Sonny and Cher. Donny and Marie. Ozzy and Sharon?
Fox has given a six-episode order to an hourlong variety show hosted by Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne and their kids, Jack and Kelly. Untitled skein from FremantleMedia North America will be exec produced by James Sunderland, an exec producer on Fremantle’s NBC series “America’s Got Talent,” on which Sharon serves as a judge.
Mike Darnell, Fox’s prexy of alternative programming, envisions the show as something of a throwback to the heyday of variety skeins such as CBS’ 1970s staple “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” and ABC’s “Donny and Marie.”
The plan is to blend musical perfs by the Osbournes and others with comedy sketches as well as gameshow, audience participation and out-of-studio taped elements. One idea being kicked around is for a segment dubbed “The Osbournes Meet the Osbournes,” in which Ozzy and Co. spend time with another Osbourne clan, Darnell said.
“We’ve been talking about how to renew the variety show concept and make it feel new for years now,” Darnell said. Deal came together quickly in the past two weeks as Fremantle circulated a DVD to major nets with comedy bits featuring the family and other prototype elements. Multiple nets bid on the show, but it landed at Fox in part because Sharon Osbourne and Darnell hit it off and had similar visions for the show.
Darnell hopes to launch the series, which will be shot in Los Angeles, with a Christmas special. The emphasis on music and performance would seem to make the show a natural companion for “American Idol,” but Darnell said any skedding talk was premature.
Eugene Young, chief creative officer for FremantleMedia North America, said the show would “tap into what the Osbournes do best, which is be themselves.”
Some segments will include the former Black Sabbath frontman “skewering pop culture,” while others will “tap into the sibling rivalry” between 23-year-old Kelly and 22-year-old Jack, Young said.
Young noted the family’s collective TV experience makes them well qualified for hosting duties. The Osbournes kickstarted cable’s trend toward celeb-centric reality shows with “The Osbournes,” which ran on MTV from 2002-05. Sharon Osbourne is a mainstay of British TV talk and variety shows, and she hosted a syndie daytime yakker in the U.S. for Telepictures Prods. in 2003-04.
Jack, meanwhile, is in his second season as host of the U.K. show “Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie.”