Osbournes head back to TV as variety show hosts
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his raucous family -- former stars of MTV -- are headed back to U.S. television as hosts of a prime-time variety hour in the works for the Fox network.
No precise air date has been set. But a spokesman for the News Corp-owned broadcaster said on Monday the show, featuring musical performances and comedy sketches, is planned for sometime in the upcoming 2008-2009 season.
Fox alternative programming president, Mike Darnell, told Daily Variety he hopes to launch the series with a Christmas special.
Envisioned as a throwback to variety classics hosted in the 1970s by Sonny and Cher and by Donny and Marie Osmond, the show will reunite Ozzy Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, with daughter Kelly, 23, and son Jack, 22, last seen together on the MTV reality show "The Osbournes."
The new series will be executive produced by James Sunderland, whose credits also include the NBC talent competition series "America's Got Talent," featuring Sharon Osbourne as one of the judges.
The studio behind the Osbournes' latest venture, FreemantleMedia North America, also is one of the production companies that makes both "America's Got Talent" and the Fox network's smash hit singing contest "American Idol."
A proposal for the yet-to-be titled show was pitched to all the major networks but landed at Fox in part because Sharon Osbourne and Darnell had similar visions for the series, Variety said. Fox has ordered six episodes so far.
"We've been talking about how to renew the variety show concept and make it feel new for years now," Darnell was quoted as saying.
Among the ideas being tossed around for the series are audience-participation segments, bits pre-taped outside the studio and a mini-game show, as well as musical performances by the Osbournes and guests. Another is a segment dubbed "The Osbournes Meet the Osbournes," in which Ozzy and his bunch would spend time with another family of the same name.
FreemantleMedia executive Eugene Young said the show "would tap into what the Osbournes do best, which is be themselves."
The family became overnight pop culture sensations several years ago on their expletive-filled but heavily bleeped reality series "The Osbournes," which premiered in March of 2002 and instantly became MTV's biggest hit.
The show's first season followed the daily exploits of the Black Sabbath singer in his off-stage role as a befuddled father puttering around his Beverly Hills house, forever cleaning up after his incontinent dogs, taking orders from his wife and sparring with their then-teenage kids.
The program took a more serious turn in its second season as the family coped with Sharon's cancer treatments and Jack's substance abuse rehabilitation. The third season saw Ozzy recover from a near-fatal all-terrain vehicle accident. The show left the airwaves in 2005 after its fourth season.
The Osbournes' eldest daughter, Aimee, did not appear on the MTV show and was not mentioned as a participant in the upcoming Fox series.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
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