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Moviemakers always look for "chemistry" between the male and female lead in a film. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda had it in "Electric Horseman," Robert Redford and Debra Winger didn't in "Legal Eagles."

But when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton appeared together in Salt Lake City a few years ago, the relationship went beyond chemistry. It was - for good or ill - as if the two had been married for years.They not only anticipated each other's moves and understood each other's strengths and weaknesses, but at times Rogers grew patronizing and sexist while Parton returned the favor by manipulating the scene with sex appeal.

When the two return to the Salt Palace at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, we'll see how the "matrimony" has fared.

Right now the duo is riding high on "Love Is Strange," a cover version of the old Mickey and Sylvia classic. They're also pumping fresh life into "Islands in the Stream," their famous driving duet from 1983.

And if reports from other towns are any indication, crowds are turning out in flocks to hear them go at it musically, as well as verbally.

Rogers, of course, is the crown prince of crossover country. Word has it his portrait sells more velvet paintings than Elvis these days. Husky, rowdy, full of boyish charm and a voice that sounds like honey running over crushed glass, Rogers has amassed (and that's the word) 44 albums and turned rather mediocre beer-guzzling tunes such as "Lucille," "Scarlet Fever" and "Blaze of Glory" into standards.

He's probably at his best, however, as a saloon singer. He croons as well as Tony Bennett. The proof is in such singles as "Through the Years," "Love the World Away" and "She Believes in Me."

As for Parton, her cartoonish figure and "trashy" sense of style has tended to cloud her incredible talents as both a vocalist and songwriter.

Parton's career has also reached far beyond the Top 40. Her performances in films such as "9 to 5" and "Steel Magnolias" show her to be extremely versatile, and her chairmanship of medical and education charities show another dimension.

The best Dolly Parton song ever? Some say the singles "Daddy" and "Jolene" top the list, but her solos in the movie "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" - "Hard Candy Christmas" and "I Will Always Love You" - are likely the strongest cuts she's made.

"The show has sold very well here already," says Don Hilton of KSOP Radio. "It's been a long time since Kenny has been to Salt Lake City, so people are anxious to see him again. As for Dolly, she's always popular."

Dolly's local popularity got a shot in the arm this week when Gov. Bangerter declared Aug. 29 "Dolly Parton Day" in Utah. Her local fan club will stage a party and celebration from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the downtown Marriot Hotel the day of the show.

The concert will be in the round.

Tickets for the inner "golden circle" are $22.50. All others run $18.50.

For more information call KSOP at 972-1043.