Osbournes Shrug Off Ozzfest Competition, Korn Insults

Sharon had called band, who'll play this year's tour, 'has-beens.'

BEVERLY HILLS, California — An increase in competition from Summer Sanitarium and Lollapalooza? Rubbish. A decrease in the popularity of nü-metal? Bullsh--. Cancer? Easy.

It seems no obstacle is too much for Ozzy, Sharon and Jack Osbourne, the brain trust behind the annual Ozzfest tour.

Not even Sharon's big mouth, which you'd think would've destroyed the likeliness of Korn joining the tour after she called them "has-beens" and "just too f---ing gay from the word go" in Rolling Stone last fall. Not so (see "Ozzy, Korn, Marilyn Manson Tapped For Ozzfest").

"She started rumors about us, but that is just how she is," Jonathan Davis said nonchalantly at a press conference on Tuesday in the Osbournes' library. "She is a sh-- talker and it doesn't bother me. I mean, with negative press, they are still talking about me, so I don't give a f---. ... We are all in this thing together. We all want to do a good show, and I can look [past] that. Who cares?"

So how was Sharon forgiven? She had a good excuse.

"I had cancer. I was sick and I didn't know what I was saying. Now that's a good sympathy card," the Osbourne matriarch joked. "Being a manager, it's not right to knock on the bands, and I did it because I am such a bitch and I did it because I don't like his manager."

"Well, I think at the time that you did it, you didn't know things would be looking good for Ozzfest," chimed in Jack.

Indeed, for a short time the Osbournes weren't so sure about spending another summer on the road. Sharon was sick and Ozzy wanted to be at her side. It didn't help that the economy is suffering and a war could break out any minute.

But with a little encouragement from their friend Marilyn Manson they decided to soldier on.

"I think that entertainment and theatre were created back in the day to distract people and get their minds off the sh-- that is going on in the world and make them think about something else, and Ozzfest is a great escape," Manson said. "It's more than just a day. It sticks with you, especially if you make yourself a real part of it."

The fact that two other festival tours with hard rock bands will go out this summer never discouraged the Osbournes (see "Metallica/ Limp Bizkit/ Linkin Park Tour Itinerary Takes Shape" and "Lollapalooza Back To Showcase Musical Revolution, Perry Farrell Says").

"My thing is that there's enough room for everybody, the more the better," said Ozzy, who is working out five days a week to prepare for Ozzfest.

"Each tour stands for something different, and if you want alternative music, you don't come to our festival," his wife added.

As for the notion that nü-metal, a major element of Ozzfest since the beginning, is losing fans, Sharon scoffed.

"They are going to stay around," she promised. "With our genre of music, with Korn, Disturbed or Ozzy, the industry always, always says, 'It's over, it's over, it's over,' and it's not for us to determine. It's for the kids to determine. So if kids don't show up this year, then we know it's dead, but it's not for the media to say that it's dead."

Sharon has grown so confident in Ozzfest, which will also make a European run this summer, she's eyeing a ninth and 10th year. Ozzy said he thinks the tour should go on forever. Even without him? "Absolutely."

Without the tour, Sharon pointed out, up-and-coming metal bands wouldn't have the opportunity to play for thousands of people every day. Ozzfest's second stage has helped launch the careers of Slipknot, System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus and dozens of others.

"You look at all the big bands from all the years we've had and right before they broke, they were pretty much on Ozzfest, so it's kind of a gratifying feeling," said Jack, who helps choose acts for the second stage.

Two of this year's main stage acts, Disturbed and Chevelle, are returning after debuts on the second stage.

After all her kind words for other bands, including Korn, a reporter asked Sharon if she invited Zwan, the new band featuring rival Billy Corgan, on Ozzfest.

"I did," she said with a smile. "Because you know what? We needed new catering."