Olivia Newton-John turns on the “privacy please” sign during the premiere of Sordid Lives: The Series held at New World Stages in NYC. The event benefits The Trevor Project, which is the nation’s only 24-hour suicide prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth.
Olivia plays an ex-con in the 12-part series about the dysfunctional, not-always-pretty side of Southern family life. She performs five original songs written for the show, which debuts tonight on LOGO.
Earlier in the day, I am fortunate enough to spend the morning with the Grease icon, which is awesome considering she was a huge influence on me growing up. Her sister, Rona, is there too. Wow!
On one family vacation, I visited her store, Koala Blue, which was featured in – yes! – Barbie magazine. I totally remember being a super-duper young kid reading the tabloid headlines in line at the grocery store, and sassing back to my parents that because Olivia lived with her boyfriend-at-the-time Matt Lattanzi, whom she later married and divorced, I could do the same when I grew up. I remember when her daughter Chloe was born, thinking how charmed her life would be.
In the present day, Olivia, 59, recently married John Easterling after enduring tragic heartbreak when longtime boyfriend Patrick McDermott went missing in 2005. Tonight, I follow up by asking her the biggest lesson she’s learned in love.
“The biggest lesson?!” she gasps in her lilting Australian accent. “Wow. I don’t know how to answer that. That’s really a personal question. I don’t mean that in a rude way. But I think that’s too personal.”
Leave it to Olivia to dismiss prying questions gracefully. No wonder she’s such a star.
What was it like working with Rue McClanahan on this project?
“She’s an amazing actress, and if she hadn’t been such a lovely person, I would’ve been terrified,” Olivia says. “She made me very comfortable and I learned a lot from her. I’ve done movies, but I’m not a trained actress in any way. I learned a lot from just being with her. It was great.”
Up next is the show’s pregnant Caroline Rhea, who is told by a reporter that she’s a having a girl because her face is fuller and her ankles are swollen. Never missing a beat, Caroline reacts in mock shock. “Swollen? They have cleavage. I have movie star feet but the movie star is Shrek.”
Speaking of pregnancy, here’s Allison Janney, who plays the mom in Oscar-nominated pregnancy comedy Juno. Why does she think young pregnancies are becoming a Hollywood phenomenon?
“Maybe it’s a backlash to all the women waiting thinking they can have it all, and waiting until they’re in their late 40s and going ‘wait, you mean it’s not easy to do it then?’ So they figure ‘I’d better do it now.’”
Catch Sordid Lives: The Series tonight at 10 pm on LOGO.