The toothy brother-and-sister tandem, who unintentionally helped define all that was gloriously cheeseball about the 1970s with their hit ABC variety show, was said to be hunkered down this week, taping new, mock episodes. The top-secret plan: Use the footage to secure a syndication deal for a revival of their old series; cash in on the 1970s nostalgia boom; foist the Osmonds again on an unsuspecting public.
The project was being done with unusual discretion for Hollywood, according to the Daily Variety report. Neither Dick Clark Productions (which would produce the show) nor Columbia TriStar Television (which would syndicate it) is talking.
One possible reason for the low profile, according to the trade paper, is that executives are wary of how the Osmonds (still locked into their wholesome, '70s images) play in the get-real 1990s. (Will audiences weep for their lost youth? Will they rush the stage, in a cynical rage, and tear Donny purple-covered limb from purple-covered limb?)
Donny and Marie ran four seasons on ABC, from 1976-1978. Upon their debut, Donny, then 18, and Marie, then 16, were the youngest-ever hosts of a weekly prime-time variety show. The innocence of youth provides a convenient excuse for some of the TV atrocities committed on the program: Ice follies, sequin-covered disco outfits, lame banter ("Cute, Marie. Real cute."), and, yes, occasional appearances by younger brother, Jimmy.
If a return to TV doesn't materialize, the kids will be all right. Donny, 39, has done stage (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), and is currently working on a Christmas album. Marie, 37, is an award-winning country singer (remember: it was her brother who was a little bit rock'n'roll), who also hawks her own line of porcelain dolls on QVC.
Consider yourselves warned.