It wasn't just the world that Carnie Wilson kept in the dark about her January weight loss surgery — she didn't even tell her Wilson Phillips bandmates, Chynna Phillips and sister Wendy Wilson, until just before the procedure, her second in a matter of 13 years. And the aftermath of that bombshell was evident in the April 8 premiere episode of their TV Guide Channel reality show, "Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On." The pop trio had to cancel a tour date because Carnie was still recovering from the lap band surgery — and it was clearly frustrating to her fellow band members, especially Chynna. "Carnie actually waited a really long time before she broke the news to us that she was going to be getting the surgery," she tells omg!. "It took me by surprise, it was a little bit of a shock. Listen, I had to do 'Dancing With the Stars,' that kind of came out of nowhere, and they understood. I should have had a little more patience with Carnie."
Although the surgery created a snag in Wilson Phillips' busy schedule, at the end of the day the childhood friends rallied around Carnie, 43, and her decision to get her weight back on track, since regaining much of the 150 pounds she lost from her 1999 procedure. "They have seen me go up and down with emotions about this, up and down in weight, and they've always been supportive," the mom-of-two also tells omg!. "I think we all just want to be healthy. It's not just being overweight that's dangerous. Stress is dangerous. We all want to take care of ourselves, and we all don't want to get too stressed out. You know, we influence each other. I'm influenced. You know, Chynna does yoga between takes of whatever, Wendy's taking walks every day. So it's good, it rubs off on me." Still, there is one habit Carnie says she is not going to pick up while on tour. Health-conscious Chynna's favorite: fermented vegetables. "[They] are literally … gag!"
Wilson Phillips is not only riding high on the success of their reality show — which tripled the average female audience for TV Guide with 500,000 viewers for its first episode — but also their fifth album, Dedicated, a sort of greatest hits collection of their famous parents' songs. In case you've been living under a rock, Carnie and Wendy's dad is Beach Boys' mastermind, Brian Wilson, and Chynna's parents, John and Michelle Phillips, were one-half of the '60s folk-pop group, The Mamas & the Papas. And the ladies, whose biggest hit was 1990's "Hold On," are honoring their rock royalty roots on Dedicated, which features their take on such classics as "California Dreamin'," "God Only Knows," "In My Room," and "Monday, Monday."
But their reviews from their biggest critics — their parents — were initially mixed. While Brian Wilson hasn't heard the entire album yet, Carnie did play a few cuts for her dad, which she describes as a "heartwarming" experience. "He just sat in his chair the whole time with his eyes closed, and he was taken aback," she says. "He adores it." Chynna, 44, who has three children with actor Billy Baldwin (yes, Alec's brother), had a tougher time convincing her mother, the only surviving member of The Mamas & the Papas, that they were not going to mess up her legacy. "I had waited until we were about three-quarters of the way done with the record before I told my mom," she explains. "I knew that she would be just a little leery of the whole thing. You know, she's so protective of The Mamas & the Papas music, so I waited. She ended up coming up to Santa Barbara, and I started playing her the record. I played her song one, and she was kind of just like 'Uh-huh…' Then I played her song two, she listened. Then I played her 'Dedicated to the One I Love' and about halfway through the song, she just face-planted into her hand, and is just in a puddle of tears, mascara down her face. I think a lot of it had to do with the sentiment that [late The Mamas & the Papas singer Cass Elliot's daughter] Owen Elliot Kugell sang on that particular track and my mom and Cass Elliot were the best of friends. My mom was very moved by that."
The group is quick to point out that they're not trying to duplicate their parents' legacies with Dedicated. "We're not out to top The Mamas & the Papas or the Beach Boys," says Wendy, 42, now a mom of four. "We're just out to put our own spin on it, our own signature. It's just celebrating our heritage."
As for their reality show, Wilson Phillips sees it as the perfect marketing tool for Dedicated. "A lot of people have busy lives," says Carnie. "They get home from work and they have their televisions, and they go, 'Oh my gosh, Wilson Phillips has a TV show and a new album! I didn't know that.' I think it's very good for this day and age." Her sister Wendy adds, "We had been talking about the idea of TV show for years now. At meetings for the show, people didn't see us for who we were. It wasn't about the music, it was more about the drama …" And, according to Chynna, their celebrity friends. Apparently, a producer once asked, "'Do you think you could get Alec to come in?'" shares Chynna. "What?! Oh yeah, we'll just have Alec join the cast." All kidding aside, she notes that the trio is proud of the series. "My mom says it's nice because you don't feel like you have to take a shower after the show, it's not dirty. It's little more wholesome." But, as Carnie reminds her, "I do think I dropped the f-bomb like 20 times. I was bleeped every few minutes."
"Hold On" is of course not just the name of their show, it's also the title of their first-ever hit song. And even though they've easily performed the track thousands of times, the group has happily embraced it — and they say they honestly "never" tire of singing it, just as they did at the end of the 2011 Kristen Wiig-Maya Rudolph comedy, "Bridesmaids." They don't even change up the arrangement of the song during live shows! "People want to hear it the way it was," says Chynna. "If you go to a concert, and someone plays your favorite song way too slow or changes up the melody, you're like, 'Yo, yo, yo, I paid $25 for this!' You want to hear it the way you know it because that's what's sentimental to you. So we make sure we give our fans what they want to hear."
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