Well, it happened again. A celebrity called and I didn't believe he was who he was. So I made an idiot of myself . . . something I'm getting better at with age.
The last time this happened was when Sandra Bullock called during the Sundance Film Festival and asked me to call her "Sandy." Because I had been told the interview wouldn't happen, I thought the call was a prank. It also happened with Robert Redford - twice.This time it was Donny Osmond - calling out of the blue. And since I had been teased by friends about the Osmond columns I wrote late last year, I was sure this was someone being a wiseacre. (One friend in particular is quite good at doing celebrity voices.)
"Hi, this is Donny Osmond," the familiar-sounding voice said.
"Yeah, right!" I responded, probably a bit surly.
The Donny Osmond voice laughed. "I know, I get that a lot." And he immediately launched into a story about the time he phoned a radio station for an interview but the receptionist had not been advised he was calling. "Hi, this is Donny Osmond," he said. The receptionist replied, "Sure, and I'm Barbra Streisand," as she hung up the phone.
At least I wasn't that rude. But I also wasn't 100 percent convinced. I was never quite sure that Donny Osmond really called until we met face to face. And even then it seemed a bit surreal.
Anyway, he called. And this is the story of "My Dinner With Donny":
Osmond said someone told him about the columns I had written, and he wanted to show me that he's not such a bad guy. "I never said you were a bad guy," I responded, explaining that I had simply chided him for the Rosie O'Donnell debacle. (He made a joke about her weight during the first week of her daytime talk show.) "Yeah, she really got me for that," he said. Then I added that in a later column, after O'Donnell had Osmond on her Christmas show, I said that if she could forgive him, I should, too.
All of which was intended as tongue-in-cheek, of course. Like he cares what a local critic thinks.
Then again, maybe he does. "Let's go to lunch," he said. "Oh, that's not necessary, but thanks," I replied, figuring he was just being polite. But he insisted.
Now to me, lunch means noon. But to Donny Osmond, lunch means 5:30 p.m., between shows at Kingsbury Hall, where he's starring in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
So we made a date. And a few days later, as I headed up the hill to Kingsbury Hall, a nagging doubt dogged me. Was my voice-imitating friend sitting in a car somewhere, videotaping my knock on the stage door, ready to leap out at any moment and scream, "Sucker!"
Instead, I was escorted to Osmond's dressing room, where I shook hands with him - and with his (very tall) nephew/understudy David (a student at Brigham Young University who is staying in Provo with his uncle).
Osmond suggested Einstein Bros. Bagels down the street. We both had something light and sat talking for about an hour, at which point I figured he was probably getting anxious to return to the theater. But he kept me another 45 minutes.
It was part interview, part small talk, part domestic discussion and part therapy session. We talked about "Joseph," about his upcoming "Donny & Marie" TV talk show, about his image, about his family, about turning 40 (him, not me) . . . it was a unique experience.
Plenty of customers came in and out of the shop, but no one bothered him. Those who sat around us stared and whispered, but Osmond seemed oblivious and concentrated on our conversation.
Yes, if his intent was to convince me he's "not such a bad guy," it worked. He does seem like a nice guy.
When we parted, he said we should do it again sometime - and he was quickly off to the stage door, where he greeted a group of children who are in the show, joking and playing with them.
I don't expect we'll do it again, but my friends are having a field day with all of this. So far I've been invited to lunch by Michael Jackson, Adam Sandler and Clint Eastwood.
And they're all waiting in a car with a video camera, hoping I'll fall for it.