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In the Know/A Look at The Week Ahead

This Is Your Busy Life, Ozzy Osbourne

April 08, 2002

Fans who rush out Saturday and get tickets for Ozzfest 2002 will gain entree to see not just one of the elder statesmen of heavy metal but also MTV's newest sitcom star.

They are one and the same: Ozzy Osbourne. The weekly series "The Osbournes" has turned into a major hit for MTV since its premiere March 5. The first episode, an MTV spokeswoman says, was the highest-rated series premiere in the history of the cable channel.

Things have just gone up from there. As word of mouth and positive reviews have circulated, ratings have increased each week. "The Osbournes" has become the most watched program in its time slot--Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.--among viewers 12 to 34 years old, and that covers cable or broadcast channels, the MTV spokeswoman adds.

The show, which TV Guide calls "a cross between 'The Simpsons' and 'This Is Spinal Tap,'" revolves around the often surreal daily lives of Osbourne, his manager-wife Sharon, their teenage children Kelly and Jack, and their Australian nanny Melinda Varga. (The Osbournes' eldest child, Aimee, opted out of the show.)

The success of the series has rubbed off on Osbourne's latest album, "Down to Earth." It sold 153,000 copies the first week it was released in October but had settled into weekly sales of around 10,000 copies before the show came on. The week "The Osbournes" began, album sales spiked more than 40%, to 14,000 copies. It's now sold 705,000 copies since the fall.

Osbourne-mania only figures to keep growing with Universal Music's release last week of four of his earlier albums.How well those do on Billboard's Catalog Albums chart will become apparent Wednesday when first-week sales figures come in.

The multi-pronged Ozz attack should certainly benefit Ozzfest, which opens July 6 in Bristow, Va., and reaches Southern California with an Aug. 31 stop at the Blockbuster Pavilion in Devore. The seventh edition of the annual hard-rock blowout features Osbourne, Rob Zombie, System of a Down, P.O.D., Drowning Pool, Adema and Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society, among others.

The MTV series, says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert business weekly Pollstar, "certainly broadens the exposure for Ozzy, not that he necessarily needs it. But I imagine the MTV demographic skews pretty young, and Ozzy's core audience is older. One thing about Ozzfest, it has the tradition of bringing along the best of new music as well [as the veterans]. So that's allowed Ozzy to be exposed to younger hard-rock fans who might not otherwise go to see him."

Compiled by Times staff writers

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