Last week I wrote about the phone call I got from Donny while I was working at Alan Osmond Productions. This week, I’ll tell you about another call I had with Donny, this time as a writer.
In the late 1980s I had the opportunity to be a book and movie reviewer for a local publication, LDS Lifestyle and Entertainment Magazine. My position as a reviewer took me to several movies and brought me lots of books to read. On occasion, I was given concert tickets as well, such as the jazz concert at Red Butte Gardens. My reviews were well received by the magazine’s editors and readers, so more opportunities to publish often came my way.
In addition to writing for the magazine, I was also writing for the Osmonds, producing the quarterly Osmond Brothers newsletter, as well as The Osmond Boys newsletter, and occasionally writing for Marie, Ink.
Over the next few years I had developed a writing resume that gave me the confidence to try new things. I also continued my love of traveling and attending concerts, and that’s what took me to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to see Donny in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
I had planned to write a review of the show, so I took along my notepad so that I could keep notes about what I thought of the production. I had learned to write in the dark, all those movies and concerts I’d been reviewing necessitated learning the skills, so I had several pages of things to say about the show after seeing it twice at the Historical State Theater.
Once at home, I wrote the review and submitted it to my editor at the magazine. He read it over and asked, “You know the Osmonds, don’t you?”
“Yes, I work for Alan,” I said.
“Do you think you could get us an interview with Donny? We’d like to do a cover article about him for an upcoming issue of the magazine,” my editor said.
By this time in my life, I’d met Donny numerous times on the road, gotten past that first phone call, and even been on the road, selling merchandise for a string of Donny and Marie concerts, but I still didn’t know Donny very well. And I certainly didn’t know how to get a hold of him to ask about an interview for a magazine cover article.
“I could ask Alan if he has a number,” I said.
My editor perked right up. “That would be great! I’ve always wanted to talk to Donny Osmond, and doing an interview for the magazine would be incredible.”
I gave a sigh of relief. I would be off the hook. My editor wanted to do the interview. He said he’d use my theater review alongside his interview in the magazine, so I knew what I’d written would also be published.
A few days later, I called the editor and said, “Alan gave me the number for Donny’s personal assistant. You can call her and see what has to be done to arrange the interview.”
I passed on the information and figured I’d done my part.
About a week later, I got a phone call from my editor. “He will only do the interview with you.”
“What?” I said, not sure who my editor was referring to, or exactly what he meant.
“Donny Osmond. He will only do the interview if it’s with you.” My editor sounded totally dejected.
“What are you talking about?” I started to get a little nervous.
My editor went on to tell me that he had talked with Donny’s assistant, and she had checked with Donny, but Donny refused to talk with my editor. “His assistant says he will only do the interview for the magazine if it comes from you. We need to set up a time for you to call him.”
Call him? Oh, no! Another phone call with Donny? Immediately the memories of getting all flustered the last time came back and I was nervous already. Now I would have to conduct an interview?
My editor must have sensed my trepidation. “It’s the only way he will do the interview, and we really need him on the cover.”
The magazine was still fairly new and sales would likely improve if we had Donny on a cover. I knew it, and the editor knew it. I agreed to do the interview. It was a good thing I already knew so much about not only Donny, but the play as well, but I still did all the research I could so that I had good questions to ask.
Within a few days, a time was arranged and I was given a phone number to call. I was teaching school, so the time was during my prep period, and since we were on the block schedule and it bumped up against my lunch, I had two hours free to make the call and organize me notes.
The bell rang to release my last group of students until the afternoon. I got out the notes I had taken for the interview and the brick phone I used at the time. (If you’re too young, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about, so I’ll add a photo to the blog.) I waited until the second bell rang, making sure the announcements were over and all students were off in someone else’s class. I took a deep breath, and punched in the phone number my editor had given me.
The phone rang about six times, and I’d almost decided no one was going to answer when I heard a very deep and scratchy voice say, “This is Donny.”
Oh, my gosh! It was him, yet it didn’t really sound like him. It took me a half beat to regain my composure. “Hi, Donny. This is Lu Ann. I’m scheduled to do an interview with out for LDS Entertainment Magazine.”
“Oh, yeah. What time is it?” Donny said.
“Ten o’clock in Utah, so that makes it eleven in Minnesota, right?” I was afraid I’d some how screwed up the time and was calling him too early.
“Sorry,” he said. “I guess I overslept. Give me a minute, okay?”
“Sure. No problem,” I said.
From the sounds from the other end of the line, I suppose he put the phone down and got up from the bed. I woke up Donny Osmond!!! And he’s still in bed!!! I was suddenly totally embarrassed, but I had to calm my nerves because he was back.
“That’s better,” Donny said. “The show ran really late last night.”
“Should I call back another time?” I said. I didn’t want to bother him if this wasn’t a good time.
“No. No, I’m fine. I just needed to wake myself up a little better. Let’s do the interview.”
“Okay,” I said. There was no way I was going to ask him what he’d needed to do to wake up!
For the next hour we talked like we were old friends. I asked Donny the questions I had prepared, we laughed about how being an Osmond Brother was a little like being sold into slavery like Joseph had experienced at the hands of his brothers. (Of course, we all found out years later that Donny was experiencing severe panic attacks at the time of my interview, and it was likely he felt that exact way about his childhood experiences.) Talking with Donny like this was one of the most treasured experiences of my life.
I never did find out why he insisted that I do the interview rather than my editor. I’ve always assumed it was because he knew I worked for his brother, Alan. Maybe that connection made him feel safe, again my assumption after learning of the panic attacks. Whatever the reason, I was glad I got the chance to do the interview.
Whenever I see him now, he always acts like he knows he is supposed to know me, but he just can’t pull my name out of his memory bank. That’s okay. If he did, I might actually have to own up and tell him that talking to him on the phone gives me panic attacks of my own.