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Squarespace has had success in booking celebrities for their buzzy Super Bowl commercials in recent years. (Keanu Reeves, John Malkovich and Jeff Bridges, to name a few.) But when the website building company came up with the idea to do a modern-day take on Dolly Parton’s classic “9 to 5” workplace anthem, booking the country music icon felt like a long shot.
“How do we approach someone as legendary as Dolly Parton and ask her if it’s ok to rewrite and reimagine one of her most iconic songs?” recalls David Lee, Squarespace’s chief creative officer, over e-mail to The Hollywood Reporter. “Turns out that not only did she love the idea, she also loved the rewrite.”
The result is “5 to 9,” a new spin on the theme song from the 1980 classic comedy of the same name — which starred Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton, and earned Parton an Oscar nomination — and celebrates the next generation of hustlers. The shifting hours reflect the time period when today’s entrepreneurs, dreamers and hustlers, who have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, work on their side gigs (between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m.).
When the ad makes its debut during Super Bowl LV, viewers will hear Parton’s new rendition. “After a single conversation with her manager, she almost immediately went into the studio to record the ‘5 to 9’ track,” says Lee of the reimagined lyrics. “Dolly herself has been hustling her entire life and could really relate to the message we were trying to tell.”
Aiming to maintain the uplifting and unifying sentiment of “9 to 5,” Lee says they wanted to keep the music as close as possible to the original — which Parton wrote 41 years ago. They also wanted the vibe to be big and theatrical, so they turned to La La Land helmer Damien Chazelle to direct the spot. With the Oscar winner on board, Lee says a world of talent opened up: Tony Award-winner Justin Peck oversaw the choreography for the ad, which features Broadway and off-Broadway dancers including star Tanairi Vazquez. Behind-the-scenes talent includes Rodrigo Prieto, as DP; Kristen Vallow, set design; Tom Cross, who edits all of Chazelle’s films; and Natasha Leonnet, who graded La La Land.
“We like to put creative work out there that’s unexpected, and the individuals we feature always lend their own unique spin and signature to the work,” says Lee of the brand’s Hollywood collaborations, noting that the company is opening a new office in nearby Playa Vista. The remote production involved “meticulous” preparation in order to deliver a COVID-safe shoot, including daily testing for everyone involved. “We’re happy to say that we had zero positive cases throughout the entire production,” he adds.
And while Parton doesn’t appear in the spot, her likeness does make an animated cameo on a magazine cover. “The music is the main character and the star of the commercial,” says Lee, who adds that Chazelle shared their overall vision and passion. “We all agreed that the idea would be stronger with her words and music guiding the narrative — she’s passing the torch to the next generation.”
Watch Squarespace’s 60-second “5 to 9” ad, below.
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