At least 16 Fox stations around the country kept the Prince of Darkness in the dark--refusing to air the Ozzy Osbourne variety program Osbournes: Reloaded last night, reports the Washington Post. The paper also says that 10 more Fox stations bumped Osbournes out of prime, and that it narrowly averted greater affiliate resistance after screening the program for executives from Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 19 Fox affiliates.
The show debuted after American Idol last night.
The stations blanking Osbournes include WXIX Cincinnati, WFLX West Palm Beach and WGHP Greensboro. Many stations received only the promotional reel and not the actual show in advance, and made their decision based on the reel.
"It seemed too harsh for the (American Idol) audience going into it-kids, families, grandparents," says WFLX VP/General Manager John Spinola. "Without being able to see the show, I had to make a decision."
Station executives took issue with elements of the so-called sizzle reel, such as a grandmother doing a striptease and Ozzy and his wife Sharon shouting obscenities at a teenager.
Spinola, who aired news in place of Osbournes, said he'd watch the program on demand today and then decide whether to air it next time around. "I'll see if I made the right decision," he says.