Joey Fatone and family open up in People

10/16/2007 at 10:50 PM ET

Joeyfatone_0353_cbbSinging Bee host, Dancing With the Stars runner up, and former NSYNC-er Joey Fatone, 30, and his wife Kelly Baldwin Fatone, also 30, chat with People about their untraditional courtship, living in Florida, parenthood, and their daughter Briahna, 6 1/2.

Click below for the photos and interview highlights.

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Joey and Kelly have been together, off-and-on, for 14 years, and married for 3. They realize their courtship has been anything but traditional, but Joey says it works for them.

We did everything backward. We had a kid, we lived together, then we got married. We did everything completely reversed and it worked!

After getting together in high school, Joey and Kelly were 19 when NSYNC hit it big. With Joey known as the flirt of the group, Kelly remembers girls camping out on his parent’s front yard and throwing themselves at him on tour.

Meanwhile, I’d sit on the bus [laughing] and be like, ‘If they only knew you.’ It’s funny — people go, ‘Oh, my God, that girl’s all over him,’ and I’m like, ‘You know what? If it made her night, great. Doesn’t bother me.’ Either you’re a jealous person or you’re not. We’ve been together so long that I have an ‘open door’ policy. I say, ‘If something looks better to you, than there’s the door.’

Joey says Kelly’s approach worked — even when they did occasionally split, he never could go far.

[During our on-and-off years] I tried to see other people, but for some reason, the grass wasn’t greener on the other side of the fence. I’d come back and crawl on my knees with my tail between my legs. I enjoyed being with her.

We’ve been together 14 years, but we’ve broken up and gotten backtogether just like any couple does. Communication is the key. We don’tlet things get to our heads. We really talk.

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What they talk about most is their daughter and her happiness. Briahna is the center of their world. DWtS partner Kym Johnson observes,

Joey’s crazy in love with his little girl.

When NSYNC parted ways in 2002, Briahna had just celebrated her first birthday. For Joey, the end of his boy-band era meant that it was time to prioritize, and family came first. Kelly recalls,

Joey said, ‘I don’t get these memories back.’ The family rule on work was nothing where he left home for more than a week. If it was longer, we went with him.

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Between 2002 and 2004, work for Joey included stage runs with Rent and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as a role in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. By that time, Briahna, then 4, was wondering when her parents were going to star in a production of their own. Kelly explains,

She had been a flower girl and she was wondering what weddings were all about. We said, ‘When two people love each other, they get married,’ and she said, ‘Are you and Daddy married?’ And I said no. She said, ‘Don’t you love my dad? Why aren’t you married?’

Joey jokes that he had ‘been on the 10 year plan.’ However, he and Kelly finally tied the knot in 2004.

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Despite this, further confusion for Briahna ensued in early 2007, when her dad and partner Kym became fan favorites on Dancing With the Stars. Seeing Joey and his professional dancer perform romantic and sometimes sensual dances week after week, along with the tide of media attention, caused Briahna to ask some questions. Kelly recalls,

Everything was Joey and Kym, Joey and Kym. So Briahna was like, ‘Mom, is Kym going to be my stepmom?’ Once we explained the difference [between performance and real-life], she wasn’t worried.

Still, Briahna had a hard time with Joey’s work schedule, which was extremely intense throughout the competition. DWtS also marked the first time Kelly and Briahna did not have the option to stay with Joey the entire time — he ended up being on the show for four months, right in the middle of Briahna’s kindergarten year. Although they flew back and forth frequently, she and Kelly could not spend the entire time in LA.

She was crying three, four times a day for him. A couple of times, she said, ‘I want him to be kicked off the show so he can come home.’

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As soon as the school year ended, Kelly and Briahna packed up and spent the summer on the DWtS cross-country tour, which was a great solution for the family. Joey says,

We try to stay as close as we can together. I want them with me all the time. Fatherhood is really cool. It’s a great feeling.

According to Joey’s sister Janine, her brother isn’t the only ham in the family — Briahna is well on her way herself.

She’s her own character. The apple does not fall far from the tree!

Despite new options opening up for the family, with Joey now hosting The Singing Bee, Florida remains home for the Fatone clan. With Janine, brother Steve, nephew Declan, and parents Phyllis and Joe Fatone Sr. all close by, Joey can see no reason to pull up roots.

Look around — free babysitting!

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Source: People, October 22nd issue, p. 86-95

FILED UNDER: Kids , News

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Showing 10 comments

Anonymous on

Yeah, that open door policy must still be in effect because he still to this day cheats on that poor woman. I would never put up with that, child or no child, lifestyle or no lifestyle. He’s still an immature cad! Even his own daughter knows he’s prone to stray, it’s so sad that this “unconventional” family is actually previewed in a magazine.

FC on

I’ve never really noticed how much Briahna looks like her dad. Spare for the light hair, she is all her father to me. And I didn’t know that was how long he and his wife had been together, including the on-and-off phases they had. But they sound so normal, grounded, and extremely tight knit. I like that about them. 🙂

Ashley on

Thats funny I think she looks exactly like her mama except with Joey’s eyebrows =)

gianna on

she looks just like joey imo.

Sadie on

I think she looks identical to her mom…her facial features/structure/shape are all the exact same as her mom’s

Kris on

I had thought Mom and Dad had some similar facial features and seeing the comments maybe I was right. 🙂

Bella Mama on

what a beautiful family.. God Bless Them…

Morgan on

Really nice family. They seem very grounded. I hope they have more kids!

Lauren on

I love all the pics & the article is great.:)
They’re the best family. I hope they have more kids too.
Briahana look like both of the,more like her mom though.

Barb on

To the extremely impolite poster at the top- who misinterpreted his wife’s “open door policy” quote. It did not mean she has or wanted an open marriage- it meant that if he didn’t want to straighten up and mature (during height of the band success and before they got married) that he could WALK OUT THE OPEN DOOR (and stay out) anytime he wanted (and don’t let it hit him on the way out). So he got the message- got his act together (matured, etc), because he decided SHE was the one he wanted and he didn’t want to loose her- so he married her to seal the deal- and close the door.

She was saying that she didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want to be with her; she wasn’t going to trap him in a relationship with her just because they had a child. In fact she was saying the exact opposite of what that poster implied; she was saying that if he couldn’t settle down & commit to her- then he should walk out the door and leave. She wasn’t some gold digger who got pregnant by a “star” and then wanted to trap him into a lifetime relationship because of the baby. She was not going to stand for other women and partying etc from him – hence why they would be off and on so often for all those years- but of course she loved him- so she knew before (if) he grew up and was ready to make a true commitment (eventually marriage)she would have to leave him and give him the ultimatum that he was free to leave anytime he wanted (you know the whole set it free idea)- hoping he would wise up eventually- as he did- and it all worked out in the end.

And I’m not saying he’s perfect or an angel- what man is? No marriage is perfect or easy- and every marriage (and person) has flaws. It takes effort and hard work to make a marriage work- identifying flaws is essential in order to be able to work on them. To me it seems as if they were very candid in talking about the flaws in their marriage- which to me signifies success in marriage. But that anonymous poster who claimed-based on her own crazy misinterpretation- that their marriage was “open” (among other mean-spirited comments I won’t bother to repeat) seems to want to use that conclusion as a basis for publicly bashing, berating, and defaming his character.

I realize the comment was posted a very long time ago- but people still come here and read it- so I thought it should finally be addressed and not be allowed to just hang here in cyberspace unchallenged.

FYI & TMI Fatone’s season of DWtSs is now in re-runs on GSN- so I figure I’m probably not alone in doing a search on him. I was trying to figure out which woman sitting in the audience is his wife- they focus in on her & then they switch to a woman sitting just in front of her- and since the daughter wasn’t there I wasn’t sure which one was his wife- so curiosity got the best of me & I ended up here… as to why I spent so much time ranting about this issue- I have no idea why this got under my skin- just one of those things…. and I’m supposed to be doing something else so I’m procrastinating…