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  "I just lost 20 pounds and ..."
David Foster picks up the cheque.
  Sharon Dunn,
National Post

'Do you want to watch a little TV?" legendary music man David Foster asks, putting his feet up on the coffee table as he picks up the remote.

I am in Foster's suite at the Four Seasons Hotel for lunch; he is in Toronto being honoured by both the Canadian Walk of Fame and the Royal Conservatory.

"How about The View?" he asks politely.

I tell him The View will be fine, but David Foster a couch potato? Who'd have thought?

"Are you hungry?" he asks.

"Not really."

"Me neither," he says. "I just lost 20 pounds and I'm really happy about it and I don't want to eat any junk -- no bread, pasta, butter or dessert for four months, so it doesn't leave too much, does it?" he laughs. "But I do have sugar in my coffee."

The ageless 52-year-old Foster continues: "I hardly drink, and I work out. So, if you don't mind, I'm going to hold off on lunch for as long as I can."

(Thank God I've already eaten.)

"You know, your wife did better with you than with Elvis," I tell him. (Foster is married to Elvis Presley's former girlfriend Linda Thompson.)

"I wasn't an Elvis fan," he replies. "If it had been Paul McCartney, I'd be on her every day, you know -- what was he like and all that. But I have grown to appreciate Presley's music."

When Foster mentions he's interested in becoming premier of British Columbia, I say, "Are you out of your mind?"

"Maybe," he laughs. "Gordon Campbell seems to be having a hard time lately, but I'd love to come home to B.C."

For the moment, though, Foster has something else on his mind. "A protege of mine is on The View today," he says.

Aha! So there's a reason we're watching TV.

"His name is Josh Groban, a kid I found when he was 17 years old [Groban is now 21]. I just made his album. It's platinum in four months with no radio play, no tour, no video. He's phenomenal. He'll probably sell 50,000 albums from The View today. Every time he goes on TV, people go crazy."

Soon The View's Meredith Vieira is introducing Groban. "Excuse me," says Foster politely as Josh takes to the stage amid wild applause and shouts, his voice making the TV studio sound like Carnegie Hall.

"That's pretty good for live," marvels Foster, humming along with the TV and conducting his protege through the screen.

"What kind of pants is he wearing?" Foster asks, like a worried manager.

"His hair's a problem -- all flat on top," I say, getting into the act.

"The girls love his hair," Foster says dismissively, not taking his eyes off the screen. "Can he hit this note? ... Yup. Now hang on to this note, bud. Great.

"This guy's gotten so polished," Foster says enthusiastically.

Groban also appeared on the finale of Ally McBeal. The response was so strong (8,000 e-mails) that he has been asked to return for the holiday episode of Ally McBeal airing Dec. 10.

"I write all his music," Foster brags, proud as a father.

Foster has four daughters. "I think the key with kids is not giving them too much," he says.

He continues. "Remember when Roberto Benigni got his Oscar for Life Is Beautiful and he said, 'I want to thank my parents for the greatest gift of all: poverty.' He was right."

Foster, who lost his father when he was just 18, says, "My dad was a yard superintendent. We had no money, but my upbringing [in Victoria] was incredible. It's been 34 years since my dad died, and I just think about him all the time, every day.

"Over the last 20 years I've accumulated so much I've been able to take care of my mom and buy her the house."

But what about his children? "You mean your kids aren't driving around L.A. in Mercedes and Porsches?"

"Absolutely not," he insists. "My kids share a truck, and my plan is working. My 21-year-old, Sara, has her own show on MTV and she's host of Entertainment Tonight.

"She got it all herself," he adds proudly. "My kids have done very, very well."

I get up to go.

"So we'll pretend we had lunch, right?" Foster asks with a laugh.

"Right," I say. "But who paid?"

"I did," he says quickly, the perfect gentleman.

"I knew you would," I tell him appreciatively.

I love a man who insists on picking up the cheque.

  Last update: May 6, 2009
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