Mike Fleiss has one of Hollywood’s more unusual résumés.
The producer is best known for bringing us the boy(s)-meets-girl(s) reality shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but he has also overseen a string of boys-and-girls-get-butchered horror movies, including Eli Roth’s two Hostel films, the rather nifty 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and the forthcoming Shark Night 3D. Fleiss has now added another string to his bow — or, arguably, lashed the other two together — by co-directing God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, a new documentary about the reality show star and infamous, bat-molesting, Black Sabbath-fronting metal icon.
“I’m a lifetime Sabbath fan” explains Fleiss. “I’ve played in heavy metal bands my whole life. I’ve played in Black Sabbath tribute bands.” Fleiss also knows Osbourne’s wife Sharon through his reality show ventures. So when Jack Osbourne was looking for someone to direct a movie about his father, Ma Osbourne suggested he give Fleiss a call.
Despite the Osbourne family’s involvement in the venture, and the Bachelor creator’s own fondness for his subject, Fleiss was determine the film not be a puff piece. “I didn’t want it to be something that was just glorifying,” he says of the movie, which recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. “We had to talk about the difficult times and the embarrassing times and really do it unblinkingly. I think because of that honesty you come away from the movie really caring and admiring and even loving Ozzy Osbourne.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Ozzy Osbourne is not exactly an undocumented figure. Why did Jack want to make this movie in the first place?
Mike Fleiss: Jack is an aspiring filmmaker, but he’s also a son who loves his father, and I think he saw this as a chance to pay tribute to his dad. I mean, Jack doesn’t say that because it’s maybe too sweet for him to say. But that’s really what I think was his core motivation.
It is often quite a melancholic film, which I think might surprise people.
Yeah. Ozzy’s life is not all glamor and sold-out concerts and the rock star existence. He’s lived a f—ing hard, sometimes terrible existence. And the fact that he’s still doing it, still up there rocking, it’s a miracle. One of my favorite pieces in the movie is when the newscaster says, “How is Ozzy Osbourne still alive?” To me, that’s sort of the thesis of the whole movie in a weird way. It’s like, “How is he still alive?”
Do you have any theories about that?
Sharon saved his life, clearly. And I think he’s just one of those rugged British gentlemen, you know. He’s got a hell of a constitution. You can’t really f— him up too bad. The fact that he can still go out and play two-hour rock concerts is incredible. I mean, I still play in a band, California Wildebeest, and when we play a 45-minute set I’m exhausted the next day, I can’t really go into work, I’m tired, I’ve got to sleep in. I feel terrible! And there’s this 62-year-old man out there, jumping around, doing his little frog dance, and singing these incredibly challenging vocal lines for nearly two hours. I’ve got the utmost respect for him.
I should point out that there are also comedic moments in the film. I particularly liked the sequence in which he refuses to watch any more of his terrible ‘80s-era videos.
[Laughs] He just gets up and walks out of the room! Yeah, we tried to just give you a glimpse into the guy and how he looks at his music and how he looks at his career. There’s things that he’s proud of and things that he thinks are s—.
Paul McCartney appears in the film, paying tribute to Ozzy. How did you get hold of him?
It turned out that McCartney was something of a fan and we reached out. We tried not to put too many celebrities-talking-about-how-great-Ozzy-is in the movie, because in so many of these movies that’s really all you get. But we wanted to do a few important ones, and none was more important than Sir Paul because that’s really Ozzy’s idol, when you break it down.
You also have all of Sabbath talking about Ozzy. Well, I should say all of version one Sabbath…
The real Sabbath!
I’m not going to get into an argument with you about that, sir. The band has had its ups and down over the years. Were they happy to contribute?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s still talk about a reunion tour now. Tony [Iommi] is just a great, courtly gentleman and Bill [Ward] and Geezer [Butler] are great guys too. They still love Ozzy. They were brothers together at a very young age and they went through a life-transforming experience together and thank god they’re still all friendly.
What’s the plan with the film now?
It’ll get a theatrical release. It’s going to have a good life. We’re negotiating with a bunch of people right now.
I believe Jack is producing a film called Black Sabbath. Will you be involved in that?
Yeah, Jack and I are going to produce a horror movie. It’s going to be inspired by the music of the band. It won’t be a story of the band, though. It’s not a biographical tale.
You can check out an exclusive clip from God Bless Ozzy Osbourne below. Given the subject matter, you may be unsurprised to learn that some salty language is involved.