August 6, 2014
David J. Spatz – Atlantic City Weekly
Donny Osmond is a realist. The pop star and former teen singing idol has no intention of being one of those cradle-to-grave entertainers. And that, he says, is why he’s already preparing for life after show business.
Earlier this year, Osmond and his wife Debbie launched Donny Osmond Home, an ever-expanding line of affordable home furnishings and décor items. Which, if you think about it, is really just another form of “show” business.
“We’ve been working on it for four years, and it’s something my wife and I can do together for the rest of our lives,” Osmond said during a recent phone call from Las Vegas, where he and his sister Marie were wrapping up another stint of their six-year residency gig at the Flamingo Hotel before bringing it to the Boardwalk for a two-week run.
“There will be a day when the curtain comes down and I’m not going to perform any more,” he added. “We just celebrated 36 years of marriage. She’s got a wonderful eye for interior decorating, and we just love doing this together.”
Osmond seems to be bringing to the retail world the same well-calculated approach he’s brought to the art of entertaining an audience since he broke into the business in the early 1960s. He mentioned, several times, the importance of protecting the brand — both his own name brand and the one he and his wife are creating for their home products line.
Rolling out Donny Osmond Home last January wasn’t a sprint, he indicated. It’s a marathon, something the couple intends to be in for the long haul. But he acknowledged the brand took off faster than they imagined.
“We’re already in more than 1,000 stores and Home Depot is already carrying some of our stuff,” he said. “The brand message is try to make home and family number one, because your home is so important, especially in my world of show business. I’m out on the road touring and working hard at what I do. But when I come home, I come home to a nice atmosphere that my wife has been able to create.”
One of the Osmonds’ goals was to make the products affordable to the masses without sacrifice quality, he explained. “It’s not extremely high-end stuff, because we want it to be moderately priced, so a lot of people can afford it,” he said. “But it’s not cheap stuff, either, because that stuff breaks down, and over time your reputation follows the breaking point of your product. It’s good quality stuff.”
Osmond, 56, may be looking to the future by creating the home furnishings line, but he’s not giving up his night job any time soon. The Donny & Marie Las Vegas residency gig that began at the Flamingo six years ago as a six-day trial balloon — it was the siblings’ first time working together in about 20 years — keeps getting renewed.
Although some have labeled their variety show a corny piece of throwback entertainment for a Strip audience that feeds on Britney Spears, Elton John and Celine Dion, the Donny & Marie show has been named “show of the year” several times. Two years ago, Donny Osmond actually beat out Dion for “best singer” honors in the Best of Las Vegas awards.
“I’ve been rubbing it in (Dion’s) face ever since,” Osmond laughed.
Donny and Marie Osmond return to Caesars Atlantic City for their third consecutive summer Aug. 8-21. Technically, it’s Marie’s third summer but her brother’s second.
Last year, right before they left Las Vegas for Atlantic City, Donny literally broke his butt — he tore his gluteus maximus — leaping from the stage onto a piano. His sister scrambled at the last minute and replaced her brother with several guest stars, including actor John Schneider.
“See? She had to bring at least three or four people to cover me,” Donny joked. “That just goes to show she just can’t work without me, right?”
The show they’re bringing to the Boardwalk is very different from the last time they performed together at Caesars in 2012. Sure, they’ll each do the hits they were associated with as teenagers; Donny will sing “Puppy Love” and “Go Away Little Girl,” and Marie will perform “Paper Roses.”
But most of the other material will be different. Osmond said it’s important to mix things up for the loyal Donny & Marie fans who show up every time their names are on a marquee.
“We’re getting three-peat and four-peat business. People keep coming back, it’s become their annual pilgrimage to come to the Donny & Marie show in Vegas and Atlantic City,” he said. “So it behooves us to constantly change it because they don’t want to see the same show over and over again. So we have to keep it fresh. Plus it’s good for us. It doesn’t get old, it doesn’t get tired. And the band loves it because there’s new material.”
One thing that doesn’t change is the sibling rivalry element they bring to the stage. That’s not an act; Donny and Marie, 54, are constantly playing a game of can-you-top-this. “It’s that competitive thing that we have. It’s so real, it’s so organic, it’s that Donny and Marie sibling rivalry that we have,” he said. “I rub it into her face every night that I won Dancing With the Stars (in 2009) and she got kicked off (in 2007). I have so much fun with that and the audience eats it up.”