NBC is denying Sharon Osbourne's claim that the network discriminated against her son, Jack Osbourne, by cutting him from the reality series "Stars Earns Stripes" after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
In a lengthy statement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said the network offered the younger Osbourne two other roles on the series — which tests celebrities' endurance via a series of military-like exercises — but he took a pass on the offer.
Greenblatt began his statement with an expression of sympathy for Osbourne and her family.
"First, we have the deepest affection for Sharon Osbourne and consider her to be part of the NBC family," Greenblatt said. "And our hearts go out to her, Ozzy, Jack and his family at this time. We hold medical information in strict confidence and therefore cannot comment specifically about Jack, but 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."
However, he noted, the network offered him alternative employment on the series, which Osbourne subsequently turned down.
"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," Greenblatt said.
Sharon — who has announced her intention to leave NBC's talent competition "America's Got Talent" — blasted the network in an interview with the New York Post on Monday for cutting her 26-year-old son from the series.
"I just can’t be fake," Osbourne said. "It’s discrimination, and it was badly handled."
During the Television Critics Association summer press tour last month, representatives for the show confirmed that Jack was in talks for the series. However, producer David Hurwitz said that "the rigors of the show were too intense for him."
According to the Post, both Osbournes admitted that a contract had not been signed, but added that a good-faith, verbal agreement had been forged. The Osbournes said that the show sent an email in May confirming his participation, but dropped him two days after he went public about having MS in June.
The elder Osbourne abruptly announced her intention to leave "America's Got Talent" in July with a cryptic tweet to her co-star Howard Stern.
"My darling @HowardStern, money is not the reason I'm not returning to @nbcagt, it's because…," she wrote, leaving it at that.