Long before Marky Mark, NKOTB, Blue Bloods and Oscar nominations, the Wahlberg brothers, and all nine siblings, were enjoying family dinners in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. And they still are — with the cameras rolling on A&E's The Wahlburgers (premiering Wed. Jan 22, 10:30/9:30c), which serves up a candid look into the family burger restaurant, lead by older brother, chef Paul. Donnie gives us the dish.
TV Guide Magazine: You and your brother have been in the spotlight since your teenage years. Why do a reality show?
Donnie Wahlberg: Our restaurant is the right framework for a reality show. It's not about our life. It's about a slice of our life. It's fun for the world to get a chance to see where our perceived talent came from — it's all from our mother.
TV Guide Magazine: The series really shows your hometown roots. You and Mark are worldwide celebrities, but seem to be regular guys.
Wahlberg: We have a lot of fun as a family. My brother Mark makes me laugh more than anyone on the planet, and it's always been that way, since we were little kids.
TV Guide Magazine: What keeps you so grounded?
Wahlberg: Our parents never subscribed to the fame and the celebrity. It makes it much easier to stay true, honest and down-to-earth. If I come over to [my mom's] house and leave a dish out, she's going to give me a hard time.
TV Guide Magazine: On the show, you and your brothers compete to be mom's favorite child. Will that ever end?
Wahlberg: It's already ended, as far as I'm concerned. I was her favorite the day I was born. When she looked into my eyes, it was a done deal.
TV Guide Magazine: Other than your mom, Alma, the breakout star is your brother Paul, who's the head chef at Wahlburgers. Mark says that he's the most talented in the family. What does he mean by that?
Wahlberg: All of our brothers have a lot of talent. Paul is the most talented cook in the family. Paul is the most generous Wahlberg. The undercurrent in every episode is that Paul is fighting to continue to put love into everything that he does as a chef.
TV Guide Magazine: What's your function in the business?
Wahlberg: There are three people in this equation — Paul who would only like to have one Wahlburgers in Hingham, Mass.; Mark who would like to open one on Jupiter next week; and me. I translate the Hollywood blockbuster language into the simple down home cooking speak. I'm the perfect bridge between the two of them.
TV Guide Magazine: What exactly is Mark's role with the restaurant?
Wahlberg: Mark's role with the restaurant is probably worldwide domination.
TV Guide Magazine: So will Wahlburgers become a big franchise?
Wahlberg: Maybe just New York and L.A. But not Jupiter.
TV Guide Magazine: We meet your childhood friends, including the original Johnny "Drama," and your girlfriend, Jenny McCarthy, who has a burger named after her!
Wahlberg: Yeah! She's getting a lot of stamps of approval, as she should. She's a wonderful lady. She's awesome.
TV Guide Magazine: You also have a burger named after you, the Double D. What's your perfect burger?
Wahlberg: My perfect burger is definitely available at Wahlburgers — I think it's yet to be invented though. Who am I kidding? It's a Donnie burger smushed up with a Jenny burger!