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October 25, 2014

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Q+A: Donny & Marie’s renewal and L.V. plans, plus, his injury, 60th album and 50th anniversary

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Harrah's

Flamingo headliners Donny and Marie Osmond.

Donny & Marie Showroom at Flamingo

Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond celebrate the renaming of their showroom to Donny & Marie Showroom at Flamingo Las Vegas on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.

Launch slideshow »

Moments after Flamingo headliners Donny and Marie Osmond announced their new contract extension and unveiled their own named theater, Donny & Marie Showroom, I sat with them for a wide-ranging interview.

How long did it take you to make up your minds to renew through 2014, and why only until then — for now? Was there any wrestling between the two of you? What started out as just a three-week guest run has led to six years here so far. Why not take it to the full 10?

Donny Osmond: The challenge we both have is that we have so many opportunities because we have different careers that we’re dealing with; Donny and Marie together, Donny and Marie separately. Because of this, you seize the opportunity of success like this.

Marie Osmond: I think when the show was voted Best Show in Las Vegas, that was really a boost for us. For me, this is the best stay-at-home job for a mommy to have. I mean, look at Celine. I know that’s one of the reasons why Britney is coming here; it’s just a really great stay-at-home job. Also, Vegas is such a great location; I can be in L.A. in an hour.

Could you extend it next year to be longer?

D.O.: Yes, we could, but the thing that we like is the fact that you can’t just sit down in one spot in show business even though the entire world comes to Vegas.

But you do get hiatus time to travel elsewhere for shows? Get time off? What’s the number of weeks you’ll play the Flamingo under the new extended contract?

D.O.: Thirty-six with the Flamingo deal — 33 weeks here and three weeks at Caesars in Atlantic City. It’s not really time off from the Flamingo because when we go out and do our Christmas tour or other shows, we always promote the Flamingo show.

M.O.: And then when you’re in Atlantic City; that’s still another three weeks that you’re working. It’s a lot of work.

D.O.: So it’s really nonstop.

Donny, your next project is the 60th album to mark 50 years in showbiz. Then after that, you’ll take a look at the TV special from Las Vegas to celebrate the half-century?

D.O.: Correct. Plus, my wife after 35 years has decided to become my partner in business. We just launched a company called Donny Osmond Home Decor. So, Jan. 7, when we launch in retail and department stores and the catalog, we’ll have over 1,000 products. Amazon starts promoting it next week.

Marie, you've been a performer since a very young age, and you’ve been on the Strip now for several years. Do you have advice for Britney Spears as she’s about to become your fellow Caesars Entertainment star at Planet Hollywood?

M.O.: Did you know we debuted Britney on the “Donny & Marie” talk show back in the 1800s? Haha. We were the first daytime talk show she performed on. It’s really been a lot of fun to watch her career and see what she’s been doing since then. I actually think that she seems to be in a really good place and wants something consistent like this Vegas residency. I wish her well.

D.O.: My advice is easy: Drink a lot of water! She’ll get Vegas throat, then after a while she’ll acclimate to it. You have to drink a lot of water because if she dances the way everybody’s expecting her to dance, she’ll be sweating, she’ll be working hard, but what Marie and I do, as you’ve seen time and time again, you leave it all onstage. People want to be entertained because the bar here in Vegas is so high. You’ve got to work hard.

Will you add material to the show with the new contract extension?

'Donny & Marie' Welcome Susan Boyle

Donny Osmond welcomes Susan Boyle to Launch slideshow »

Donny & Marie Osmond's 500th Performance

Donny & Marie Osmond's 500th performance at the Flamingo on March 23, 2011. Launch slideshow »

D.O.: We’re adding all the time.

M.O.: Every year, we add new stuff.

So it’s a new-look show as of when?

D.O.: As of every night.

M.O.: Donny had that injury, so we had to put together a new show.

D.O.: I went to a doctor; most people tear their ACL; I tore my A-S-S. I use that at the show, and the audience eats it up!

M.O.: I told him that joke was a dis-ass-ter.

I don’t know who dares write those groaners! But while your brother does the new album, what project are you doing?

M.O.: You know I’d love to tell you some things right now, but I just can’t. The timing isn’t quite right; I’m very excited that we’ll be able to make some announcements soon.

But you’re not going to take the time off?

M.O.: I’ve never taken any time off, no.

Why do you still drive yourselves?

D.O.: When you start at 5 years old …

M.O.: And I was 3 …

D.O.: That’s all you know.

But you have other things going on in your life. Your family …

D.O.: The thing is, Robin, you have to balance your life.

M.O.: You have to love what you do; you have to like people. I love people. Whether you’re writing a book or promoting or doing an album project or television project or whatever it is you’re doing, you have to love what you do.

You have a great family who’s very understanding of those things. I have incredible children; I work with all my daughters. It’s fun for me to live and work here in Vegas; it’s terrific because I get to spend time with them and not be on the road away from them.

D.O.: And that’s one of the reasons why Debbie and I decided … when I go home, this is the way I’m able to balance my life. We both work very, very hard on stage, as you’ve seen.

Is there a title yet for the new album? Do you know if it will have new material or your yesteryear hits?

D.O.: I don’t know yet, Robin. I just started to put paint on the canvas. I don’t know if it will be live from the Flamingo. I don’t want to make anything definite yet because this is a very important album to me. How many people can say they’ve done 60 albums and celebrated 50 years?

So I have to take my time with this one. I’m really going to be selective with the songs, with material, the production. I’ll spend more time on this one than any of the ones before.

Donny and Marie Osmond

M.O.: From my standpoint, Donny having this injury I think was one of the greatest things that ever happened. The reason why is because he dances great in the show, he’s in great shape, but this has caused him to sit and sing, and I’m telling you the audiences love him. There are not many men who can sit and tell you stories and sing songs and be a real crooner. There are not many crooners out there. We grew up working with the best. Whatever the album material is, he can sing, but don’t tell him I said that. Haha.

I have to tell you, though, it’s been so cool! People are loving the show right now. It’s not the dancing, it’s not the pizzazz it has been … but I’m telling you I get more comments and tweets saying they’re loving this Donny because he’s sitting and singing.

How long until you recover fully?

D.O.: I’m actually almost there. The goal is November because that’s when the Christmas tour starts. Once that starts, I’ll be dancing like a crazy man again.

Do you have to be careful to ensure you don’t wreck it a second time?

D.O.: The doctors and therapists told me to do the shows with a cane until November. As you can see, just this week I can walk without a cane now. So I’m fully recovered; it’s just building up the muscles again. I’m constantly working out with physical therapy. You name it, and I’m doing it. It originally tore when I was on “Dancing With the Stars,” and then it just kept getting worse and worse and worse.

July 3 was the night. I was trying a new move, and it was a pretty strenuous move while dancing. It was just a time bomb; it was going to happen eventually. It just popped, and the gluteus medias muscle tore apart. It was a very painful couple of months for me. I had to sit and couldn’t really move.

At that point in our interview, Donny showed me photos of the ripped muscle on his cellphone. I winced at the blood-red damage as he laughed at my reaction.

He promised to take it easy as he begins dancing again. Donny & Marie are at the Flamingo through Nov. 23, then take off for their Christmas shows. Their 15-city tour this holiday season starts in Tulsa, Okla., on Dec. 1 and ends in Minneapolis on Dec. 21. They return to the Flamingo early in the New Year.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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