It seems that Britain, like the United States, has fallen under the spell of the nuthouse antics of surely the world's most dysfunctional family, the Osbournes. But what do you know? It now seems that at least two of the zaniest scenes in the first series, now showing on Channel 4, were set up by its MTV producers.
The not-so-startling claim was made yesterday by the teenage children of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne on America's ABC Television network. Jack and Kelly Osbourne revealed that an episode featuring a family meeting that led to a row and another when a dog therapist was called in were both a fix.
"The most fake thing about that show was the family meeting, because that was an MTV idea," asserted 18-year-old Kelly. With brother Jack, 17, at her side, she went on: "The dog and the dog therapist, that was an MTV thing".
The remarks, made just the morning after American viewers caught the first episode of the second series of The Osbournes, did not sit well either with MTV or with the old rocker himself. "Nothing is ever scripted or planned on The Osbournes," countered a publicist for the former Black Sabbath frontman. "You could not stage anything with that family. That is the beauty of the show," added a spokesman for MTV.
As it happens, the second series is set to be less madcap than the first, largely because the circumstances of the family have changed since they first burst on to American screens and became an instant ratings hit. The Osbournes now find themselves catapulted into mega-celebrity. In one episode, for example, mum and dad are filmed attending the White House correspondents dinner. Back home, Jack turns a hose on fans who lurk on the Osbournes' front lawn, longing for a peek at the now-famous family and their ever-growing menagerie of dogs and cats. And Kelly rehearses for the MTV Movie Awards, where she will perform her cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," the first single off her new album, which comes out on Tuesday.
"Things are kind of like so good right now," Sharon says as the episode ends, adding prophetically: "Everything is really great for us, that I think something's going to come and like, knock us on the chin."
And sure enough, the tone changes from episode two when fans are introduced to the real-life medical drama of Sharon, 50, who a few months ago, just as the success of first series was becoming apparent, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She is characteristically practical in discussing the disease, and even invites MTV's cameras along for her first chemotherapy treatment.
Ozzy is filmed trying to cope with the reality of his wife's illness during his summer Ozzfest tour, boozing backstage and eventually suffering an emotional collapse. "My heart was breaking every night I was on stage," he confesses.
Twenty episodes are planned for the second season, which is still being shot. Ten will be screened now, with the other 10 scheduled for next year.
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