Ozzy Osbourne is more than just the most famous befuddled father in the world.
Before MTV turned his family into household names with the reality series “The Osbournes,” he helped invent heavy metal with his band Black Sabbath almost 40 years ago and went on to enjoy a huge solo career. Now, the “Prince of Darkness” is launching a new series on the music cable channel to remind people that he is a rock star first.
“Battle for Ozzfest,” premiering on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET, pits representatives of eight unsigned hard rock bands from across the United States against each other in a series of challenges designed to give one band the chance to grab a coveted spot on his annual Ozzfest tour next year.
In one episode, the contestants must bite the head off a bat, just as Osbourne once did.
In a recent interview at his Beverly Hills home, Osbourne, 55, said he thought the concept was “(expletive) stupid” when his 52-year-old wife and manager Sharon presented it to him, but now he’s a huge fan.
“It’s just to let people know that we’re not ’The Osbournes’ and I’m still active in my work as I have been for the last 37 years. Sharon’s still very active in the managerial side. We’re not just sitting in the house.”
Thanks to “The Osbournes,” most people probably know him as the stammering drug-addled dad who fills in coloring books as he tries to rein in his wayward children and misbehaving dogs.
No hanging aroundYet the love has shone through, and he says the show disabuses people of the notion that he “hangs upside-down from a beam in a Bavarian castle and chews bats all day long.”
Just in case people wonder whether the world really needs another reality show from the most over-exposed family in show business, the Osbournes say “the kids” are the stars of “Battle for Ozzfest.” Their main job is to fire one of the contestants at the end of each episode.
“The problem with this show is that when it’s time to let one go, I’m looking the other way,” Ozzy says. “I’m on their side. I think anyone who’s got the nerve and the desire to wanna be a rock ’n’ roller, I know what that feeling is like.”
Production is about three-quarters of the way through, and the winner will be announced in January. By the time Ozzfest kicks off its 10th year in June, the band will have an album in stores courtesy of Sanctuary Records, Sharon said.
The fourth and final season of “The Osbournes” is tentatively scheduled to premiere on MTV in the first quarter. In previous episodes, Ozzy and Sharon both diced with death --a motorbike accident and colon cancer, respectively. Two of their children, Kelly and Jack, went into rehab.
One issue the parents now face is the empty-nest syndrome, with their children together venturing into the world as young adults. (Ozzy also has two children from a previous marriage.)
“We all really love each other, and we’re like any other family,” Ozzy says. “We have our problems, and we try with the grace of God to get through them.”