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Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne Prove That a Family Business Can Be Functional

Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne earned the following mention in Variety’s Music Mogul of the Year special. For more, including the cover story on Sean Combs, click here

For a couple who claim to be winding down professionally, multihyphenate businesswoman Sharon Osbourne and singer-husband Ozzy have signed up for arguably the biggest endeavor of their careers: taking on concert-venue behemoth AEG.

Sharon recently learned that AEG wouldn’t book Ozzy’s farewell tour at its O2 Arena in London unless he also played its Staples Center in L.A. (Central to the power play: AEG rival Live Nation produced Ozzy’s tour.) “There is no other 20,000-seater in London, so we want to play it,” explains Sharon, who for roughly 40 years has been the management brain behind Ozzy’s musical talents. “But some little dweeb behind a desk is going, ‘No! You have to play this building if you play that building.’” So the Osbournes filed an antitrust suit against AEG. “I don’t honestly know [if we’ll win]. I don’t care. You know what it is? ‘F— you! These artists are people. This is their life.’”

Sharon’s voice — confident, subversive, at times fire and brimstone — has been integral to the pair’s success. At a press event in February, for instance, she responded to a question about the tour’s stop in Israel by snapping: “I’m half a Heeb. We play where we want to play. That’s it.”

Elsewhere on Sharon’s résumé, she is an outspoken co-host of CBS’ “The Talk,” the hipper alternative to “The View” that, ratings-wise, is a thorn in the side of the ABC show. She’ll also return as a judge on Simon Cowell’s U.K. juggernaut “The X Factor.” And later this year, she and Ozzy will reboot “The Osbournes Podcast,” in which the family provides color commentary on current events.

“I was always the woman with the big mouth,” she says. “Coming up in the ’70s and the ’80s — especially the ’70s — it was cocaine city and hookers. That’s the way the industry was, especially in promotion. I was never in the boys’ club. So I [became] the woman with a big mouth they were all scared of. And I liked it that way.”

Famed for being the architect of Ozzy’s solo career, she created the multimillion-dollar-grossing Ozzfest after Lollapalooza balked at booking her husband. Recently, she breathed new life into the itinerant concert by leveraging Slipknot fans to create buzzy Ozzfest Meets Knotfest two-day shows ($3.1 million gross, according to Pollstar). And in a step away from music, she reinvented her and her husband as unconventional matriarch-patriarch in MTV’s runaway hit “The Osbournes” — which pioneered the lives-of-the-rich-and-famous genre of reality TV and pulled some 7.8 million viewers at its apex in 2002.

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne
CREDIT: Hsiao-Ron Cheng

Of course, hints of retirement actually mean she’ll channel her reserves of energy into other projects, such as a book about “infidelity and what it does to people,” which she’s shopping to publishers, and a film about her early courtship with Ozzy.

“It starts the day we meet and will focus on how our lives were totally different but very similar in ways: I was brought up by a powerful, successful father, ­— the late, famously tough Black Sabbath/Small Faces/ELO manager Don Arden — and Ozzy was brought up extremely poor and somewhat abused,” she says of the drama, currently in the scripting phase. “It’s definitely going to be a tearjerker. It’s not going to be a sex-and-drugs movie at all. Ozzy is so much more than that. I would hate to be a cliché.”

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