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Donny, Marie and NieNie: Mormons on national TV

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 2:30 p.m. MDT

Earlier in their careers, if you had asked Donny and Marie Osmond where they thought they would be in 40 years, they never would have guessed it would be on the stage at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas preparing for their duo act.

That was the question that fueled Piers Morgan, a weekday CNN talk show host, to sit down with the singing siblings Monday evening on the Flamingo stage to ask about their experiences in and outside the entertainment business.

“(When) you think about a career, especially being a woman, in the entertainment business, you’re lucky to get seven or eight years,” Marie said in the exclusive Piers Morgan Tonight interview. “We’re going on 48 years now. We’re both so grateful.”

The Osmonds and Stephanie "NieNie" Nielson, all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were featured on national television programs this week.

The Osmond duo credited much of their success to the relationship they’ve built as siblings and performers, but they also said sticking to the traditional values of entertainment has helped them be a staying force in the business.

“You can throw as much money as you want at a show,” Donny said. “But you got to walk out with people saying, ‘I know a little bit more about Donny.' A lot of people leave out the heart and soul.”

Morgan then turned to Marie's recent wedding to her first husband and asked why the second time is different from the first.

“I think we were too young,” she said. “The world was watching us under a microscope. The thing I find fascinating about now is that he’s so sweet, and he still is the core of who I fell in love with.”

Marie and her husband, Stephen Craig, remarried May 4, a date picked because it was the birthday of both her son Michael, who died a year ago, and her mother.

“It was chosen because that was a great day," Marie said, adding that the pain she feels from the loss has been a daily struggle. "That’s the day he was born, and he was a wonderful, wonderful gift. It doesn’t heal. God gives you respites, just little breathers. I feel (Michael), and I felt him there that day.”

After decades in the entertainment industry, the Osmond siblings are happy with where their fame has taken them while noting that a lot of their success and consistency over the years stems from living healthy lifestyles.

Morgan asked Donny if he would take the road to fame again given the chance to go back to the brink of stardom. He straightforwardly replied yes, but asked up-and-coming stars like Justin Bieber to take caution in their careers.

“I look at these experiences that I’ve gone through as a teeny bopper, and I look at Justin Bieber and my heart breaks for him because I know what he’s going to go through, and he knows what he’s going to go through,” Donny said. “That kind of success at that age can really bite you in the shorts. Never give up on yourself.”

With the recent release of their first studio album in 30 years, Donny and Marie are unsure of what the future holds for their careers. They don’t know how much longer they’ll be performing in Las Vegas, but changing with the industry seems to have always been one of their strengths.

“There are all kinds of opportunities,” Donny said. “What’s different about now than in the '70s is that things are apt to change quickly. They can change on a dime. So you don’t block the future too far in advance.”

Nielson and her husband, Christian, were featured in a segment on ABC's 20/20. The couple and a flight instructor were in a fiery airplane crash in St. Johns, Ariz., in 2008. Now, almost three years later, NieNie and her family are learning to cope with how the crash has changed their lives.

Nielson was also the subject of a Mormon Messages video.

Caitlin is a feature writer at the Deseret News and a journalism student at Brigham Young University.

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