Trust Sharon Osbourne to tell it like it is.
The driving force behind the Osbourne TV machine, Sharon was in L.A. earlier this year at a TV critics press tour party along with her rocker hubby Ozzy and Jack and Kelly, the two children they dragged before the cameras on their old reality show. (A third daughter, Aimee, stays out of the TV loop.) They were there to promote Osbournes Reloaded, a rude, crude comedy/variety series of specials the first of which premiered tonight on Fox. I wrote about it last week for The Canadian Press; much of what appears here was in that story.
I've interviewed all the Osbournes over the years and always enjoy talking to them, even Ozzy, who is scary to transcribe (although he's less scrambled and easier to comprehend now than he was five or six years ago.) They're all straight shooters and they're friendly folk one-on-one.
Sharon comes with an added bonus: the gift of profanity. I asked what she thought of NBC’s announcement that Jay Leno will be moving to a 10 p.m. prime time slot starting in August. Will the Osbournes be appearing on that show?
“Fuck no!” she said without hesitation. “He’s always been a friend of ours, but then Ozzy went and performed on Jimmy Kimmel, who we loved, and Jay banned us ever since.”
Osbourne’s candid comments brought back stories of hard ball booking tactics between late night talk show rivals. That kind of Hollywood brinkmanship seems to have died down lately, especially after and during last year’s writers strike, when Leno and Kimmel took turns appearing on each other’s show on the same night and seemed to form a bond. With all the changes in late night—Jimmy Fallon taking over Conan O’Brien’s slot, O’Brien moving to The Tonight Show in June—a truce seemed to be in effect.
Not so according to Osbourne. “That’s the way talk TV goes,” she says and she should know. The 56-year-old spent a year hosting her own daily syndicated talk show during the 2003-04 season. “People are like, 'You’re mine,' and when you go someplace else, they get upset,” she says. “We’re all banned from [Leno’s] show.”
As it turns out, there were no Osbourne bookings on Leno's Tonight Show this week. (Perhaps Leno got a sneak peak at the special, which was a vulgar mess.) Instead, all four Osbournes guested on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight with Jack and Kelly appearing on NBC's Last Call with Carson Daly. Tuesday morning, Sharon and Ozzy went to New York to guest on Live with Regis & Kelly. Sharon and Regis Philbin worked together on the first season of America's Got Talent.
Osbournes Reloaded is a rowdy mix of brash humour and outrageous studio audience antics. Unsuspecting audience members are blindfolded and wind up smooching grannies. The Little Osbournes—two eight year olds from England dressed up like Ozzy and Sharon—are shown going out to theatres and other public places where they start cursing and swearing. At one point, Ozzy turns a hose on the studio audience, soaking the front rows with white foam.
In other words, this isn't your mom and dad's Ed Sullivan Show.
Ozzy says he just goes along with what the rest of the family wants to do. "To be honest, I didn't know what I was getting myself into," he said at the same Fox press party. "I've been a rock and roller for 40 years."
Sharon admitted it was harder to get Jack and Kelly back in front of the cameras. "They did not want to do it at all," she says. "They were done with their apprenticeship with us."
Jack, however, says it is easier now that he's 23 and not a rebellious teen. "Before, I'd say I have math homework. Why do I have to be at a press convention?"
Since he shot to fame on the reality show, Jack has gone on to a few other TV projects, including Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie. The early fame took its toll as he battled drug and alcohol addictions, fighting them off during a stint in rehab. 'Ìt's very well known that I had my problems with drugs and alcohol," he says. "Time moves on and you grown up and figure out what's right for you as an individual."
He feels that, in the long run, growing up on TV sped up his maturity. "When you're getting dragged into bars at 16, who would turn that down?" he says, sounding not unlike his outspoken mother. "Maybe the Jonas brothers, but they're married to Jesus."