Crazy — but hey, that’s how it goes: MTV could shell out $20 million over two seasons to keep Ozzy Osbourne and his family on board as stars of the cabler’s smash hit reality comedy.
When the deal is finalized, it would represent the largest talent payday ever for a cable series. It’s also a huge raise for the Osbournes, who pulled down a mere $200,000 for the first 10-episode season of the monstrously successful skein.
Even more coin could be in the works for America’s favorite dysfunctional family via backend revenue and profits from merchandising and marketing related to the show. Sony Music, for example, is already prepping a soundtrack album for the series that will feature daughter Kelly Osbourne covering Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.”
Pact has been in the works since last month, when the Osbournes signed with Endeavor to help them negotiate a new deal with MTV (Daily Variety, April 15.)
Specifics of the agreement, which has not yet been signed, are being kept under wraps. What’s more, the exact dollar amount MTV ultimately pays for the show could vary based upon its success in a second season.
The deal now under discussion guarantees MTV a second batch of episodes of “The Osbournes,” with an option for a third. If for some reason MTV chose not to go forward with a third season, the net’s financial commitment to the family would obviously be reduced.
While the dollar figures being discussed are huge, MTV would get a lot for its money. It’s expected any deal would allow MTV to play each episode of “The Osbournes” dozens of times — as opposed to three or four runs for a broadcast network series.
The Osbournes’ reps didn’t return calls seeking comment. An MTV spokeswoman confirmed negotiations were ongoing, but would not discuss financial terms or other aspects of any potential pact.
“Because there is no deal, any numbers or facts reported are unreliable,” she said.
Reached late Thursday night, Sharon Osbourne said she and the family were excited about the prospect of returning for more seasons.
“We’re very happy about it,” she said. “A lot of thought went into this and we’re happy that we’re going to do another one, and that it’s going to be with MTV. They’ve become a part of our family as we’ve become a part of theirs.”
Osbourne also said that daughter Aimee Osbourne, who was not a part of the first season of “The Osbournes” may appear in a few episodes of a second season.
It’s hard to exaggerate just how successful “The Osbournes” has been — and how quickly it’s risen.
After bowing to MTV’s best-ever numbers for a series premiere, half-hour skein — which premieres new segs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. — has gone on to become basic cable’s most-watched series. Two weeks ago, skein hit a ratings high, attracting nearly 8 million viewers — a record aud for an episode of an MTV series.
“The Osbournes” is an even bigger draw among the younger demos MTV covets. Indeed, some episodes of the series have pulled in larger numbers of young viewers than any programming on some of the Big Six broadcast nets during a given week.
Skein has also given a huge boost to MTV’s reality vet “The Real World,” which leads into “The Osbournes” on Tuesday nights.
Meanwhile, the Osbournes themselves have become huge celebrities, surpassing even the fame Ozzy Osbourne had established as a rocker. Clan has been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, and this weekend, they’ll be Fox News Channel’s guests of honor at the annual White House Correspondents Assn. dinner.