Donny & Marie ... and Roberta
June 12, 2008 · Updated 9:53 AM
"Marie is a little bit country. Donny is a little bit rock`nroll.And Roberta? Shes the one who books and prepares guests for the Osmond siblings talk show.Port Orchard native Roberta Christensen, a 1991 graduate of South Kitsap High School, is the associate producer of the Los Angeles-based The Donny and Marie Show. Christensen describes the show as Ed Sullivan meets Johnny Carson, with entertainment by the singers and a focus on younger, newer artists that are up-and-coming.Hired away from the Leeza talk show in June, Christensens first impression of the toothy twosome was that they were real. Theyre like everyday people, even though theyve grown up in the spotlight, she said. Marie, she notes, even does her own laundry.Christensen started out in front of and behind the spotlights at South Kitsap High School, where she peformed in productions of Harvey, Our Town and The Crucible. She was a member of the schools prestigious Acting Ensemble, and toured Germany as a member of the group.After graduating in 1991, Christensen enrolled in the technical theater program at the Cornish Institute in Seattle. Except for a memorable performance as teacher Annie Sullivan in the Performing Arts Guild of South Kitsaps production of The Miracle Worker in 1993, she was now focusing all her creative energy from off stage.Christensen earned a degree in performance production from Cornish in 1995, and then spent a year as a free-lance light and set designer for both fringe and mainstream Seattle theater companies. She packed her bags in September 1996 and headed for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.I was bound and determined to do something ... I needed to be involved in it, she said.Her first jobs were painting scenery for television and films, and for the Disney theme ride Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. She also worked as an assistant and office manager for a talent agency, where she met the casting directors.Christensen then served as the assistant to actor Dom Deluise while he filmed the straight-to-video movie, The Godson. While she sees the Mafia parody as the worst film ever, she adored Deluise.Hes so humble and down-to-earth and kind, she said.Driving Deluise home from the set at 1 a.m., the actor asked her to stop to get some ice cream. Instead, the two sat down for a seven-course Chinese meal that lasted until 3:30 a.m. The actor spent the meal asking his assistant about her life.Then came what Christensen called her TV boot camp, as a go-fer and then associate producer for a local Los Angeles program called The Live Show. Then the talk show Leeza beckoned. As a researcher, Christensen looked for intriguing stories and helped book guests -- like the man who suffered whiplashed when he was smacked by the breasts of a stripper sporting a 69HH chest. The topics were your off-beat, crazy kinds of stories.It was definitely a learning experience ... I polished my skills, she said.Last June, Christensen was called by the producers of The Donny and Marie Show. She was hired as associate producer before the shows summer hiatus, spent two months back home in Port Orchard, and joined the show in early August.Christensen works from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. five days a week, coming up with story ideas, putting together clips and booking guests. She meets with the guests for pre-interviews before the shows.The Osmond siblings occasionally will tell the producers stories or guests that interest them, but for the most part, We tell them what theyre doing, Christensen said.Donny and Marie are very conversational, and host an entertaining show without hard-core gossip, Christensen said. They also appreciate their staffs hard work, she said.Christensens mother Patty works at the Washington Veterans Home at Retsil, and makes sure the television sets are tuned to The Donny and Marie Show at 11 a.m. on King-5 TV. The veterans enjoy the show much more than Leeza, Patty said.Im very proud of her, said her mother.Christensen is homesick for Port Orchard, and said she misses the trees, the rain, the changing of the seasons. People are friendlier in Washington, she said.L.A. gets so surreal because everything is a big movie set ... Money, stars -- you have to put your feet back on the ground, she said.Christensens dream job is to write and produce television and film for children, perhaps on the Nickelodeon network.So does the insider have any dirt on the excruciatingly-wholesome Donny and Marie?I dont know if theres dirt to be found."