More MS news articles for February 2001

TV Movie "Inside the Osmonds" tells all

Wednesday, January 31, 2001
Associated Press
 LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops being a singing, dancing member of the Osmonds in the 1970s. Really.

Sure, the brothers had girls chasing them and guys wanting to be them. The worldwide travel, magazine covers and gold records were great, too.

But behind the toothy grins and wholesome, milk-drinking image, there was infighting, heartache, rebellion and bad investments. Working amid the smoking, drinking and cussing of show business also clashed with the family's Mormon religious values.

It's all revealed -- along with white jumpsuits, fringe and polyester -- in the ABC movie "Inside the Osmonds," airing Monday at 8 p.m. EST.

The film "was almost therapy in a way for my family. It really shows what happened. Some of it was hard to swallow," said Jimmy Osmond, who served as one of six executive producers. "For many years, we would just not talk about anything that is negative, and now everybody is kind of having fun sharing the true Osmond story."

It wasn't easy getting Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie, Jimmy, and Tom and Virl (the two oldest brothers, who are hearing-impaired), along with parents George and Olive, to agree on the script.

Not everyone remembered those crazy days the same way. And dredging up hurt feelings from three decades ago brought some tears.

"It was interesting to have a meeting of the minds and say, 'Did you really feel that way about me?"' Jimmy said in a telephone interview from Branson, Mo., where he and some of the brothers perform more than 300 shows a year in their own theater.

"Merrill was kind of in denial about his feelings. He said, 'Hey, I never felt bad about being pushed back,' and when he saw the way it was, he just wept," Jimmy said. "It was very healing."

The girls who screamed and cried over the Osmonds in the '70s might have been shocked to know what really happened:

* The Symbionese Liberation Army, a revolutionary group that kidnapped Patty Hearst in 1974, once threatened to bomb the Osmonds' concerts. "Everyone's a critic," replied one of the brothers.

* Donny and Jay engaged in a major makeout session with fan-club members. True to their morals, the brothers kept their pants on and kicked out the girls for getting too frisky.

* Merrill rebelled after being replaced by Donny as the group's lead singer.

* Donny fumed at being the butt of jokes on the goofy "Donny and Marie" variety show; Marie briefly starved herself after an ABC executive scolded her for gaining weight.

* Father George and brother Alan were plagued with guilt over misguided investments that left the family on the verge of bankruptcy.

"How many people could lose $80 million and still be talking to each other?" said Veronica Cartwright, who plays Olive. "That's a devastating loss and for the family to all stick together, that's amazing."

Cartwright and Bruce McGill, who plays George, started out as skeptics, but wound up respecting the clan, whose motto was "family, faith and work in that order."

"I was guilty like anyone of being prejudicial about the Osmonds," said McGill, whose musical tastes in the '70s ran to the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. "They were super-skilled pros, and that was a bit surprising."

The movie's final scene features a rare reunion of the family that has sold 80 million records and had 48 gold and platinum albums. The actors start out singing "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," then give way to the real-life Osmonds, including gray-haired Merrill and Jay.

"There were a lot of hardened industry people there and they were crying," Jimmy recalled.

"I've been around and seen a lot," McGill said, "but it was as truly moving as anything I've been exposed to."

Just flying 11 Osmonds to the Canadian set required three chartered jets and massive rearranging of schedules.

"Alan was reluctant because of his multiple sclerosis. It's hard for him," Jimmy said. "My mom and dad don't love to travel and it was very cold in Winnipeg. The brothers and I were doing Christmas shows and Marie was doing doll shows.

"This is probably one of the last projects we'll do as a family," he said. "Everybody is doing their own thing."

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.