This interview is over. Check that: Vegas Seven interviewing Marie Osmond is over. Marie Osmond interviewing Vegas Seven has just started.
Backstage and 45 minutes before she launches into “It Takes Two” with brother Donny to fire up their show at the Flamingo Showroom—where she’ll revisit her hits, sing operatically, needle her sibling, dance as if 30 years younger and kiss men in the audience, leaving her mark in bright red lipstick on foreheads and bald heads—Osmond puts us in a strangely flattering position. “You rock,” says the Green Valley resident about her inquisitor’s questioning technique (aw, gee, Marie), then asks her own questions about how to ask questions. Surely she wants to know because she’s about to become an interviewer on her new Hallmark Channel talk show, Marie! (weekdays at noon beginning Oct. 1, Cox Cable Channel 346). Yet you also sense genuine curiosity, as in: I know how I do my job. How do you do yours?
Let’s keep the focus on Marie, who’s both wildly succeeded and suffered, all in the intense glare of the media. Mother of eight children (biological and adopted), she conquered postpartum depression and weight gain (yes, thanks to Nutrisystem). In 2009, she publicly supported her daughter, Jessica, who came out as a lesbian. In 2010, she lost 18-year-old son, Michael, to suicide. In 2011, she remarried first husband Stephen Craig. Through everything, she stays onstage, as if performing is oxygen.
Osmond, who turns 53 on Oct. 13, is still a woman of clean-cut class who resorts to “shoot!” for emphasis. (Full disclosure: One time she spells out “s-h-i-t”—gasp!—but doesn’t utter it. Shhh. Don’t tell Donny.)
This seems like the Year of the Mormon in the culture, from Mitt Romney to baseball player Bryce Harper to The Book of Mormon. Does that amuse you?
I don’t have a desire to see [The Book of Mormon], because I heard they F-off God. I don’t need to hear that. I was recently in Washington, D.C., and they asked me my opinion on Mitt, and I said I’d rather have food poisoning than comment. I don’t get involved in politics. Do I have my political views? Of course. I don’t think we should judge people by what they are. How do they stand behind the Constitution? That’s what makes us different than any other country.
What will the talk show be like?
I’ve been through a lot of things like most people, from loss of parents to loss of a child and postpartum depression, children in rehabilitation places. It’s terrible some of the things we have to go through, but how do you face those challenges? I want something that gives hope and ideas on how to solve it for you. Celebrities are great, but some of the greatest things I’ve learned have been from my neighbors, just real people who go through life, an extension of my community. My mother was an optimist; the glass was always half full. That has served me well through my life. That’s a choice we make. We’re not born that way. But I want to laugh on the show, too.
Speaking of which, you have a distinctive chortle. Do people comment on it?
I hate my laugh! It’s too bawdy, like “Waaaaaa!” [She laughs that laugh, a hearty guffaw that crescendos into a high-pitched giggle.]
You’ve had your personal drama played out in the media. Do you ever get accustomed to that?
My children are not in the public eye, and they deserve their privacy. But I know there are certain things you lose being in the public eye. In general, the press has been very good and kind to me. And I’ve tried to be open. Like with my son, I knew everybody was going to ask a million questions, and so I chose to do Oprah and answer the questions everybody would want, and then we could just not talk about it forever.
You and Donny do a very physical, interactive show, as if Al Jolson were in the wings, whispering, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Do you consider yourselves old-school performers?
We come from the word “entertainer,” not “celebrity.” You have to know how to work that room every night and get them feeling like we see every one of them. We love it when people come up to us and say, “You’re on my bucket list.” We’re like, “Thank you?” But to be a woman working this long, how lucky am I? Donny and I look at each other all the time and go, “Shut up!” To still have a job, which is essential for me because alimony is all my money [to ex-husband Brian Blosil]. And I’m sure a lot of people have felt my pain.
More than 30 years after Donny & Marie on TV, is your needling bantering and comic timing with Donny still sharp?
He has none. [Laughs.] We were doing this interview, and they asked about brothers and sisters [as showbiz partners], and we said we really don’t know about any other except Karen and Richard Carpenter. I said, “Donny, you could really learn something from Richard—he never talked.” He said, “You could learn something from Karen: You could learn to sing.” It’s that sibling thing, but always with love. A husband and a wife can’t do that—you just don’t go there. It comes off nasty. We’re never nasty to each other … well, maybe when we were younger. A brother and a sister can really bring it.
Even with your clean-cut image, many men have long considered you, well, hot. Do you consider yourself sexy?
Thank you ever so. I love being a woman and being my age. Being who you are, that’s sexy. I think humor is sexy. A zest for living is very, very sexy. … I have been told I have nice legs.