Before she flies solo, Marie Osmond flies, for real. She owns a private jet befitting a superstar, which on weekdays she has been flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and back.
This crisscrossing of the airways has been necessary as as Osmond toggles between “The Talk” daytime TV show and the final weeks of the Donny & Marie show at the Flamingo. The show is closing out its 11-year run Saturday, meaning for the first time since they were little kids Donny & Marie no longer will be an entertainment team. “A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll” is to be forever retired.
D&M now are pursuing individual interests, with Donny recording a new album to be followed by a tour, and Marie heading back to TV on “The Talk,” joining regular co-hosts Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Eve and Carrie Ann Inaba (the show’s moderator).
There has been some overlap in the two projects, as Marie agreed to start her run on the CBS daytime show in September with about three months left in the Flamingo Las Vegas residency. So she’s been the performing the production show with its 7:30 to 9 p.m. run time, then meet-and-greet, then a flight late at night to Van Nuys, California, landing at midnight.
The next day, it’s an afternoon taping of “The Talk,” and another flight back to Las Vegas in time to prep for the next Flamingo show. Osmond has run this race four times a week since the first week of September.
It’s a laborious schedule. But Osmond remains cheerful, chatty, as if hosting a prolonged meet-and-greet during her frequent trips to L.A.
“People ask me when I sleep, and it’s not much,” Osmond says on the walk across the runway at Henderson Executive Airport. “This is fun. I get to take my shoes off, and I am a total night owl.”
She pauses, turning to members of her entourage that includes “The Talk” wardrobe staff. “Let’s order a pizza!”
Not tonight. We arrive at the plane, and at this moment I remove “jet” from the description. This is an Epic single-engine turbo prop that carries six passengers. This is a tight, loud and fast aircraft — imagine flying at 29,000 feet in a Lamborghini, and you have Air Marie.
She immediately pulls on a headset to communicate — you cannot hear conversations from even a few feet away. Without prompting, she says, “It’s not as fancy as Donny’s plane, but it’s a lot less expensive. It will get us there faster than Donny’s plane. It’s really like a jet, but it doesn’t cost as much to fly it.”
Always with the competition. Maybe Donny & Marie can stage a cross-country race in their respective aircrafts. But throughout their residency at Flamingo, the Osmonds have carried on their onstage ribbing outside the showroom. Say to Marie, “I talked to Donny on Saturday,” and she’s quick to fire back, “I’m sorry.”
Over the years and to great effect, Donny has jabbed at his sister’s third-place finish on “Dancing With the Stars” as he famously won the competition. “If it were a fainting contest, you would have won,” referring to her collapse during the competition. She teases him about his torn gluteus maximus from several years ago, saying, “Donny hardly moves, but he still broke his butt.”
— The Talk (@TheTalkCBS) November 12, 2019
Such shtick, such high-performance precision.
That quality is present in this particular episode of “The Talk,” during which Marie and the panel — with Paris Hilton subbing for Osbourne — addresses the news of the day, which is the Mattel company marketing a gender-exclusive Barbie doll.
On set, on national TV, Marie calls out, “Donny used to play with Barbies!” a comment that draws laughter from the studio audience and is certain to cause Donny to wince, wherever he is.
But Donny did make a heartfelt appearance with all of the original Osmond Brothers on “The Talk” for Marie’s 60th birthday on October 14. That event served as the final Osmond Brothers performance, and Saturday ends the Osmonds’ ticketed shows for good.
Marie has routinely referred to Donny & Marie as a commodity, saying, “This is a powerful brand. How many other duos have this strong of a brand?” She also praises the brothers who are not in that brand, as if making sure they are duly recognized. “In the harmonies, those high notes you hear are Merrill.”
The Donny & Marie show is the uncommon show to close on the Strip while it still has strong box-office viability. Donny reportedly was not interested in a one-year extension, or even a four-year deal, to remain at Flamingo. The top-tier, secondary market tickets for the closing show have hovered between $3,000 and $4,000 for weeks.
Marie has reviewed options to continue in Las Vegas, possibly with another stage partner (Suzanne Somers among them) at a different resort (such as MGM Grand and David Copperfield Theater), but as of now she has nothing on the books to headline on the Strip.
Regardless of her future onstage, Marie will not miss the wear and tear on her body during the Donny & Marie run. On the flight back to Vegas, she removes a shoe with a grimace, saying, “Don’t look at my feet!”
Marie discloses that she has broken six toes in her 11-year run, the result of dancing in her heavily binged heels.
“Show business is not for the wimpy,” she says.
To reinforce that point, just Thursday night she aggravated a bruised and chipped bone and torn meniscus in her right knee after tripping just before singing (oddly enough) “Walk This Way.”
Marie shouted, “Hey, D! I think you’re on!’ Donny arrived onstage, joking, “I was taking a nap!” but soon realized the severity of his sister’s injury. So Donny, seemingly tireless at 61, soldiered on to close the show on his own. He also flew solo Saturday night. But Marie is performing anyway, limiting her dancing, for the final shows.
Marie will go on to tell the story of the siblings’ finale on “The Talk,” of course, as she has a natural connection to the audience. There is a moment following every taping, after the cameras halt recording, where Marie and the hosts walk to the audience to say hello. This was never in practice before a member of the Osmonds joined the show.
Now it happens after every show, a dash of traditional show business charisma.
“I am really loving it. Everything I have done in my career has led to this,” Marie says on the flight back to Vegas, smiling and shouting into her headset. “All the chapters of my life, all of my experiences, have led me to that chair.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram