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‘Still Working 9 to 5’ Goes Deep Into Classic 1980 Comedy, And How It Speaks To Today — SXSW

'Still Working 9 to 5' poster detail

What would 9 to 5 be like without Lily Tomlin as office manager Violet Newstead? Or Dabney Coleman as sexually harassing boss Franklin Hart Jr.? It almost happened.

Tomlin nearly bailed on the classic comedy, and Coleman struggled to land his part – those and other revelations emerge in the documentary Still Working 9 to 5. The stories come straight from the sources –Tomlin, Coleman, and co-leads Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton all appear in the new film, which just premiered at SXSW.

“Fans are really going to see this behind the scenes,” said filmmaker Gary Lane as he stopped by Deadline’s SXSW Studio with fellow director-producer Camille Hardman and EP Larry Lane (Gary’s twin brother). “We’re fans of 9 to 5. I’ve never heard these stories before, like Lily wanting to quit the picture before it even started, things like that. I think the fans are going to really enjoy it.”

Larry added, “Lily was actually a secretary [in real life], so a lot of stuff that happened in the movie had actually happened to her. So we were learning things along the way.”

Still Working 9 to 5 does much more than recount stories from the set. It also examines the history of women in the American work force – which speaks to why the 1980 comedy was created in the first place.

“We wanted to document the life of 9 to 5 and then reaching out to Camille, she really researched and found out there was a 9 to 5 organization” that inspired the original film, Gary said. “Jane [Fonda] really spearheaded the movie because of the issues. So when Camille came on board [as fellow director-producer], we kind of say ‘the fandom met the feminism,’ and it’s turned into the movie that we’ve got today.”

The documentary delves into the Equal Rights Amendment, which was intended to codify the equal status of women under the Constitution, but never won passage. Hardman underscored pressing workplace issues that are still being debated today.

“I think there’s still a lot of things that we do have to change,” Hardman said. “There’s maternity leave, which I think should be actually family leave because it needs to be equal between men and women. A lack of promotions — I think there still needs to be a huge amount of promotions for women to reach equality and equal pay. And, also, we all know about sexual harassment. And that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do this film because it was right after #MeToo, and I knew that it was a poignant mixing of it and using 9 to 5 as a vehicle to tell that story of women in the workplace.”

Still Working 9 to 5 is an acquisition title. The documentary includes a new version of the classic title song 9 to 5, recorded by Dolly Parton as a duet with Kelly Clarkson. Watch the Lane Brothers and Hardman discuss that and more in the video above.

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