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Donny Osmond talks parenting and showbiz, days before Cleveland concert

Cynthia with Donny Osmond in the studio of WOIO-TV CBS19 (2001)
Cynthia with Donny Osmond in the studio of WOIO-TV CBS19 (2001)
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The anticipation was building for days, knowing I would be interviewing Donny Osmond. I first met Donny in 2001 when I anchored the noon show at WOIO CBS-19 in Cleveland. Fast forward 12 years later, I’m honored to talk with him again.

I get a call from his publicist 15 minutes before the international icon rings my cell phone. I admit. I was blushing. Blushing like Donny's hit song, Puppy Love.

As much as I had prepared for the interview, my nerves were still a little knotted. Finally, the phone rings. I answer, “Good Morning, this is Cynthia.” “Hi Cynthia, this is Donny Osmond.” “OMG, it was him, really him! Donny Osmond called me!” [In those few seconds, I had an out-of-body experience. I froze. I quickly thawed and my 30-minute interview began.]

Throughout my journalism career, I've interviewed many celebrities, entertainers and politicians. But there was something uniquely comforting about Donny Osmond. While he's a tad older, it was as if I was catching up with a high school classmate.

Donny is touring with his famous sister Marie in their holiday show: Donny & Marie Christmas. The pair will be in Cleveland, Monday, December 16 for a 7:30pm show at Quicken Loans Arena. Click here for tickets. The multi-million dollar production features Christmas classics in the holiday tradition of the Osmond Family Christmas television specials. You’ll also hear hits like Puppy Love and A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N. Roll.

If you want to know how to be a good parent, having good parents can give you an idea of how to plot your path. That’s where Donny Osmond got his first lesson in Parenting 101 – from his parents.

“My parents were very loving. They were a perfect example for me because I knew they loved each other,” Osmond said. “My father was always respectful of my mother.”

It’s the example that Donny says he and his wife Debbie of 35 years have mirrored for their children. He’s the father of five children – ranging from a soon-to-be 16 year old to a 34 year old. He has six grandchildren, from eight years old to a newborn. What do his grandkids call him? “I answer to anything,” he said laughing. “They call me “bapa,” which means grandfather.

As for his parenting style, Donny summed it up like this. "I hope we are consistent. If you tell a child no, you’d better follow through." With that follow through he contends, your actions must be grounded in love.

Since children are individuals, Donny says parents and children must respect each other. "Children have likes and dislikes. It’s a challenging fine line you have to walk, being the authority in the home." Of his household Donny says, it bears similarities to most families. "It’s a typical home, trying to get your children to do their homework.”

As my interview continued, his responses often had me laughing and thinking, "he’s famous, but he can relate to you." Here are more highlights from my interview.

Treasuring moments in the midst of chaos

Cynthia: Sometimes things get a little crazy in my house. Things are not always in their proper place. Toys are here and there. [Translation – a hot mess]

Donny: (Laughing) "So you’ve been to my home. We’ve got Lego pieces all over the place and you’ll be walking and you might step on one. These are great moments. You have to be very careful [and not get too worked up] about those times ‘cause they are precious and once they’re gone, they’re gone."

Staying connected with family while on the road

"You gotta love Skype baby! I’m always Skyping, pretty much 24/7. I also use Google Hangouts. It allows you to get all your family members together at the same time."

"I did a video-teleconference about songwriting with one of my son’s classes. [The kids were shocked to find out Donny Osmond was his dad.] My son was a hero that day."

The balancing act of gift-giving during the Holidays

"We love to shop online for Christmas. If you set a precedent, don’t go crazy!" [When you go shopping and you have a generous wallet one year, you've set yourself up for a repeat.] "It's a dangerous precedent to set."

Keeping normalcy amid Hollywood glitz and glamour

"You would think since I’m in show business, I’d have everybody doing everything for me but I don’t. I like mowing my own lawn and the reason I do it – I’ve been in the business so long that I’ve seen how it’s easy to get caught up in the luxuries of the world. It’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy."

"We live in a very nice home, not a Hollywood showpiece, a kid friendly home atmosphere."

"The whole Hollywood scene is smoke and mirrors. It’s nice to get out of that dreamland and face reality. The tour is really exciting, a multi-million dollar production. But at the end of the tour, the curtain comes down and you go home. Home is where your heart needs to be. You have to make sure your focus remains there."

Invitation to Michael Jackson to escape Hollywood frenzy

"I remember talking with Michael Jackson before he passed away. He would call me just to check in. I said, “Where are you, Michael?” He and his kids were hiding in Phoenix to get away from the press. I told Michael to come to my house. No one would know he was here. He could get away and the kids could play and have a good time. He [Michael Jackson] said okay." Unfortunately Michael passed away before having a chance to take Donny up on the offer.

Osmond told me he vows to maintain balance, just knowing the ups and downs of Hollywood. “I’ve decided not to go there.”

Involving kids in show business

(Laughing) "Run away! No, really, it’s a tough business. It’s met with a lot of rejection. You have to love it to stay in it. Never lose sight of the simple things in life – family and home."

Business venture with focus on the home

Donny and his wife Debbie have launched a new venture called Donny Osmond Home. His wife Debbie is the inspiration behind the idea. The two will present their venture at a home furnishing expo next month in Atlanta. Donny Osmond Home will include moderately priced home furnishings that create a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Cleveland memories

Donny credits Cleveland with supporting the Osmond Brothers when they came out with the song, One Bad Apple. Cleveland was one of the first cities where the group performed. He says the response was overwhelming.

The Soldier of Love icon has performed on Broadway, hosted game shows and won the 2009 performance on Dancing with the Stars. The list continues.

He's currently working on his 60th album. A consistent performer. A consistent parent. Now that's staying power!

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