In Monday’s premiere, it takes Sharon Osbourne’s new syndicated talk show strip mere seconds before it goes officially to the dogs — in this case, her own. The mini canines arrive with her in a Mini Cooper (topped by a Union Jack, no less) that she drives out onto the grotesquely cluttered home-replica set, her hair flaming red, her manner as scattered as the pace of her show.
THAT THE CHATFEST should have, uh, issues is hardly stop-the-presses news. The tabs have been rife with horror stories from the day that production began on “The Sharon Osbourne Show,” replete with tales of showrunner replacements and the host’s erratic behavior. If the opening hour wasn’t quite the full-on train wreck that had been predicted, it was awfully close.
She has conquered cable and apparently beaten cancer, but it’s less than even money that Osbourne can win over the mainstream. Her show is neither true celebrity discussion nor genuine issues forum but a kind of odd mutation. Boob job or no boob job, the woman simply can’t get by on looks (or charm) alone. And given that she tends to swallow her words and isn’t a natural talker by any stretch, let’s just say that she promises to be an acquired taste.
The show opened with the host bounding out exuberantly onto an upstairs-downstairs set designed apparently as a quasi-replica of her own mansion. “I can go now to movie premieres! I can go backstage!” she exults. Yes, but can she entertain us with her overly contrived brand of poignancy and patter? Answer: not terribly well from the get-go.
Using flash and dash in lieu of relaxed confidence, Osbourne welcomes first guest Wynonna Judd, who enters on a motorcycle and immediately corrects the host’s pronunciation of her name: “It’s Why-nonna,” she says. Tellingly, however, Osbourne continues to mispronounce it throughout. Wynonna keeps the dog day afternoon theme going by bringing out her own pooch, which results in the hound growling at a crew member and Osbourne admonishing the man, “You’d better be gone because you’re ruining my interview!”
In truth, the host was doing a fine job of that all by herself.
A couple of songs and one good cry later, Osbourne introduces a large family of kids whose parents recently died three weeks apart, resulting in the two eldest moving back home to raise the youngest. It’s inspiring — including promises of gifts and aid and even counseling for the courageous brood —but it’s utterly out of place with what precedes and follows it. Things close out with Osbourne conducting an embarrassingly fawning pretaped backstage interview of Justin Timberlake. (”I still dream about him,” she purrs afterward.)
Osbourne prides herself on keeping it real, but here it all feels decidedly surreal. She needs to pick a tone and stick with it rather than leaping all over the stylistic map. And while she’s at it, a little less showbiz wouldn’t hurt, either.© 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.