Osbournes Get Another Turn at Bat

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For MTV, two seasons of The Osbournes simply wasn't enough. True, the ratings have fallen from last summer's sky-high levels, but, as MTV's Programming President Brian Graden pointed at the critics press tour last week in Los Angeles, it is still MTV's highest-rated series.

Even MTV, which brings on new shows at a breathless rate, finds it hard to let a good thing slip away.

The wacky Osbourne clan will be back for a third season in early 2004, having agreed to make 20 new episodes. MTV didn't have to get into another round of bizarre negotiations, either. Last year's deal included an option for a third.

Asked why he wanted MTV cameras back in his home, patriarch Ozzy Osbourne, a surprise guest at MTV's presentation, says—rather coherently—that "this whole MTV thing has been just an incredible adventure and I didn't want the adventure to end so soon."

Production on the new episodes should start in the fall. The latest episodes are averaging about 3 million viewers, well above MTV's prime time average. But it's off from last spring's blistering Nielsen marks that peaked at nearly 8 million viewers.

"When we had the chance to do 20 more, there was zero hesitation," Graden says. "We were sort of there immediately."

Since filming wrapped on the current season, son Jack has been in rehab for a drug problem, and matriarch Sharon is recovering from cancer treatments. Those events, as well as daughter Kelly's shaky singing career, are likely to be prominent storylines.

Meanwhile, the Osbournes' oldest offspring, daughter Aimee, who does not appear on the reality show, is featured in an upcoming MTV original movie Wuthering Heights, a modern-day adaptation of Emily Brontë's classic romance novel debuting Sept. 4.

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