Donny and Marie Osmond have had long careers in the entertainment business and they keep getting stronger. On April 11 they will host the 2008 Miss USA Pageant from Las Vegas, where just a year ago the entire family reunited for a concert to celebrate the family's 50 years in the industry.
Donny and Marie have hosted pageants in the past. Marie points out that she doesn't see pageants as solely beauty contests. "Well I think it's more than a beauty contest because they go on to the Miss Universe Pageant. And so I think they're kind of an ambassador for this country." Donny adds that his advice to the contestants is, "Don't take it too seriously. Have a good time. Just enjoy it, enjoy the process, enjoy the 15 minutes of fame." That may be great advice but when you're competing in front of millions of people, it might be hard to take.
"I think that (what) Marie and I are going to bring to the pageant is a little fun, a little enjoyment. ... - the banter back and forth with Marie and myself is going to be an interesting and important part of it, just to lighten it up a little bit. So it's entertaining. And that's what Marie and I are out to do, is to make it a very entertaining show."
"It's live," says Marie. "It's right then. It's right there. It's happening. And I think there's something exciting about that because you never know what can happen." And she knows about that, having fainted on the air when she was in Dancing with the Stars. "You know, it really is one of those things where, you're at home watching (and) you feel a part of it. It's a very exciting thing. So on the empathy side, yeah, I'm sure they're all going to be nervous and everything else. A friend of mine said he'd like to see the pageant start at 3:00 in the morning. 'Everybody out of bed - pageant starts now.' And he says then we'd find out who Miss Congeniality really is. But I think that these girls have worked very hard to get to this place and they, from what I understand so far, they're very excited about it.
"And so I think that Donny and I are there (to entertain). We've been around a long time. It's not about us. It's about them and I think that's what the show is going to be. It's going to be very exciting."
Both Donny and Marie insist they do not favor their personal preferences during the pageant. They are there strictly to move things along and entertain the audience. They want to remain impartial and not interject their personal views about the contestants. "I think you have to leave that to the judges," exclaims Marie. "I don't think it's our job to sway them in any particular direction. Our job is to highlight every girl and give them all an equal chance"
"I'm going to be very honest with you and tell you yeah, I'm going to have my favorites," Donny says. And Marie adds, "But it's not your job to say who." To which Donny adds, "Yeah, as a host you have to be pretty benign and right in the middle, and not try to sway any opinions because it's up to the women because it's a contest. And the judges have been hired for that specific purposes and it's their job. It's our job to present. Their job to judge."
Donny remembers an incident that happened to him when the duo was hosing a live show. "Well see, that's why I love these kinds of shows, is because it's live, anything can happen. I remember an incident back when we were doing another pageant show. We made a costume change during the commercial break. And, you know, (we) had two minutes to get everything changed so we were in a rush. Well I forgot to zip up my fly. Marie knew everything about it. She saw it, the whole bit, but she didn't tell me during the commercial break. We went three, two, one and we (started). And Marie just (said), 'Oh by the way, Donny, your fly is down.' Live television. So rest assured, this time around I'll be checking the fly."
The family has survived in the business for over 50 years by changing and reinventing themselves, while remaining true to their beliefs. Whether they sing country or rock and roll or even musicals, they are all continually evolving. Donny starred in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and he played Gaston in the stage version of Beauty and the Beast. And Marie toured in The Sound of Music and The King and I. Last year Marie was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Donny says, "I thought she did a fantastic job and I think she could've won. But I think it's a fantastic resurgence of her career." And, he adds, "Okay, I'll fill you in on something. Okay? I'm seriously considering (participating) next season." Will Donny make it to as far as his sister did?
When he was asked if he would ask his sister for hints about dancing if he did participate in the show, Donny quickly responds, "Heck no. I'll find out why she fainted and not do that," he chuckles. Of course, Marie blames her fainting spell to the poor air quality of the city due to the massive wildfires burning at the time.
Marie's weight has fluctuated over the years, and when she did Dancing with the Stars, she made a point of telling everyone she was losing weight. She is now a spokesperson for NutriSystem.
"Well of course I'm working out," she says. "I feel good. I feel - you just kind of get to that place where you're taking care of your parents and your kids. And I figured I'd put on about five pounds every year for over eight years. And, to have that 40 plus pounds off now, I mean, I feel fantastic. I feel - gosh, I feel younger than ever. ... I did it because of - I did something with the American Heart Association because my mom died of heart disease. My grandmother died of it. And, when you have those kinds of statistics - and my dad suffered from it, too. It runs in the family and my son said, 'Mom, I need you to lose some weight because we want you to be around.' And so it was a great excuse to do it. It gave a lot of women, I think, courage to do it and I've gotten thousands and thousands of emails from women saying they're taking up dancing."
Marie is proud of her influence and being the impetus for women to lose weight and get in shape. "And it's great to know that life isn't over in your Forties," she says with pride. "It's just beginning and so I think a lot of women tune into that show just to find that kind of hope."
As for entertaining, Donny and Marie will be making the concert scene later this year. "We decided to go back into Las Vegas - first time in like 30 years or so that we've done a long stint in Vegas," explains Donny. And the entire family will be touring the globe this year as well. "It was like getting on a bicycle again because we haven't performed in so many - 27 years since we've done a (family) tour together - which incidentally, is what I've been working on for the last eight months or so," exclaims Donny. "We're going over to the UK and Asia in May and Australia to do this reunion tour and (it's) nothing but hits - one after another. And it's just going to be so much fun to reunite as a family in that kind of a venue. We put a concert on sale at Wembley Arena and sold out in an hour." Not that speaks to the loyalty of their fans and the desire to see them all perform again.
Besides touring, Marie will continue designing dolls for her successful doll company. So what gives this talented woman the greatest satisfaction - other than her family? "The thing that gives you the most - for me anyway, that gives the most personal satisfaction is the thrill that they all bring to people. I mean, that's really truly what's important. A doll is a doll unless you put heart and meaning behind it. The reason that I do it is because it brings generations together. And I mean, I could talk at length about the feeling that exists between a doll (and people) - and I think that same thing applies in doing a show because hopefully at the end, they applaud. They're smiling. They're having a great time. And I know Donny is the same way - it's a great feeling to walk out to an audience and you can see those people out there like, 'Oh yeah. Okay. Well prove it to me.' And by the end of it, you've won them over. They know you're the real deal and that you have a good time, and that we do this because we enjoy it.
"After all these years we really do enjoy it. And it's - with anything that you do, if you keep that kind of a thought inside of your heart -- which is why are you really doing it? Because if it's just for money, you really shouldn't (do it). I mean, it's great to be compensated, especially when you have eight kids and you're divorced - and you have to send them all to college. But it's really truly the excitement that you see in (people's) faces that I love. And I see that in six and seven year old girls that bring their dolls up to be signed. I see it in 45-year-old women that come because they grew up with you on television."
And Donny adds, "I think it was Detroit a couple years ago. And I looked out in the audience about five rows back and it was just an entire family - every age demographic. There was a little kid there like five or six, seven years old. And then the teenagers were there. And then the mom and dad were sitting there. And then the grandparents (were) next to them. And depending upon the song that I sang, they got excited about it. I mean, when I went back to The Andy Williams Show and showed some of the footage, the parents - the grandparents just lit up. The five year old was bored to tears. I said what is this? But as soon as I went to something from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, that little kid was singing along with me. So it really is an interesting demographic or audience that Donny and Marie bring to a show that really appeals to wide demographics," he explains.
Marie was flabbergasted when she learned their "recognizability factor." She said, "Donny and Marie, it's like an 88% recognizability across the world." This statistic startled Donny as well. Marie confessed, "It blew my mind. And I really, truly believe it's because we started so young and we've never left the business. We keep remaking, reinventing, redoing. And Donny and I came from a different kind of entertainer. We were raised to be entertainers instead of celebrities, you know, which kind of was, you know, the old school - the Sammy Davis, Jr.'s, the Bob Hope's, the Ethel Merman's, the Lucille Ball's that taught us there is a work ethic, I think that we learned as kids that is very different from a celebrity attitude now, which is what are you going to give me for it? We find joy in making people happy ..."
Marie conveyed a story about what happened at one of her events. "There was this gal that came up to one of my doll signings and it was really cute because out in the audience they were watching me. She had a bunch of kids there. Her 7-year-old was in the audience and you could hear her yell out mommy, I didn't know she could sing. Well I had them come back after, you know, to say 'hi.' And she said, 'I have to tell you, I took my 14-year-old to see Donny in concert. And she said that she was sitting there and (her daughter said), 'Oh mommy, he's so handsome.' And the mom said, 'I know sweetheart - I felt the same way at your age.' I thought that was hysterical." It is funny, but it also shows the longevity and continued likeability of the family. No matter what they do, they are successful. Their work ethic is strong and they cultivate their talents to please others.
Next year Marie will be hosting a talk show on television. However in the meantime, she and her brothers can be seen around the world performing in concerts. And this week Donny and Marie host the 2008 Miss USA Pageant on NBC live on April 11 from 9-11p.m.