|According to the London Times, Sharon Osbourne had an anonymous co-writer on “Revenge.’’ Her publisher insists that she “created the characters, scenes, and setting.’’ (Brian Aris)|
The salacious side of Hollywood
In Osbourne’s ‘Revenge,’ sisters try to make it big
In 2009, the London Times ranked Sharon Osbourne - Ozzy’s ubiquitous manager/mate - as the 25th richest woman in Britain. Her autobiography, “Extreme,’’ co-written with Penelope Dening, was a UK bestseller. Now her British publisher has just released - in the United States - “Revenge,’’ a book that should be thought of less as a novel than as a clever bit of brand extension. The name “Sharon Osbourne’’ sells things (TV, music, gossip), after all, so why not use it to conquer that great untapped market of readers: those who’d rather browse US Weekly than haunt their local library?
The plot revolves around two sisters: Chelsea and Amber Stone, both of whom have been groomed by their overweening mother, Margaret, to “make it big’’ as movie stars. Chelsea’s the bad girl, which means that she’s the brunette in this story. Amber has, well, amber hair.
All of these characters are petty, shallow, and driven by an almost pathological desire for fame, by which I mean tailor-made for reality TV. The book moves quickly, though, and does offer a glimpse into the salacious mores of Hollywood, including what the LA elite think of their “staff.’’ (Hint: They exist to sleep with and fire.) Without reading “Revenge,’’ I would never have known that when paparazzi aiming for you invade your neighbors’ privacy, it’s only polite to order gift baskets for them. For the most part, though, Osbourne’s insights run along the lines of “being a ‘star’ was such a strange thing. People treated you differently, laughed at your crap jokes, gave you more free stuff than you could ever use.’’ Who’d have thunk it?
Of course, Osbourne may not be to blame for the bland prose at all. According to the London Times, she had an anonymous co-writer, although her publisher insists that she “created the characters, scenes, and setting.’’ Whoever did the actual writing, it’s clear that we’re in the company of a mind that thinks in outfits. Every melodrama has its proper costume. What does one wear to the audition where the unruly daughter supplants the favored child? A Burberry mackintosh, of course. When your acting career has tanked, and you’re now managing a strip club for your uncle? A “well-cut suit . . . accessorized with a red lace camisole and black fishnets.’’ When you’re introducing your older sister to the Hollywood big-wig boyfriend she’s about to steal? A “white broderie anglaise vest and little pale blue Ralph Lauren shorts.’’
This is a world so focused on outer appearance that at one point Amber says to Chelsea, without irony: “You’re so hot! Look, your stomach’s almost as flat as mine, and your boobs are amazing!’’
Naturally, there’s plenty of sex on display. Straight sex, gay sex, underage sex, hot sex, creepy sex, sex in pools, sex on CCTV (closed caption TV - which the very rich use for in-home security, dahlings), and sex involving fuzzy handcuffs in a scene that could only transpire in a film producer’s mansion in Beverly Hills.
In the end, though, only noble Amber will realize that a life focused solely on fame is no ticket to happiness, although she’s willing to compromise her lifestyle only so far. She draws the line at flying in coach.
By this time, readers have been through so many plot twists that we’re ready to let both of these larger-than-life women go. Their stage-mother, Margaret, who turns out to be the most sympathetic character in the book, must learn to let them go as well. Could it be that Sharon Osbourne has a genuine moral to impart, that you can live only so much of your life through other people - even when those people are the most glamorous in the world? Only Ozzy knows for sure.
Erin Almond, a freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com.