Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 | 7:40 p.m.
She’s so Vegas, this Marie Osmond, shimmying in sequined costumes and singing at great volume with her brother Donny at Flamingo Las Vegas. Having just signed a contract that will keep the duo in place at the hotel through 2012, Marie has become even more enmeshed in the city with a new Vegas-centric song on the upcoming Donny & Marie album, and by accepting the prestigious Nevada Ballet Theatre Woman of the Year award to be presented at the NBT’s Black & White Ball at Paris Las Vegas in January.
The up-tempo Vegas song’s title says it all, “Vegas Love,” and Marie says the tune will have Ann-Margret-quality legs. “Look out, Elvis and ‘Viva Las Vegas,’ ” she said with a laugh today during a phone conversation as she was “on my way to work.” The new CD is Donny & Marie’s first release since 1978, the year they cut “Winning Combination” and the soundtrack for “Goin’ Coconuts.” The new album was recorded at Marie’s home studio and is scheduled for release in October.
It made sense to include a Vegas number, given that Marie is one of us these days.
“I actually am a Las Vegan,” Marie said. “I live here, and we wanted to do a song about Las Vegas. We have some original songs, some covers. I sing a couple of original songs solo, Donny sings a couple of original songs solo. It is a good mix.” The title hasn't yet been decided officially. Marie also has recorded her own album of inspirational songs titled, "Now Thank We All Our God," which will feature opera pieces, choirs and strings, due at the end of the month.
It seems as if Donny & Marie have been Flamingo headliners far longer than just 11 months, when they started their run at the hotel's classic showroom. But the duo do seem comfortable as the show has withstood the recession and nearly fills the showroom each night. “I’m embracing the city, and it’s fantastic, from the Strip to our community in Henderson, and I’m learning a lot about the part of Las Vegas people don’t see. ... Donny and I knew we’d be doing something together again, we’d talked about it for quite a bit of time, and we wanted to be in a place that appreciates good, hard-working entertainers, Frank and Sammy and Elvis, people like that.”
In that process, the NBT sought Marie to lend her name to an organization that had to make significant cuts in staff and performers over the past several months.
As the NBT Woman of the Year, Marie Osmond joins such recent honorees as Debbie Reynolds (2001), Chita Rivera (2002), Carol Channing (2003), Celine Dion (2004), Ann-Margret (2005), Rita Rudner (2006), Paula Abdul (2007), Twyla Tharp (2008) and, last year, Bette Midler. On that list, only the chronically daffy Abdul, with her scant affiliation to Las Vegas (she spent much of the night of the 2007 Black & White gala referring to the NBT as “Nevada City Ballet”), has seemed ill-advised. Years ago, NBT officials, including co-founder Nancy Houssels, decided to bestow the Woman of the Year honor on celebs with national, and even international, drawing power in an effort to shine a light on the company. It helps, certainly, that these women have performed on a somewhat regular basis in Las Vegas.
“I was kind of looking at this list, and you look at people like Debbie Reynolds, and what an honor to be on a list with her,” Marie said. “And most of them, we’ve actually worked with.” True. Donny & Marie have been onstage with a remarkably far-reaching collection of entertainment icons. One of the more telling moments in Donny & Marie’s show at the Flamingo is when a montage of clips from their variety and talk shows is played on the big screen. The stunning list of those who have appeared with the brother-sister act include Desi Arnaz, Sonny & Cher, Justin Timberlake, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg.
“That’s not including Groucho Marx,” Marie added. “Groucho Marx -- he was in a wheelchair, and he still pinched my butt.”
Marie says the Woman of the Year designation is more a philanthropic honor than a reflection of her aptitude as a dancer.
“I’ve never been a dancer. Are you kidding? Did you see the first episode of ‘Dancing With the Stars?’ ” she said, laughing some more. “I am a better dancer than Donny, though. I feel, if I am going to be here, I am going to be reaching out and helping these worthwhile organizations and charities.
“There are some really great people out here, huh?”
No question. As they say, set it to music.
Donny & Marie are heading off for a few days (dark from Sunday through Aug. 24) for a trip to England, where they will preview songs from the new album and appear in front of an all-celebrity audience for “An Audience With Donny & Marie” to be broadcast over the next couple of months on the British network ITV1. … Wednesday’s D&M show was remarkably silly, as the gentleman called up onstage to sing “Crazy” with Marie turned out to be an attention-appreciating ham named Pete who practically needed to be peeled off Marie as the two slow danced. Later, she asked him, jokingly, “Where’s my $100, Pete?” and Pete actually climbed back onstage with a $100 bill. She told him to donate the money to one of her favorite charities, the Children’s Miracle Network. Can’t say if this happens every night, or at all, but it was pretty funny. … Another moment caught: During the couple’s dance-off segment, Donny really works his butt off. He performed a spin move and, as Marie joked, he looked like the Bellagio water show.
Something from the Arts District
Cindy Funkhouser is offering a massive sale at her haven of crazy artifacts, the Funk House, at 1228 S. Casino Center Blvd. Through Saturday, all items are 50 percent off. Funkhouser, one of the architects of the district and First Friday, said she launched the sale because “I’m just trying to generate some income, like everybody else.” If you haven’t visited (and even if you have), the Funk House is just loaded with strange and strangely fascinating antiques, including quite a lot of old medical instruments that look quite medieval but make good conversation pieces.
Well, we finally have a genuine Beyonce-styled performer on the Strip. It’s Wayne Brady, who, accompanied by a collection of all-male backup dancers, now does a full-costume impression of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” with an audience-provided movie title as theme. This number is uncorked near the end of his “Making It Up” performances at The Venetian, and it’s fantastic.
Holding a hot hand, The Venetian has extended Brady’s residency through August 2010. Brady also is host of the new version of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal” on CBS beginning Oct. 5. Turning Brady loose on the costumed audience will be a radical departure from the days of Monty Hall. With Brady, the host might get dressed up, too. As Beyonce, even.
Saturday night, the Palms is hosting its Midsummer Night’s Dream party, the theme of which is “A Pirate’s Guilty Pleasure.” The fete starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $200 to $250. Pirate outfits, or at least a mask, are said to be required for entry. Me? I’m going as Dale Berra.
Some 702.tv matter
This nugget is part of the News segment on tonight’s episode of 702.tv on Vegas TV (10:30 p.m., Cox Cable channel 14):
“And speaking of people at play, a man who illegally parked in a handicapped parking space at Paradise Park on Tropicana Avenue and McLoud Street has been arrested with a cache of illegal drugs. A Clark County Park Police officer approached the car near the playground area to offer a ‘friendly warning,’ and this guy was found to have narcotics in the car. My question is, who gets busted by the Park Police anyway? We’re not talking about the brightest mind here. This is the kind of case usually solved by ‘Reno 911’s’ officer Dangle. This is the craziest case of wrong-place, wrong-time since Paul Reubens decided to become an adult film critic.”
Random news from Monti Rock III
FMR3 is calling for a boycott of “American Idol” until the show brings back Paula Abdul. So far, the show has not brought back Paula Abdul.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.