After claiming that money wasn’t a factor in her exit from the show and that NBC hadn’t invited her back, Osbourne now says she’s quitting the talent competition over the mishandling of her son, Jack Osbourne, by NBC’s new reality series Stars Earn Stripes.
“It’s time to move on,” the 59-year-old tells the New York Post.
She says that producers on the upcoming Stars Earn Stripes reality competition series discriminated against her son Jack, 26, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, when it decided not to include him on the show that will challenge eight celebrities with executing complicated missions inspired by real military exercises.
“I just can’t be fake,” she says. “It’s discrimination, and it was badly handled.”
Jack had appeared on Osbourne’s CBS show, The Talk, in June saying he was fired from the series. But, producers said at last month’s TCA Press Tour that he was never actually hired.
“He was somebody with these eight and a few others that we were in talks with,” Executive Producer David A. Hurwitz said. “But he did not get penciled into the final lineup. Prior to us making our decision, it was found out that the rigors of the show were too intense for him.”
Osbourne and her son concede that the final contract was never signed. But, Osbourne says they were moving forward on the show and producers had indicated Jack’s casting was a done deal. But, just two days before Jack was to start work on the show, NBC producers emailed saying, “Regretfully, we cannot move forward with Jack’s participation.”
According to the report, AGT executive producer Simon Cowell has tried to smooth things over between the network and Osbourne. Additionally, an NBC executive offered to pay Jack his show salary anyway. But, Osbourne wasn’t appeased.
“He didn’t want the money,” she says. “He wanted his gig. It gave him something to look forward to when he was diagnosed… Think of the good that it could have done to show other people who have this [condition] that your life is not over.”
Over the weekend at the ck one presents Rock the Vote event at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, Jack joined his sister, Kelly Osbourne, who was overheard saying, “[Jack] is pure inspiration to everyone around him” due to his ongoing battle with his illness.
If Osbourne indeed leaves the show, she says NBC can block her from judging another competition for five years. She joined AGT during its second season in 2007. Her possible departure follows just a year after Cowell replaced Piers Morgan with shock jock Howard Stern. In addition to Morgan, former judges on the NBC competition include Brandy Norwood and David Hasselhoff.
NBC and Sharon’s reps didn’t immediately respond to Celebuzz’s request for comment.
[Update 6:59 PT: NBC President Robert Greenblatt released a statement on the accusations from the Osbournes. According to Deadline, he says:
First, we have the deepest affection for Sharon Osbourne and consider her to be part of the NBC family. And our hearts go out to her, Ozzy, Jack and his family at this time. We hold medical information in strict confidence and therefore cannot comment specifically about Jack, but as a company that cares deeply about the health and safety of everyone on our shows — especially one like Stars Earn Stripes that requires dangerous water stunts, strenuous physical activity, and uses live ammunition – we required all potential participants to undergo medical vetting to ensure that they could safely participate. Although we did not ask Jack to participate in the competition, we were able to offer him two substantial alternative roles on the show, both of which he declined. This network does not discriminate on any basis.
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