HOLLYWOOD — “The Osbournes” is now officially set to return to MTV next fall — but just how much coin the cabler will lay out for the monstrously successful reality laffer remains open to interpretation.
MTV confirmed Wednesday it has ordered 20 new episodes of the skein, which has generated whammo Nielsen numbers by chronicling the mundane misadventures of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, wife Sharon and kids Jack and Kelly (Daily Variety, May 3.)
Numerous industry insiders familiar with the talks said MTV will shell out nearly $20 million for the rights to the new bunch of episodes. MTV prexy Van Tofler disputes that figure, however.
“We don’t get into specifics about contracts, and I hope the Osbournes and MTV both get really rich with this deal,” he told Daily Variety, “but the number that’s out there is grossly inflated.”
Tofler did confirm the new pact “is not traditional” in structure.
“It’s a global deal that involves participation (of the Osbournes) in all ancillary revenue (related to the show),” he said. Tofler also confirmed MTV would have “more than” 60 runs of each half-hour seg of “The Osbournes.”
By contrast, broadcast nets usually get between two and four runs of each episode. As a result, whatever amount MTV is paying the Osbournes, the net is still getting a relative bargain for a show that at its peak this spring was drawing more adults 18-34 than many network shows.
Sharon Osbourne told Daily Variety earlier this month she and her family were looking forward to filming more episodes of “The Osbournes.”
“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.”
While “The Osbournes” has drawn critical raves equal to its high ratings, a few observers are already raising the question of just how long the skein can remain a pop culture phenom. Some wonder if the novelty of the series will wear off or if the Osbournes themselves will be changed by the added scrutiny the show’s success has brought.
Tofler said MTV is trying to maintain realistic expectations.
“I don’t think we ever go into any show thinking we’ll have the next ‘Seinfeld,’ ” he said. “Things burn brightly and quickly on MTV. We always reinvent our series and genres. We’re thinking about what comes next after ‘The Osbournes’ right now.”
MTV has already been pitched numerous “Osbournes” rip-offs, but Tofler said the net has no plans to bite.
“We know you can’t replicate ‘The Osbournes,’ and we won’t even try,” he said. “We’ll leave that to others.”
P.Diddy and Brandy
Net is likely to announce a new reality skein with rapper/mogul P.Diddy in the next few weeks, but Tofler said it wouldn’t be anything like “The Osbournes.” MTV also has had conversations with R&B diva Brandy about a possible show, but it would not follow the singer 24/7 the way “The Osbournes” are monitored.
New segs of “The Osbournes” will begin airing this fall, with several original Osbourne-themed specs slated to premiere during the summer.
MTV has continued filming the family during the last few months, following them to major events such as their recent appearance at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner. Summer specs could include highlights of that event along with footage from Osbourne’s Ozzfest festival tour and what the cabler calls “a very special dinner with the Osbournes.”