with 4,000 seats or
less. The tour started Sept. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
McEntire fans will have their fill during Thanksgiving
week. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., cable channel A&E, channel 28,
presents "A&E's Live by Request Starring Reba McEntire" on
which viewers will be able to phone or e-mail their
requests for songs.
Then on Thanksgiving night at 8 p.m., will show the TV
movie "Secret of Giving," starring the country singer. She
has recorded new songs for the show, and they'll be
included in a Christmas album titled -- you guessed it --
"Secret of Giving."
The movie casts her as a young widow in the early 1900s
trying to save the family ranch while she cares for her
seriously ill 5-year-old son. A lone rider (Thomas Ian
Griffith) comes along to help her, but the town banker
(Ronny Cox) threatens to foreclose on the mortgage. Given
the season, a happy ending is probable.
Her first movie role was in "Tremors," the 1989
horror-comedy about giant earthworms that went on to gain a
cult following. "I was doing the movie weekdays, touring on
the weekends. The next weekend I was playing Tahoe. I drove
with my mama to Lake Tahoe, did a Friday night show, got
married on Saturday afternoon, did a Saturday night show,
did a reception for the wedding, did another show. Then
back to the movie; we didn't have a honeymoon for three
Her husband and producer is Narvel Blackstock, with whom
she had worked for 10 years before their marriage. They
have a 9-year-old son, Shelby.
McEntire has appeared in such features as Rob Reiner's
"North," and the TV movies "Buffalo Girls" (Anjelica Huston)
and "The Man From Left Field" (Burt Reynolds). During her
visit here, she was playing Paul Reiser's psychiatrist in a
comedy feature, "Night at McCool's."
Whether it's natural ability or singing all those
from-the-heart country songs, McEntire seems to have
adapted well to the rigors of acting.
"In a way it's fun; in a way it's very frustrating," she
remarked. "It's hard, but it's exhilarating, because there's
not a day that's like the other days. You have to cram to
learn your lines, and I'm not very good at that . . .
"If it doesn't rhyme or it's not in melody, I have
trouble. So I do word association. It's a real weird way of
doing it, but it works for me."