Master of reality fuels demand for 'Osbournes' DVD

Thu Mar 13, 2:21 AM ET
By Brett Sporich

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- "The Prince of Darkness," known to the television and music world as Ozzy Osbourne, is proving to be the iron man of the recent TV-to-DVD business phenomenon.

Miramax's two-disc "The Osbournes: The First Season" has sold more than 650,000 units in its first six days and appears to be on track to become the best-selling television series DVD ever, several industry sources said.

While no studio sources would confirm specific sales numbers, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's "The Simpsons: The First Complete Season" is widely believed to hold the current record for TV-to-DVD series, with an estimated 1.6 million DVD box set units sold to consumers. Second place is believed to be held by HBO's WWII miniseries "Band of Brothers," with more than 1.4 million DVD box set units sold, followed by the premium cable channel's "The Sopranos: The Complete First Season," estimated to have sold more 1.3 million sets.

Executives at Buena Vista Home Entertainment, distributor of "Osbournes: First Season," said that while the MTV series has been highly successful, it's the DVD's extras that attract most buyers. The set includes never-before-seen footage of Osbourne, his wife, Sharon, and their children Kelly and Jack.

The DVD also includes set-top features and DVD-ROM features, such as new cast interviews, commentary tracks, a "Too Oz for TV" blooper reel and an Osbournes bingo game.

But BVHE executives said the set's most popular extra is a feature called "Ozzy Translator: Decode the Prince of Darkness," which communicates the often unintelligible speech patterns that flow from the famous rocker-turned-New Age "Father Knows Best."

The DVD-ROM includes a feature called "Food Nuisance." Using old-style arcade graphics, Ozzy throws food at the neighbor's yard from his balcony. Players can adjust the pitch angle and throw velocity to hit several selected targets. Players can choose bagels, ham or wood for each throw. At times, the neighbors become annoyed and fight back until the police arrive to haul Ozzy away.

"Osbournes: First Season" carries a suggested retail price of $29.99, but it can be purchased new for about $20 at several retail locations nationwide.