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Ricardo Baca is the Caller-Times media critic. He can be reached via email at

Sunday, February 4, 2001

ABC movie tells all about the Osmonds

The family of 10 siblings is still singing and recording and doing their own thing

Donny Osmond
A new TV movie that guts one of America's most beloved and despised families asks the question: Do you really want to know what's "Inside the Osmonds"?
   The new movie, "Inside the Osmonds" (7 p.m. Monday on ABC), is the first authorized TV movie that was made with the consent and cooperation of the famous family. Jimmy Osmond, the youngest brother, served as one of the executive producers, and all eight of his siblings and both parents signed off on the script.
   The Osmonds blasted onto the world's entertainment radar in the '70s, strangely enough, a decade known for free love and rebellion. But down-home values were still respected as the faithfully religious Osmonds broke onto the pop music scene in a big way.
   They got their start on "The Andy Williams Show," and they left it in search of a recording career. The hit singles to follow were "One Bad Apple" and "Puppy Love," and the siblings ran into problems that are now commonly associated with family bands such as the Jackson 5. Just wait, in 10 years there will be tell-all VHI "Behind the Music" shows about the brothers of Hanson and the sisters of SheDaisy.
   But back in Osmondland ... these siblings were out to conquer the world with their Bubble Gum sound.
   Zany skits and songs
   The hugely popular "The Donny and Marie Show" variety show followed as the two siblings (played by Patrick Levis and Janaya Stephens) acted out zany skits and songs. With the newfound money, the family built a mega-studio in Utah so they could move home from the harsh L.A. climate.
   The Osmonds were the Mormon anti-rockers who dreamed of an ethical and abstinent-'til-marriage singing career. As teens, the boys would invite girls back to the hotel from the concert, but the girls weren't allowed in their actual hotel rooms.
   As with any fad, the public eventually grew tired of Marie's face and Donny's cheeks. Their show was cancelled. Their record sales slowed. Their accountant advised them to claim bankruptcy.
   But the Osmonds' life makes for a good movie because they're still singing and recording and doing their thing. It makes for good network TV because rarely did any of the Osmonds walk illegal paths.
   The quality of "Inside the Osmonds" is consistent with other TV movies and draws strength from the members of its cast who have previous TV/music history experience. Jason Knight plays Wayne Osmond and Colin Ferguson plays label owner Mike Curb; both actors starred in "Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story."
   Competent jobs
   Not only are Levis and Stephens Donny and Marie lookalikes, they also do competent jobs at portraying the siblings who had a tough adolescent rivalry as co-stars on a hit show. In a surreal move (and probably to recognize the authenticity of this production), the real Osmonds close the film, hands adjoined, bearing smiles and singing their hearts out.
   With the Osmonds, you knew it had to be a happy ending.
   Moving on from his failed daytime talk show with his sister, Donny is now releasing a new CD of Broadway hits and is making the talk show circuit. He is scheduled to be on "Today" Monday morning, the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" on Tuesday, co-host "Live" with Regis on Thursday, appear as a guest on the Home Shopping Network on Friday and sit on Craig Kilborn's couch Monday, Feb. 12.
   But moving straight from "Inside the Osmonds" to modern-day Donny, tell me, do you miss his big hair?


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