Lifetime’s ‘Patsy and Loretta’ is a country music buddy movie

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No, you’re not crazy: Country music legend Patsy Cline is making music again, thanks to her daughter Julie Fudge.

“Patsy & Loretta” premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. on Lifetime. The musical biopic dramatizes the friendship between singers Patsy Cline (Megan Hilty, of Broadway’s “Wicked” and NBC’s “Smash”) and Loretta Lynn (Tony-winner Jessie Mueller, of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”).

“Patsy Lynn Russell, Loretta’s daughter, and myself are co-producing,” says Fudge, 61, who still lives in Nashville, Tennessee, presiding over the Patsy Cline fan club. “We both worked with [screenwriter Angelina Burnett] on the script and gave a lot of input that only somebody in one of these camps could.”

But how much input could Fudge give, since she was only 4 when her mother died in a plane crash in 1963 at 30?

“Most of my knowledge has come from conversations, family stories, family photos, family documents, listening to my dad — that sort of thing,” she says. “What I do remember has pleasantly been supported by photos and stories and other people. All of those things are like wonderful little puzzle pieces.”

Cline, known for such hits as “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight” — all sung by Hilty in the film — was a trailblazer, one of the first country artists to cross over into pop music. Her “Greatest Hits” album sold more than 10 million copies, and she was also the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller put their musical chops to the test as "Patsy and Loretta."
Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller put their musical chops to the test as “Patsy and Loretta.”Jake Giles Netter

Filmed on location in Nashville, “Patsy & Loretta,” which is directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Callie Khouri (“Thelma and Louise”) covers part of Cline’s life at the height of her fame in the early 1960s.

Khouri chronicle’s Cline’s friendship with Lynn through bumps in their marriages and careers, as well as Cline’s 1961 car accident and recovery, up through her death.

“We talked a little bit about how she was, but it’s more fun to talk to Megan about the everyday stuff,” says Fudge. “The little stories about how my dad didn’t recognize her the first time she had on her blond wig, or the story of the fact that she was in a car wreck and spent a month in the hospital and it [cost] $1,100.”

The movie is not exact in some of its depictions, such as Patsy’s home, but Fudge says it captures the spirit.

“They did a beautiful job with the costuming. We have the Patsy Cline Museum in Nashville, and so they could come and see the actual costumes and furnishings of her home. The home we filmed in didn’t reflect her exactly — but it’s all of that era.”

Fudge’s biggest concern was not watering anything down. The friendship between the singers is close but not saccharine, and they have the occasional argument.

“I feel responsible to keep it honest, that’s the most important part,” says Fudge. “I hope fans feel more of a sense of Patsy as a person, not just an icon or a caricature that so many times people become over this many years.”

“Patsy & Loretta” emphasizes the fact that the two women were not rivals but rather complemented each other, Fudge says.

“They both had the same kind of background and the same kind of life: They were raising kids and having a family, and this was their work,” says Fudge. “And they loved their work. Loretta kept Mom in the real world, and Mom kind of pulled Loretta into the business. This isn’t a movie about competition.”

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