Marie Osmond

Who would have thought that, a quarter of a century after her last foray into prime time was a big-time bomb, Marie Osmond would be the hottest thing on TV?

Yet there she is — arguably the biggest star on arguably TV's biggest show at the moment, "Dancing With the Stars."

You know she's rearrived because Osmond's life has once again become fodder for everything from "Entertainment Tonight" to "Today" to "Larry King Live."

The improbably popular "Dancing With the Stars" is such a silly concept it's sort of a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction phenomenon — famous people compete at ballroom dancing. And those famous people are, for the most part, not so famous anymore. Or they were never all that famous to begin with.

Osmond falls into the former category. Yes, she had a short-lived daytime talk show with her brother, Donny, but that was almost a decade ago.

As for prime-time TV, the "Donny & Marie" variety show folded up its tent in 1979. Her attempt at a solo show ("Marie") was quickly canceled in 1981.

Hey, by 1982 she was reduced to doing a guest appearance on "The Love Boat."

She got her first taste of prime-time competition shows last year as a judge on the short-lived, little-watched "Celebrity Duets." But, even when this season's "Dancing" cast was announced, nobody predicted she'd be the break-out star.

Osmond is fun. She's perky. She laughs a lot. She laughs at herself.

And heaven knows she's got the sympathy factor after fainting on air and then missing a show because of her father's death.

Viewers obviously like her. They've kept her on the show when the judges voted her last. She's proved that she's still a star.

Who would've thought?

WHEN YOU'RE a celebrity, your life is fair game. So Osmond shouldn't have been surprised when, during an appearance on "Larry King Live" last week, the host broke the news about her 16-year-old son being in rehab.

If she doesn't want to address that issue, she doesn't have to do interviews.

But it was tacky beyond belief for King to raise it. Celebrities are fair game — their children are not.

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