America's Got Talent judge Sharon Osbourne announced yesterday she is quitting the show because, she claims, NBC decided her son Jack was not fit to serve in a fake army.
Osbourne told the New York Post that NBC had established a good-faith verbal contract with her son Jack, 26, to feature him in the upcoming Todd Palin star vehicle/August television time-filler Stars Earn Stripes. According to Sharon, the network abruptly fired Jack via email two days before he was set to begin filming the reality competition, after learning he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Said Sharon, "I just can't be fake. It's discrimination, and it was badly handled."
NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt defended the company against Sharon's accusations.
In a statement, he claimed Jack was eliminated after a mandatory medical evaluation (for all potential participants) found that he could not safely participate in the Stars and Stripes competition>. which will pit celebrities (and Todd Palin) against one another in challenges inspired by military training exercises. Greenblatt also said that NBC offered Jack other [lesser] roles on the show, which he declined to accept.
"… as a company that cares deeply about the health and safety of everyone on our shows - especially one like Stars Earn Stripes that requires dangerous water stunts, strenuous physical activity, and uses live ammunition - we required all potential participants to undergo medical vetting to ensure that they could safely participate. Although we did not ask Jack to participate in the competition, we were able to offer him two substantial alternative roles on the show, both of which he declined. This network does not discriminate on any basis."
Jack offered to purchase his own insurance policy if he would be allowed to participate, but producers shot down the plan.
Sharon told the Post that NBC offered to pay Jack his full appearance fee to avoid an ugly public scene exactly like the one currently playing out, but that he refused the money.
"He wanted his gig. It gave him something to look forward to when he was diagnosed. Think of the good that it could have done to show other people who have this [condition] that your life is not over."
A small hitch in Sharon's dramatic storm-off is that she remains under contract with NBC. She's not worried about that though, because she's super rich anyway, and was pretty much just identifying America's most talented citizens as a public service, to fill her days.
"They can't make me do something I don't want to do. All they can do is stop me from being a judge on another network for five years."
Osbourne's beef with seven-year-old Eden Wood famously earned her a diss in the pageant superstar's hit single Underpuppy.
[New York Post // Image via Getty]