Why Are the Osbournes Watching Paranormal Videos in Quarantine?
Quarantining with the Osbournes is a lot like quarantining with anyone else. “It’s kind of just fucking boring with this pandemic shit,” Ozzy exclaims drolly.
“It’s great at first, and then you get on each other’s nerves; then it’s great again,” says his wife and manager, Sharon. “Then the cycle keeps on going around and around.”
Although the Osbourne kids are now all grown and no longer wreak chaos at home, as they did on the TV show The Osbournes, they’re just as much part of the cycle as their folks. “We have routine testing at my parents’ house; I go every Friday to get my brain scraped,” Jack says. “We try and get together as often as we can. I think we’ve all become oddly institutionalized to it now.”
So to break up the monotony, Jack — who also co-hosts a ghost-hunting show called Portals to Hell — concocted an idea to keep his folks on their toes: a new television show. On The Osbournes Want to Believe, Ozzy, Sharon, and Jack review homemade, caught-on-camera clips of unexplained phenomena — poltergeists, UFOs, Bigfoot sightings, the whole Mulder-and-Scully routine — and hilariously pick them apart. They film the show in the elder Osbournes’ basement with a small crew, for safety’s sake, and spend an hour each week cracking wise on the strangest videos that Jack and his production team can find, in an attempt to make everyone question reality and creep each other out.
In the first episode, there’s even a cameo from “Robert the Doll,” the supposedly possessed figurine Ozzy and Jack visited on their previous series, World Detour — much to the genuine chagrin of Ozzy, who recoils at the sight of it as Jack laughs. “The real Robert the Doll supposedly is haunted,” Ozzy says. “The doll that we have is one that you could buy. The woman who gave us the doll said that some people take the doll home, and they send it back because they have nothing but bad luck and things go wrong, and they have accidents. So it’s all laughs and giggles until something fucking bad happens. I’m not saying I believe; I’m not saying I don’t believe.… I’m a skeptic.”
But despite his terror at having to see the doll again, Ozzy and family told Rolling Stone, in separate interviews assembled here, that they have felt reinvigorated while making the show, which airs Sunday nights on the Travel Channel. “I think it was the most social interaction that my parents have had in months,” Jack says with a laugh.
Why did you want to do this show?
Ozzy Osbourne: It gives us something to do, because we don’t go out much, with everybody getting the virus. So Jack came up with the idea, and I said to him, “I don’t believe in this shit.” So he said, “Trust me. I’ll have you believing.” And it’s true. Some of it is very compelling.
Jack Osbourne: It really came about because very early in quarantine we did a “Watch Party” episode of Portals to Hell with my parents, where they watched an episode of the show and gave their thoughts on it. It did really well, and the good people over at Travel were like, “OK, would you want to do something else kind of in this ‘Watch Party’ realm?” And we landed on me trying to show my parents caught-on-camera stuff from aliens, UFOs, whatever, trying to convince them. Oddly enough, they really did have a good time doing it. Usually, it’s not such the case.
Sharon Osbourne: Jack’s been doing this ghost show [Portals to Hell] for so long. Initially, I was really disturbed that he was doing the show, but it’s quite fascinating. So when this show came about, it’s like, “Yeah, why not?”
What do you find unsettling about Portals to Hell?
Sharon: Oh, it’s like, come on, Jack. There’s got to be something else than this. It’s not very healthy, is it?
What experiences have you personally had with the paranormal?
Jack: One time I was out in the middle of the desert, camping, and I saw what I thought was a satellite. I pointed it out to my friends, and next thing you know, the satellite zigzagged, like, four times, and then it lit up incredibly bright and shot off in the opposite direction. Everyone saw it. I don’t know what that was, but it certainly wasn’t a satellite or a plane. After that, we were all freaked out.
Sharon: Jack has always been a UFO buff. As a kid, everything was UFOs. Ozzy’s really interested in it, so it’s not unusual talk in our house.
Do you believe in aliens?
Ozzy: I’m leaning more and more towards it. If we think that we’re the only things to be living in this universe, we can’t possibly be.
Sharon, what paranormal experiences have you had?
Sharon: I had out-of-body experiences twice in my life. It was like, am I dreaming? The first time was when I was a kid. I had a very bad lung disease and pneumonia. I had terrible, high temperatures, and one of these nights when I was ill, I was hovering above myself, looking down. And it’s a feeling that always stayed with me. The second time, I was in hospital and having my chemo, and I’d gotten really sick. My blood pressure floored, and the next thing I know, again, I’m looking down on myself; and they’re giving me a blood transfusion, and the doctor’s going, “Come on. Don’t go. I’ll do anything for you. Wake up.” And I’m looking at everything going on in the room, and I’m calm, and I’m fine. I wasn’t scared at all. The next day, he came in to see me, and I said, “If you’ll do anything, I want ice cream.” And he couldn’t believe it. He was stunned. He was like, “What?”
Jack: When I heard these stories, I thought, “So how do you say you don’t believe any of this stuff?”
Sharon: Having those experiences haven’t made me look at any of these clips any differently, because there was nothing similar to what I’d been through so far.
Ozzy, have you ever experienced anything you can’t explain?
Ozzy: Years ago, when I was married to another woman, I went to a tarot card reader. And somebody wrote down what he was saying for me, and I just put the paper in my pocket and forgot about it. Years later, I got divorced. My ex-wife was cleaning my bedside drawer out. And I phoned up to talk to my kids, and she said to me, “Can you remember going to a fortune teller?” I had to think about it. I went, “Oh, yeah.” And she read what was written to me over the phone, and it scared the living sh— [Pauses]. At the time of this person reading my tarot cards, I thought, “This guy’s fucking crazy.” For instance, he said we’re gonna have three more children. And I go, “Well, my wife can’t have any more kids.” But I wasn’t divorced then. I got remarried and I had three more kids. Since then, people say, “Do you want to do a séance?” I don’t like doing things like that. It’s something that I don’t understand, and if I don’t understand it, I don’t know if I’m going to open Pandora’s box.
Have you had run-ins with ghosts?
Jack: On Portals to Hell, I’ve experienced tons of weird things, which aren’t normal. And is it a ghost? I can’t say. But did it feel like it was some intelligent response from what we were trying to communicate with? It certainly did. When it comes to the ghost stuff, I’m very much a centrist. I’ll always take the objective approach first before I’ll be, like, I can’t explain that.
Ozzy, didn’t you have a run-in with a spirit at a castle during your Black Sabbath days?
Ozzy: You can imagine, with Black Sabbath, we all went to see The Exorcist, in Philadelphia, and spent the night together in the one room, where we all talked about it. We were shit-scared of it. But we were the four biggest pranksters on the face of the Earth. So Black Sabbath in a fucking castle … we were always saying we saw a ghost to frighten each other into thinking you are seeing things.
How skeptical are you about these things?
Sharon: I am and I’m not. It’s like, until I see it myself, I’m not going to start shouting, “I’m a believer.” Because there are so many things on film where they can use trickery, or different effects.
Are you superstitious? I know Ozzy was superstitious when Black Sabbath put out an album called 13.
Jack: My dad never really implemented his superstitions on us, but he would often share his superstitions. Like, he’ll never own a green car, which is a weird World War II superstition. He’s got this whole thing about green cars. When you ask him why, his excuse often changes, like, “Ah, they’re just not reliable.” What? That’s, like, an old man’s thing to say.
Ozzy, you seemed genuinely unnerved by seeing Robert the Doll again.
Ozzy: I don’t like it. Jack thinks it’s fucking hilarious. But I don’t like it. It makes me feel creepy. It’s not that I’m frightened of the fucking doll. It’s not like I’m frightened of the ghost of the doll. It’s just that I don’t like to fuck around with things that I don’t understand.
Jack: It initially started as a joke. But after the whole Robert the Doll thing is when he started getting sick, and then he had the accident and bad stuff did start happening. I think he is being half-serious [about being afraid of it], but he equates [his accident] to Robert. I think it’s funny in a fucked-up way.
Ozzy asked you to send the doll back when you were done shooting. Did you?
Jack: No, because when we were doing World Detour, we brought it with us everywhere. I’ve got so many fond memories of those three years, so I don’t want to give it up just yet.
When you’re watching these videos, are you worried that you’re watching deepfakes?
Jack: Absolutely. You’re going to start seeing more and more deepfakes trickle into paranormal, caught-on-camera stuff. I’m pretty good about spotting how someone could have manipulated footage. Like, there’s this clip going around where a ghost supposedly throws a can at someone. You just see this can flying out of nowhere, and it hits the guy. But what they’ve done is they’ve actually reversed the footage and played it. So that’s the stuff that I watch for. But I do think you’re going to start seeing more high-quality fakes out there.
There was one clip of a kitchen in the first episode, and a towel flies off the rack by itself and onto the stove, which then turns on by itself, and the towel catches fire. Do you believe that one is real?
Jack: The only thing that got me going is when you see the stove turning on. I don’t know how you would rig that unless there was some motor that they actually put inside of the handle. Anytime there’s the poltergeist stuff with stuff flying around, I’m always looking for that wire.
Ozzy: That video, to me, I thought that could be faked. It’s one thing where you go, “That’s weird,” but then you go, “It could be done.” I’m one of them guys where if there’s a possible way of getting ’round it, then it’s bullshit to me. Have you seen the one with the girl levitating in the forest? Fucking hell, it’s so weird.
Which of these videos do you believe?
Ozzy: I wouldn’t use the word “believe” but one that struck me was there was one where at a school in Ireland, and shit was flying around like I’ve never seen anything like it. It was moving in weird ways.
Sharon: It was really convincing.
Why do you like making TV shows with your family?
Jack: With World Detour, initially it was a History show, and it was all based around the fact that me and my dad love history. It’s, like, our one thing that him and I both nerd out on together. Having the opportunity to be in your early thirties and go traveling around with your dad and checking out all these historical sites, that was awesome. I just relished in the moments we had. There were huge chunks of my childhood where I didn’t have the opportunity to spend huge amounts of time with him, because he was often working. And when he was home, he was at the studio. So I looked at it like making up for lost time. And then as far as doing this with my mom, I very much enjoy working with both of my parents, especially now that I’m a lot older than when we were doing The Osbournes.
You recently did a podcast about The Osbournes. What strikes you when you see those episodes now?
Jack: I don’t even know when the last time I watched a full episode was. But it’s like looking through a high school yearbook. It’s weird to see video of yourself at 16, 17 years old. I don’t recommend it to anyone.
So have you enjoyed making The Osbournes Want to Believe?
Ozzy: I want to believe, but I always think there’s some explanation why these things happen. There’s a draft and the door opens, or someone is standing on a loose floorboard in the hallway, which radiates to the kitchen door. But saying that, Jack showed me some stuff. Like he went to this old Victorian house with Kelly in Los Angeles, and fucking hell, they all ran out of the house — crew and everybody — and everybody was scared. But at the end of the day, I don’t lose any sleep over this shit.
Sharon: With Ozzy’s dry sense of humor and mine, it was just fun. The whole series was fun to do and quick. It was like, yeah, I could do more of this.
Jack: Dad really got into it toward the end. In the first episode, he’s like, “Wait, what are we doing?” And then by episodes three, four, five, he gets so fired up on it. It’s actually really quite funny TV. There are a few episodes where there’s just a long running jokes; one has to do with a pirate fucking a dolphin, so that gives you an idea of how things digress. My parents are best when they work. They keep talking about like, “Oh, when we retire.…” And I was like, “You guys are never going to fucking retire. You guys literally don’t know what to do when you have nothing to do for a day.”