PART 2 OF EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DONNY AND MARIE OSMOND: If you don’t feel excited or nostalgic when you hear the name Donny Osmond then you’re probably under 5. Donny has been a force in the entertainment industry since he was under 5. For the past 50 years, the cute little precocious boy (who sang with the Osmond Brothers and became half of the Donny & Marie phenomenon), teenage idol (and they call it ‘Puppy Love’) and grown up “Dancing With the Stars” champion (and musician, actor, singer & game show host), has been entertaining the masses all over the world.
It was so hard to talk with the All-American, boy-next-door entertainer without getting a lump in my throat and a few goose bumps. (Puppy love never totally goes away.) Why, oh why, does Donny Osmond make grown women gush like school girls?
OK, enough! Earth to Pat.
Donny called me from his home in Utah the day after I spoke with his talented, adorable sister Marie (to chat about their brand new album amongst other things). Just to put things in perspective, the “little bit rock ‘n roll” masculine half of the brother/sister act is a true gentleman. His devotion to his wife (of 33 years) and five sons is a breath of fresh air. (I’m so tired of the bad-boy image that way too many Hollywood stars get away with … so unnecessary.) And, despite all the fun-spirited digs that he dishes out to his sister on stage, he would lay down his life for her. He’s a dedicated and loyal brother.
The former purple-sock aficionado was happy, after 30 years, to do a country/pop album with Marie that they both agree has been worth the wait. The wonderful perk of interviewing Donny and Marie is they both love to talk (a journalist’s dream). We posted our interview with Marie last week thinking it would be nice to give each their own space. Now, it’s Donny’s turn. Enjoy!
Nash: “Donnie & Marie” is a great album! I’m going to ask you the same question I asked Marie: Why did you and Marie wait 30 years to record together again?
Donny: Well, she wanted top billing, and I wouldn’t give it to her. (Laughs) Our attorneys couldn’t come to an agreement.
Nash: Somebody turned the corner, was it you or her?
Donny: I still have top billing so she acquiesced.
Nash: I’ve listened to this album, have some favorites: “The Good Life” is great. Is that song going out to country or Top 40 stations?
Donny: It’s going to be a country release.
Nash: Are you happy with all the songs on this record?
Donny: I absolutely love it. We took a long time to decide on each one. It was a long process because you can slap an album together which we could have done. In a way it’s a novelty that Donny & Marie are recording together again after 30 years. I’ve seen a lot of artists in my time, and they take advantage of a publicity stunt like a trend or fad or whatever it might be, and they get the material out there as quickly as they can so they can sell a few records and make a few dollars. The problem is that you really shoot yourself in the foot. Unless you really focus on the material, you’re going to come out with a schlocky album. And that’s why we took a long time. It was very difficult to do this album the same time we’re doing Las Vegas because five nights a week, you’ve got to be able to focus on a record. I have a little experience on this. This is my 59th album in my career. I’m working on my 60th right now. So I’ve had some experience of putting albums together and I’ve put some schlocky ones together back when I was a teenager, and they may be fun for a moment but they’re not long-lasting. We wanted this one to last a long, long time.
Nash: One of the lyrics in “The Good Life” is: “If you’ve got love, you’re living the good life.”
Donny: Well that is something that is so true. The lyrics are very optimistic. That’s the image of Donny and Marie – even though we’ve both had some very difficult times, Marie mostly because of her life situations, but we’ve been through it all. Even on Oprah, I think it was yesterday, people were saying it’s not wealth that brings happiness. It’s living the good life and serving others. It doesn’t take money – you and I both know, because you’ve been doing these celebrity interviews 25 years now – there are a lot of sad, rich celebrities out there. They got the money, they got the fame, but they don’t have the happiness.
Nash: You and Marie have been honest about your bumpy roads. Do you feel like people can relate to your ups and downs and how you two have dealt with life’s challenges?
Donny: Yes, Marie and I have been through life’s experiences [and have come out the other side]. It’s not like we’re some little whipper-snappers coming along singing about the good life and all that kind of stuff. We’ve been through it. Even financially, we lost everything back in the early ‘80s and almost had to take out bankruptcy and had to rebuild. So it takes those life experiences to give you a great foundation but also the ability to speak out and say things with some authority because you’ve been there.
Here’s another thing we’re both grateful for and that is to still be in this business. Even a three- to-five-year career is a pretty substantial accomplishment. But if you can weather the storm, just keep going … we’ve been pretty blessed. Yeah, it’s been up and down, it’s been pretty rocky for both of us, but we’ve been able to weather the storm.
Nash: When I think of Donny & Marie – you’ve got the greatest fans in the world. You two truly bring happiness to people. Do you feel that you are serving people in a kind of positive way?
Donny: I don’t think that’s our MO to serve people. Like, for instance, I feel almost nightly when we do our show. Every single show, you walk out there, you’ll have somebody who’s just sitting out there with their arms folded, and have that look: ‘OK, now entertain me!’ That’s what the entertainment business is all about. It’s so satisfying by the end of the show they’re on their feet, they’re clapping, they’re smiling, they’re having a great time. That’s what Marie and I like to do. When we decided to do this Vegas show, we said – here again, the same philosophy of putting an album together – we could just throw a bunch of songs together and rest on our laurels, on our old hit records, but that’s not what we do. Even since the beginning of the “Donny & Marie Show” it was always how do we take it one step further? How do we make it entertaining? And that’s variety, you know? Even with the album, it’s something we try to do. I hate to use this phrase: It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll. It really is true.
Nash: How did Marie get you to come around to record country?
Donny: Well, you know, I’ve always been a little bit country. That’s been what we do. There are a couple of songs in there like “Better Off Blue.” I’m definitely a country singer that’s for sure. (Laughs) Even in our Vegas show Marie does the Rock and we just go all over the place with it.
Nash: Country music is kind of morphing into a little bit of pop. Every country artist out there is not necessarily the traditional country artist. You can call a lot of songs country but they really cross over to the pop genre too, don’t you think?
Donny: I definitely do.
Nash: When you and Marie are finished with your Vegas run, what’s on your bucket list to do after you stop doing that show?
Donny: I’m not waiting till the show is finished. This summer I’m doing a one-man show. I’ve got three musicians with me. It’s very scaled down type of show, just me and my music. It’s a very different kind of show, one that I’ve never done before in my life. It’s going to be a very intimate evening with Donny Osmond and his music.
Nash: Where is that going to be?
Donny: It’s going to be across the country. We’re only doing five or six dates but we may add a few more. That’s the only time I’ve got because of our schedule in Vegas.
Nash: Fans have gushed over you since you first started in show business. How hard is it on your wife when women make over you?
Donny: I’ve got a jewel because she is a very patient woman, but she knows how much I’m committed to her. I could take advantage of that kind of wonderful woman but I don’t. I’m very dedicated to her. I’m a one-woman man. She’s mine forever.
Nash: How do you keep romance in your marriage after 33 years?
Donny: A lot of romantic kissing. (Laughs) It’s the little things. Women love to be loved and caressed. It’s the simple little things that make a woman happy. You don’t have to buy them the world, but if you put forth a little effort and concern and a little thought behind the gifts and notes and surprises that you give them, that’s the most important thing. As long as they know that you care about them and love them unconditionally … she’s my life. Everything I do, every decision I make, the first thing I say to myself is how does it affect her? And then how does it affect me?
Nash: I have to ask you about “Dancing With the Stars.” You won season nine, and it seemed to some people from the get go that you were destined to win. When did you know you were going to win it?
Donny: Not until I got it. I was worried right up until the very end because you never know. You know the show. People you think are great just don’t make it because either the judges go against you or they don’t get the amount of votes on the phones. You never know until you actually win it. I keep reliving that moment ever since I got it 18 months or so ago.
Nash: Is it really a family atmosphere on the show?
Donny: Absolutely. It is a family back there. What’s interesting, when you’re on the dance floor, you’re arch rivals. (Laughs) I mean you’re out there to win it, especially when you get like four weeks away from the finals. It’s down to “I love you, but! – It’s me or you.” (Laughs) I remember that winning moment. It was down to Mya and myself. The first thing I did before I accepted that trophy was I went over and gave Mya a big hug because you become family. You become friends. But I remember before I did anything else, I went over and grabbed my wife, picked her up and brought her on the floor because I’ve got to tell you something, it was hard on her. To watch your husband dance romantically with Kym Johnson. That’s tough. But the thing is, it’s anything but romantic in the rehearsal hall. You’re sweating, you’re dying, but then when you get the lights, the costumes and the music and everything, it’s a whole different thing.
Nash: So did your wife Debra say, ‘Wow, you’re dancing a little too close?” Was she OK with that?
Donny: What do you think? (Big laugh)
Nash: I’m obsessed with DWTS. I’ve watched every season. Bruno makes me laugh out loud. Len, sometimes he makes me mad with his comments because I disagree with him, and Carrie Ann seems to get overzealous with the lifting the foot thing. What’s your take on the judges?
Donny: Have you noticed this season [Carrie Ann] hasn’t really been talking about the feet? She’s kind of had to tone that down because I think she’s been getting some comments from the public at large. They are the judges. They are there for a reason. They’re not stage props. It’s so subjective when you get right down to judging. But they’re pros. They know what they’re talking about. I love Carrie Ann. After it was over – because you cannot associate with the judges at all during the season – she gave me a big hug, said you did such a great job. Len always had a little bit of a problem with me. He has a problem with everybody, but he was very critical – he was very complimentary at times, but extremely critical. I never got a 10 from him I don’t think. And Bruno, well, I kissed him. (Laughs) Not many people do this, and neither did I during the season, not until the very end cause he didn’t want to disclose it so everybody didn’t think there was some bias towards me, but he reminded me, he showed me a picture. He was my choreographer back in the ‘80s. He choreographed a video that I did, and I totally forgot about it. It was a song called ‘If It’s Love That You Want,’ and he showed me the picture, and it all dawned on me because I thought I recognized him but I thought: Oh I just know him from “Dancing With the Stars.”
Nash: Who are your top three picks this season on DWTS?
Donny: I said right from the beginning watch out for Chelsea Kane. She’s in a perfect place right now. I think Kirstie Alley is going to be in the finals based on the fact that she’s got a great following. She the Kate Gosselin or Bristol Palin of this season. I mean she’s losing weight, she’s losing shoes, it’s unbelievable. (Laughs) I think you’ve got to watch out for Chelsea Kane, and I’ll tell you, Ralph Macchio! I love him but he’s got to be careful. His arms are flailing all over the place. He’s got to really watch his style, but he’s in a good position because he’s [become] an underdog.
Final three? Too early to tell right now but if you wanted me to throw a dart at it, I’d say you’ve got Chelsea, Kirstie and Ralph.
Nash: Would you ever do a reality show with your family or with Marie?
Donny: They’d have to pay me a lot of money to do that. (Laughs) I don’t think I ever would because my home is my solace, and I don’t want to open the doors to my home to the press or to the world because it’s the one thing that’s sacred to me and my relationship with my boys, my relationship with my wife belongs to us and nobody else so I’d have to say no.
Nash: Do you ever watch reality shows?
Donny: No, not really to be honest with you but hey, DWTS is a reality show, it’s variety, reality.
Nash: Tell me about some of the superstars you worked with like Frank, Sammy, Dean, Elvis.
Donny: You know, time makes them legends. When you were working with them at the time, they were just your peers. I remember – this is kind of cool – I worked with Grocho Marx. I do remember when I met Elvis Presley. He walked into my dressing room in Vegas because he came to see our show. He really talked like this too (Donny does his best Elvis impression):
“Hi, I’m Elvis. “ He invited us to come over to his house to have a barbeque. We never did. We never took him up on the offer. He was a real humble guy. He really affected me a lot. I was star struck with him. Stevie Wonder I was totally star struck because I loved his music from the beginning. I thought it was cool when I met him for the first time at the Grammys. He was tapped on the shoulder by his guards and was told Donny Osmond wants to meet you. He turned around, and he reached his hand out and said, ‘Donny Osmond.’ He started singing one of my songs: “Go Away Little Girl.” He says: “I know you.” (Donny began singing Stevie Wonder’s impression of his song: “Go Away Little Girl”). I thought: here’s my idol singing my song to me. I said, “OK, there’s a moment that’s going in the journal.”
Nash: Can I ask you 10 rapid fire questions?
Donny: It used to be purple, now it’s blue.
Donny: Chocolate chip ice cream.
Where do you go when you want to be alone?
Donny: My shower. I built this re-circulating shower. I designed it and invented it myself. I can go in there and have a shower 24/7 if I want to. That’s where I think. I have speakers in there. I’ve got this bench I can lie down on and listen to music. I sing in the shower. That’s where I go when I want to get away from the world.
What’s under your bed?
What are you afraid of?
Donny: Snakes, spiders and Marie, in that order.
Last time you had to apologize to someone?
Donny: Yesterday. I got upset with someone yesterday. I’m a perfectionist. I like things done a certain way, but I have some tolerance because people make mistakes. But when people keep making mistakes over and over and over again, I have no patience for it. So I had to apologize yesterday.
Who do you call if you need a hug?
Donny: My wife.
Singer you would kill to do a duet with that you’ve never worked with before?
Donny: Stevie Wonder
Do you have a tattoo?
Do you tweet?
Donny: All the time, almost daily.
Which of your siblings was the tattle tale of the family?
Donny: Marie (Laughs)
Which sibling did you turn to if you needed to lean on someone?
Growing up did you and Marie ever go through any competitiveness with each other?
Donny: Excuse me?! Has it ever ended? (Laughs) You look competitiveness up in the dictionary, and you’ll see our pictures. It never ends. I mean, c’mon!
Who makes you laugh out loud?
Donny: There’s a comedian called Brian Regan. I like him. I miss George Carlin. I still like Jim Carey. I know he’s silly but I like the Jim Carey stuff. Will Ferrell makes me laugh.
The “Donny & Marie” album is in the stores now! Follow Donny on Twitter: @donnyosmond.