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He's a Little Bit DVD

22 Nov, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Donny Osmond

Donny Osmond, the man of many comebacks, is returning to the spotlight once again, this time on DVD.

Panacea Entertainment has cut a deal with R2 Entertainment to bring to DVD all 72 hours of the “Donny and Marie” show, the 1970s variety series that paired the singing idol with his kid sister.

The first installment, with nine hours of highlights, will be released in April and will be sold by R2 through both direct response and traditional retail. Osmond will personally host the direct-response campaign.

Osmond, 47, is in the midst of sifting through hours of programming from the show, which aired from 1976 through 1979 and was nominated for three Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe (Best TV Series, Musical/Comedy, 1977).

“I was just in the editing bay, and it was so much fun, going back and seeing all the guest stars we had on that show,” Osmond said. “We had Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Ron Howard and so many others.

“We had one skit in which we did The Wizard of Oz, and we had Lucille Ball playing the Tin Man and Ray Bolger, the original Scarecrow, playing himself.

“And I don't know how we pulled this off, but when the original Star Wars came out, George Lucas allowed us to use his characters, so we had my brothers dressed as Stormtroopers and Redd Foxx as Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Osmond said under the deal Panacea Entertainment CEO Eric Gardner brokered with R2, all 72 hours of “Donny and Marie” ultimately will come out on DVD.

“Initially, I didn't want them to come out — I wanted to do other things with my career — but after watching a few of the shows, I figured why not dust them off and show people what we did in the 1970s?,” Osmond said. “I kept all the audio masters, so what I'm doing now is remixing everything in surround sound.”

“Donny and Marie” is the latest variety show to be resurrected on DVD by R2 Entertainment, the entertainment division of Respond2 Companies, a marketing and advertising agency based in Portland, Ore.

Brant Berry, VP of R2, said he considers variety shows “a slice of pop culture.” The division was set up in 2002 after an initial direct-response foray with vintage “Tonight Show” episodes proved a big winner. The Ultimate Collection Starring Johnny Carson sold upwards of 2 million copies on VHS and DVD.

On its own, R2 has since released on DVD variety shows hosted by Sonny & Cher, Bob Hope, Tony Orlando and Dawn and the Captain & Tenille.

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