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The Daily Mail
By PAUL SCOTT
Last updated at 23:45pm on 5th October 2007
Fighting to be heard above the self-congratulatory hubbub of a celebrity-studded AIDS benefit at New York’s Waldorf Astoria last week, Sharon Osbourne was far from her usual ebullient self.
Bedecked in a black floor-length lace ball gown and with her trademark Cruella DeVil tresses dyed a deep vermillion, she cut a somewhat severe figure.
Nor was her mood lifted by a series of speeches, delivered by the great and the good of Manhattan society, about those dying of the disease – particularly as thoughts of her own mortality have, of late, been at the front of her mind.
Sharon is to release Survivor: My Story – The Next Chapter, less than two years after her first, bestselling autobiography
Indeed, she was keen to confide a trifle morbidly in her fellow partygoers, who included Sir Elton John and actress Uma Thurman, that she has already laid plans for her own final days.
She and her husband Ozzy Osbourne have, she told them, drafted a ‘living will’ which states that, should they be struck down by dementia, they will travel to Switzerland, where they have made arrangements for their assisted suicide.
“If anything happens to affect our brains, we have decided we’ll just put ourselves out of our misery,” she has been gloomily telling friends of late.
Given her rock star husband’s rambling and incoherent attempts at conversation at the same glitzy event, it is, perhaps, hardly surprising that those same friends have taken to joking – somewhat unkindly – that Sharon has already bought him a one-way ticket.
But Sharon is, excuse the pun, deadly serious. The X Factor judge has been hurriedly putting the contingency plans in place since the death of her music manager father Don Arden from Alzheimer’s three months ago.
Despite a deeply fractured relationship that led to a 20-year estrangement between the two, Sharon, who will be 55 next week, has been hit hard by his death.
So hard, in fact, that I’ve learned she has quietly placed herself back into therapy in Los Angeles in a bid to come to terms with her grief.
Her decision to resume counselling comes as friends privately voice their fears that the emotionally delicate star has pushed herself close to breaking point in recent weeks.
Her fragility was in evidence last month when she broke down sobbing at the opening night of her daughter Kelly’s West End debut in the musical Chicago.
At the time, Sharon’s worried handlers blamed her distress on her dog Minnie being ill.
Nor, it should be said, will persistent showbusiness rumours about her state of health be quelled by the publication next week of the second volume of her memoirs (in an unashamed attempt to cash in, she will release Survivor: My Story – The Next Chapter, less than two years after her first, bestselling autobiography).
Indeed, Osbourne admits to adding a new chapter to the book as it went to press.
The hastily written section amounts to little more than a bile-dripping rant against her elder brother David Arden, who in turn has recently gone into print in a red-top newspaper to accuse his sister of being a back- stabbing control freak with a hair-trigger temper.
He also accuses her of bitching about her famous friends, including Sir Elton, behind their backs and claims she privately brands Simon Cowell, her fellow panellist on The X Factor, as a closet gay who is not yet aware of his true sexuality.
All of which is highly embarrassing for Sharon, of course, not least because Cowell is her boss.
So it is hardly surprising, then, that in a get-even assault on her brother in the book she will outline his alleged arrest for drugs possession in America two years ago and his onetime jailing in Britain on charges of false imprisonment. (Arden, who worked for his father’s Jet Records, was jailed after he took hostage an accountant whom they had accused of stealing money from them.)
But David Arden’s most serious crime, as he himself claims, is falling out with his millionaire sister over her insistence that their father should not be buried in a plot with their mother in Surrey, but 200 miles away in his native Manchester.
Feud: Sharon fell out with her brother David after she insisted that their father be buried in his hometown rather than with their mother
David believes this was a final act of revenge, the last blast of a feud between the father and daughter which has spanned so many decades.
Indeed, Sharon’s grieving tears do conceal an extraordinarily complicated relationship with her father – in her first autobiography she even accused him of threatening to have her killed.
Despite this, the Osbourne matriarch has certainly inherited many of her father’s controlling ways, viewing anyone who deviates from her wishes as a threat.
Which perhaps explains why family members tell me that David’s very public act of “treachery” will not be forgiven by the ruthless Sharon.
He has been told in no uncertain terms, I have learned, that he will not be welcome at a memorial for their father in the city next month which Sharon is paying for (she did not attend his actual funeral, saying she was “too traumatised”).
Her brother’s indiscretions are, deeply wounding (his allegations also include that she has a scatological fixation, which once bizarrely involved her daubing the Rolls-Royce of her friend Elton after a row).
But it is here that even those friends who are most blind to her faults are prone to a resigned shake of the head.
Not least because in an apparent act of barefaced hypocrisy – and against the advice of some close to her – she has also chosen to use the pages of her money-spinning new tome to launch a series of vituperative and foul-mouthed attacks on everyone from her co-stars to fellow celebrities and members of the Royal Family.
Witness one bloodspitting passage in which she describes the four-letter-riddled invective she spewed at a shocked Chris Tarrant during filming of The X Factor.
Her rant was not shown on air, but it was delivered in full earshot of the studio audience, which included children.
The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host had been invited to watch the show being recorded, but made the mistake of making an off-air joke about her husband Ozzy’s slurry voice in front of a furious Mrs Osbourne.
Tarrant sarcastically told Sharon: “You are married to the most articulate man in the world. And the best dressed.”
She did not need any more encouragement to let loose her foulmouthed tongue.
Sharon also recalls meeting Prince Philip backstage at the Royal Variety Performance and accuses the Queen’s consort of being a “miserable old b*****d”.
And after a blazing row with former Fleet Street editor Piers Morgan (which started because Morgan used off-the-record quotes from Sharon in his latest book) at a dinner in Beverly Hills, she writes of her fellow judge on America’s Got Talent: “I wanted to slap his face and to spit at him. I wanted to hurt him, to physically hurt him.”
In another bizarre entry, she pointed out a fellow female guest while dining with Prince Charles at Windsor Castle in March.
She made an extremely crude joke about the guest, who had an embarrassing rash around her mouth.
The Osbournes: Sharon with husband Ozzy, daughter Kelly and son Jack
So jaw-droppingly ribald was her joke to the shocked future king that his noble ancestors must still be spinning in their graves.
But above and beyond the simply tasteless (Sharon is, apparently, convinced that the more shocking the book, the more it will sell), what really worries her friends is her astonishing admission that despite taking the anti-depressant Zoloft for the past 11 years, she remains, she confesses, prone to self-harming.
She writes: “One of those days when the pressure’s up and the telly is on really loud, and the kids are on the phone and Ozzy is complaining and the dogs never stop barking – you just break. Scream. Cry.
“I will get my head and just bang it, bang it against the wall to hurt myself.
“Once upon a time I used to cut myself, but I’ve done cutting – that was years ago. Now I bang my head.”
Not that Sharon – whose thuggish father was known by the soubriquet “The Al Capone of Pop” – has ever been able to keep a lid on her volatile temper, according to her brother.
David Arden describes the London-born Sharon once emptying a plate of food over the head of his father’s mistress in the rarefied surroundings of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And friends say in recent months she has been buckling under the stress of commuting between her homes in Los Angeles and Buckinghamshire as she films The X Factor for ITV and America’s Got Talent for the NBC network.
To make matters worse, she is also living in terror of an obsessed British fan called Doreen who has stalked her here and at her home in the US.
At the same time, astonishing as it may seem, she has confided that as the family’s chief breadwinner, she must continue to work to cover the cost of her exorbitant spending.
She also claims the £4.5 million they made from the MTV reality series The Osbournes, which chronicled their dysfunctional family life, has been eaten up in a series of lawsuits.
According to the source: “Sharon is working herself into the ground and risking her health. She desperately needs a break, but she says she needs the money.
“She’s worried her moment in the spotlight might not last and she wants to make the most of it.”
Certainly, tales of her excess are legion. Her love of jewellery, cars and designer clothes is said to have cost £50 million.
Then there is her obsession with going under the plastic surgeon’s knife.
Since 1999 she has submitted herself to a series of face lifts, tummy and leg tucks, boob jobs and several operations to have gastric bands fitted around her stomach in a bid to lose weight.
With their three children – Aimee, 24, Kelly, 22, and 21-year-old Jack – now having left home, and in an attempt to cut costs, the couple have sold the Beverly Hills mansion where The Osbournes series was filmed, as well as a Malibu beach house.
They have “downsized” to a six-bedroom, tenbathroom, £5 million spread in Hidden Hills, California.
However, the move has not gone as smoothly as they would have hoped.
Within days of their taking possession, the swimming pool mysteriously caved in and they have discovered their new rural home is plagued by tarantulas, rattlesnakes and scorpions.
Meanwhile, her husband, the former Black Sabbath front man who has admitted years of drug and alcohol abuse, will this month embark on a world tour that will see him working almost up to his 60th birthday in December next year.
It comes after Sharon, who also acts as his manager, was forced to announce that this year’s struggling annual Ozzfest tour of the US would be a free event in a bid lure fans – which has led to the charge that they are using the gimmick as a ploy to make more money at the expense of other bands on the tour.
At the same time, Sharon has found herself subject to backstage whispers about her performances on The X Factor – which averages some 7.5 million viewers every Saturday night.
She is said to be unpredictable and tetchy off screen and makes no secret to the crew of her hatred for Dannii Minogue, the 35-year-old singer (and sister of Kylie) who joined the panel at the start of the latest series.
Mrs Osbourne is also said to be nervous that Cowell is rumoured to be lining up American singer Jennifer Lopez to replace her in time for the next series.
Sharon has previously found herself in hot water with her ITV bosses.
Clearly tipsy, Sharon, who admitted drinking a bottle of wine during a break from filming, appeared last year with Cowell and fellow judge Louis Walsh on the show’s satellite television spin-off The Xtra Factor.
It came after she collapsed on stage during a performance of The Vagina Monologues in Newcastle, telling the audience: “I’m p****d.”
She later claimed, however, that she had fallen victim to a herbal remedy she used to control stage fright.
Meanwhile, The X Factor series itself is coming in for criticism.
Indeed, in recent days, the show has faced allegations of secret coaching for potential winners and rumours that supposedly spontaneous exchanges between the judges and the wannabe stars are scripted.
It has also come in for a torrent of criticism for subjecting contestants as young as 14 (the age limit was lowered from 16 for this series) to humiliation by the judges.
Meanwhile, those close to Sharon say she fears her brother is planning to throw new and ever more damaging allegations at her in an attempt to have her ostracised by her famous friends.
Given the vitriol she reserves for her showbiz peers in that forthcoming (and highly lucrative) book, it seems the unpredictable Mrs Osbourne might just have achieved that on her own.
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