"Oh stop!" McDaniel balks at the suggestion, letting loose his hearty, sugar-laced cackle. A music lover since age five and the proud owner of over 3,000 albums, O'Donnell's accompanist isn't one for straining his Yamaha's ebony and ivory keys. "The music is never meant to call attention to itself," he tells TV Guide Online. "It's only to support the company [of a show]."
At home, however, McDaniel's dinner guests often do call attention to themselves with their impromptu performances. Fortunately, his neighbors — who've become accustomed to his star-studded shenanigans — never really complain. "I have a big loft," he laughs. "Can you imagine someone yelling for that Carol Burnett to shut up?!"
O'Donnell's name will be noticeably absent from busy McDaniel's datebook once she departs her desk in 2002. "I don't think I will go on without her," he predicts, expressing reluctance to work with a new host. "I have had a taste of the best, and there is a lot more that I want to do."
His ambitions include his first solo effort, John McDaniel at the Piano: Broadway. "It was so hard," he says of assembling the CD's 15 tracks, which include songs from Titanic, The Lion King, and Annie Get Your Gun. "I could put out 80 CDs and still have music left over."