Osbourne and Weidman take on troublesome haunts on Travel Channel’s ‘Portals to Hell’

‘Portals to Hell’ – Who ya gonna call?

Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman star in “Portals to Hell,” premiering Friday on Travel Channel.

There are hauntings and then there are phenomena that are more sinister.

Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman know the difference, both as people who grew up in haunted houses and Weidman as a professional paranormal investigator. Together, they check out places with sordid pasts and dark histories in the new Travel Channel series “Portals to Hell.”

Premiering Friday, April 26, the hourlong series follows Osbourne (“The Osbournes,” “Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour”), Weidman (“Paranormal State,” “Paranormal Lockdown”), their crew and an array of specialized technology as they cross the country to investigate locations with a history of notorious spirit activity. In the eight episodes, the duo look into hauntings at LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, Bobby Mackey’s World of Music in Kentucky and Ohio’s Twin City Opera House, among others.

In Friday’s opener, Osbourne (who is also an executive producer) and Weidman check in at the Alaskan Hotel in Juneau, a place with a reputation for spirits that menace lodgers in the night, where they set about challenging the apparitions in the hopes of provoking activity.

Katrina Weidman and Jack Osbourne star in “Portals to Hell,” premiering Friday on Travel Channel.

“We try different methods to see what will get activity to happen,” Weidman explains, “because sometimes you go into it, like the Alaskan, they were telling us, ‘Oh, if you come down here and start challenging them, that’s when you get activity.’ So to me, it’s like, well, let’s put it to the test. … Sometimes it doesn’t always work, sometimes you get activities that will start and sometimes it’ll be light, sometimes it’ll be heavy. It’s hard to say. There’s certain patterns you look for but not everything is exact. You know, that’s part of the work we try to do is figure out those patterns.”

While Weidman and Osbourne try to approach their research objectively, they do admit to being spooked from time to time. Such was the case for Osbourne when he saw something at Eastern State Penitentiary that got his heart pounding.

“I saw a shadow walking down one of the cell blocks,” he recalls. “It looked like it walked out of one cell and into another and then the cell that it walked into all of a sudden, there was this art display, like this installation in the cell because it’s an old prison that’s been turned into a museum. Even the staff … were like, ‘That should not turn on. It’s on a timer. It’s not scheduled to turn on until 10 o’clock in the morning.’ It was freaky. And then probably about an hour later, one of our producers went into a cell to take a picture and something spoke to him in there and he was like, ‘I want out of here, now.’ ”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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