The Shady Truth About The Talk

The following article includes allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Talk co-hosts have a habit of becoming just as talked about as the topics they discuss on their show. It helps that the revolving cast is comprised of celebrities who have spent years in the entertainment industry. And when your job is discussing hot-button issues on an almost daily basis, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually say something that you live to regret. 

Since its premiere in 2010, The Talk has seen its fair share of drama, from questionable hirings and firings to controversial discussions about the big news of the day. Sometimes, the on-air tension can be enough to make viewers squirm. The show’s cast of women, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, has included the likes of Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini, Aisha Tyler, Sheryl Underwood, Eve, Carrie Ann Inaba, Marie Osmond, Amanda Kloots, and Elaine Welteroth. 

But some of these co-hosts have caused more drama than others, as you’ll discover when we take a deep dive into the shady side of The Talk.

Julie Chen was accused of using her marriage to threaten her co-hosts on The Talk

Sara Gilbert executive produced The Talk and appeared on it when it launched in 2010, but there were whispers that one of the show’s other original stars, Julie Chen, was the co-host with the most power. During the show’s first TCA panel, Chen said she was aware that her marriage to Les Moonves, the then-president and CEO of CBS, would make some viewers wonder whether her husband helped her score a spot on the show’s panel (via Deadline).

Chen confessed that she would have the same thoughts about her marriage if she were on the outside looking in, and thanks to her gigs as an anchor on The Early Show and the host of Big Brother, she was prepared to deal with the speculation. “When we got married, me being a news person, working for the company, everything that can be said, has been said, it can’t get any worse,” she stated.

However, things did get worse when nasty rumors about Chen’s alleged behavior began to circulate. In 2011, sources cited by the New York Post (via The Hollywood Reporter) claimed that she was threatening her co-hosts by saying, “My husband can fire your a**es any day.” Moonves denied the allegations during an interview with Newsweek.

Holly Robinson Peete was kept in the dark about her job status

Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper star Holly Robinson Peete became one of the first co-hosts to get the boot in 2011, and she claimed that losing her job was more unpleasant than it had to be. After she was fired, Peete told The Hollywood Reporter how her dismissal went down. Apparently, no one had informed her that her job was in jeopardy when she first began “hearing rumors that other people” would be joining The Talk panel, so her initial thought was, “That’s going to be a crowded table.”

Peete recalled trying to get information about the show’s shakeup from her agents and others, but to no avail: she reportedly didn’t learn that she’d been fired until a couple days prior to the Season 2 premiere, and she “tuned in” hoping to get answers. However, her absence and that of Leah Remini’s were not explained. She deemed the experience “the most frustrating time of my professional life.”

On her personal blog, Peete explained why being kept in the dark about her imminent dismissal for so long was especially frustrating. According to E!, she wrote that being under contract kept her “from moving on and finding other work.” Peete refused to address rumors that Julie Chen had something to do with her firing, but she did say that she believed it had nothing to do with her performance. According to journalist Yashar Ali, she later learned that Sharon Osbourne reportedly orchestrated her dismissal.

Leah Remini alleged that Sharon Osbourne got her and Holly Robinson Peete fired

While Holly Robinson Peete initially did not point any fingers after her firing, King of Queens star Leah Remini took a much different approach. The firebrand actor had no qualms about blaming Sharon Osbourne for her dismissal, and she even claimed to know why her co-host campaigned to have her replaced.

In 2012, Remini tweeted that Osbourne wanted her and Peete fired because she reportedly thought that they were “ghetto.” Osbourne clapped back on Twitter, accusing her former co-host of spreading “false gossip” and engaging in “negative, unprofessional, and childish behavior.” She also wrote that she has no control over who gets fired and hired on The Talk. During a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, however, Remini confessed that it was the right move to fire her because she was “not good at interviewing celebrities” or following her bosses’ directions. 

Speaking of bosses, CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler addressed Remini and Peete’s dismissals during a question-and-answer session at the 2012 TCA winter press tour. While discussing the importance of having “chemistry between you hosts” (via The Hollywood Reporter), she said, “Ultimately we are looking at a dynamic. We were looking at a quality in the relationship and a quality in the conversations.” Tassler also seemed to suggest that the cast needed a shakeup because ratings were stagnant, and in a departure from the show’s original format, Remini and Peete were replaced by two non-moms, Aisha Tyler and Sheryl Underwood.

Some of The Talk co-hosts laughed over a gruesome story

During a 2011 episode of The Talk, one topic of discussion was Catherine Kieu, a woman who was found guilty of drugging her husband, tying him up while he was sleeping, and cutting off his penis. She then tossed it in a garbage disposal. Kieu was “sentenced to life in state prison with the possibility of parole” in 2013, per CBS Los Angeles.

According to The Washington Post, most of The Talk co-hosts chuckled while talking about Kieu’s actions. “I don’t know the circumstances,” Sharon Osbourne said. “However, I do think it’s quite fabulous.” She also joked that Kieu should have thrown the appendage in a dog bowl instead. “Chewin’ on an old bone,” she cracked, as per BroBible. Sara Gilbert tried to convince her co-hosts that the story was no laughing matter, pointing out that they would not find it funny if “somebody cut a woman’s breast off.” However, her argument didn’t affect Osbourne’s opinion, as she claimed, “It’s different.”

After the segment was lambasted by angry netizens, Osbourne apologized on the show and stated that she does not condone genital mutilation, per The Telegraph. Meanwhile, comedian Bill Burr thrust the segment back into the spotlight in 2016 by mentioning it on his Monday Morning podcast. “Do you think that if a guy mutilated a woman in any shape or form, that four guys on a pregame NFL show would be making fun of it?” he said (via BroBible).

Sharon Osbourne apologized for a foul-mouthed attack on The Talk's rivals

When two shows have similar formats and are competing for the same viewers, it’s easy for their cast members to view each other as rivals. However, Sharon Osbourne took her rivalry with the women of The View a bit too far in 2013. During an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, Osbourne only spared one star of The View from her barbed tongue when she was asked how The Talk differs from the ABC show. “The situation is … Barbara. Idolize her. Divine. She is superhuman,” she said (via Today). “I love Barbara Walters. The rest can go (bleep) themselves.” The panel members Osbourne insulted were Jenny McCarthy, Sherri Shepherd, and Whoopi Goldberg.

According to the outlet, Osbourne was forced to apologize for her “irreverent behavior,” but she did so in a jocular manner. “I have to own this, I’m fully responsible for myself — some of the time,” she quipped on The Talk. “Unfortunately, I was inappropriate and I was trying to be funny at somebody else’s expense.”

However, later that year, Osbourne shared her opinion of The View cast again while chatting with Howard Stern on his radio show. She and Julie Chen agreed that Jenny McCarthy was a bad fit for the panel due to the show’s political slant. “You knew what to expect,” Osbourne said, per the Los Angeles Times. “You watched it for their different opinions, and now it’s kind of all over the place.”

Sheryl Underwood made offensive remarks about 'Afro hair' on The Talk

In 2013, Sheryl Underwood angered viewers after sharing her opinion about Heidi Klum’s revelation that she saves clippings from her biracial children’s Afros. During a YourTango interview, Klum described the hair as “beautiful” and said that she used some of it for art projects.

For her part, Underwood opined that the boys’ hair wasn’t worth saving. “Why would you save Afro hair? You can’t weave… Afro hair. You don’t ever see [Black women] in the hair store asking for curly, nappy beaded hair,” she said on The Talk (via Ebony). “That’s just nasty.” Meanwhile, when Sara Gilbert said that she also saves her son’s hair, Underwood had no issue with her collection of clippings, saying that they were “probably some beautiful, long silky stuff.”

As Ebony writer LaParis Hawkins pointed out, Underwood’s comments especially upset Black women, as those who rock natural Afro styles already struggle with “negative hair stereotypes” enough as it is without a high-profile celebrity making hurtful remarks about their hair. The Talk co-host was also blasted on Twitter, and she later apologized during a Curly Nikki interview. Assuring viewers that she is not ashamed of her own natural hair, Underwood said, “I’m not perfect and I bet if you put a camera on someone all day, they’d eventually say something they’d regret too. I am asking you to forgive me for the statement I made, which to me, is a power only God has, really.”

Sharon Osbourne made a controversial joke about Teresa Giudice

Sharon Osbourne added to her ever-growing record of regretful remarks in 2016 by making a crude joke about The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice. At the time, Giudice had just been released from FCI Danbury after serving an 11-month stint in the federal prison — and Osbourne seemed to believe that the reality star’s sentence wasn’t harsh enough. 

As reported by the Daily Mail, Osbourne claimed on The Talk that it’s “so stereotypical” for a “two-bit celebrity” to get out of prison, and suggested that Giudice would try to profit off her experience. Many viewers may have agreed with her assessment of the situation at first, but then Osbourne’s rant took a cringeworthy turn. “They sell a story. Everybody wants to hear their story,” she alleged. “Were you raped, love? God, I hope she wasn’t. At least she would have gotten some enjoyment out of it.” Unsurprisingly, that particular suggestion upset a lot of viewers.

Luckily for Osbourne, she was well-practiced at apologizing when it came time to explain herself. “People who know me know that I would never mean harm by saying that to people who have been in that situation,” she said during the next episode of The Talk. However, Osbourne also made it clear that she didn’t care if her comments bothered Giudice, adding, “So I apologize if I have offended or hurt anybody other than that woman that we were talking about.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resource.

Julie Chen left The Talk after her husband was accused of sexual misconduct

While Julie Chen’s co-hosting job survived speculation that she procured it unfairly through her husband, she decided to leave The Talk after his alleged conduct became a topic that the women on the show couldn’t ignore. As reported by TVLine, Les Moonves was let go as CBS CEO and chairman in September 2018 after he was accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct.

After the first allegations against her husband were laid out in an exposé by The New Yorker that July, Chen released a statement on Twitter making it clear that she was standing by her very powerful man. However, she refused to say anything more about the topic on The Talk. “I have issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter,” she told the audience (via Deadline). “And I will stand by that statement today, tomorrow, forever.”

The day after her husband’s firing, Chen was absent from The Talk panel. She released a statement saying that she was “taking a few days off” to be with her family, but she reassured fans that she would “be back soon” (via TVLine). On the show, Sharon Osbourne described the situation as “embarrassing and upsetting,” and she came clean about being asked to release a statement in support of Moonves months earlier. A few days later, Chen confirmed that she was exiting The Talk in a video filmed on The Big Brother set.

Sharon Osbourne insisted that Megan Markle isn't Black

In October 2018, the topic of Megan Markle’s first pregnancy came up on The Talk. Sheryl Underwood stated that the Duchess of Sussex “brought Blackness to the royal family” when she procreated with Prince Harry … and for some reason, Sharon Osbourne took issue with her remark. “She ain’t Black,” Osbourne claimed (via USA Today). When co-host Eve informed Osbourne that Markle was indeed “half Black,” Osbourne wouldn’t drop the subject, alleging that the former Suits star “doesn’t look Black… to anybody.”

Right before The Talk went to commercial break, Eve jumped in to say that the topic of whether or not someone looks Black is a “whole different discussion.” After the show returned, Osbourne apologized and attempted to clarify her comments: “When I said Meghan is not Black; where I come from she is mixed race. She is not white, not Black — mixed race.” For her part, Eve later defended Osbourne by telling the Daily Mail that she was “just being her honest self.”

Osbourne could argue all day about how to describe Markle’s race, but the actor herself knows one sad truth about the color of her skin: people treat her differently because of it. During a 2015 Elle interview, Markle said that new acquaintances often question her about her race due to her appearance. Years later, Markle claimed to Oprah Winfrey that a member of the royal family made racist remarks about how dark her son, Archie’s, skin would be while she was still pregnant.

Eve had to walk back on comments made about Chris Brown on The Talk

Chris Brown became a public pariah in 2009 after he physically assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna. While Brown’s behavior got him slapped with a restraining order, it didn’t get him “canceled” — he and Rihanna eventually (temporarily) reunited, and his music career continued.

Brown’s actions did give him a reputation, though, so Eve was quick to criticize him on The Talk when he was detained in Paris on a rape accusation in January 2019. As reported by ET, she said that she didn’t know whether the allegations were true, but the Ruff Ryders’ first lady still had some rough words for the recording artist. “It’s really a shame. I mean, obviously we know he’s had trouble in the past, and it’s like, when are you going to stop and grow up and allow the talent to shine through and fix your brain?” she stated.

Eve was slammed on social media for bashing Brown over a charge of which he hadn’t been found guilty, and she apologized for her remarks in an Instagram video. Admitting that she had been “kind of harsh” (via ET), she explained why she reacted the way that she did: “It was only harsh because I’m passionate about the climate that we’re in right now with women and all these allegations coming out. My passion wasn’t geared towards Chris Brown and these specific allegations.”

Sharon Osbourne warned Chrissy Teigen that things could 'get ugly' over a holiday song feud

Sharon Osbourne wasn’t feeling very holly and jolly in November 2019 after she heard John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s rewritten and “woke” version of the problematic holiday classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The Voice co-coaches altered the lyrics significantly, adding lines like, “It’s your body and your choice” and “Text me when you get home” (via Page Six). On The Talk, Osbourne deemed the reimagined version “ridiculous,” as reported by Us Weekly.

When ET asked Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, about Osbourne’s criticism, she simply waved it off, suggesting that generating drama is part of The Talk panelist’s job. Teigen also referenced her short stint on a similar daytime talk show, FABLife. “Sharon’s always going to have something to say, it’s her job,” she said. “I remember those days of getting to talk s**t for money. It’s very fun.”

While Teigen’s remarks seemed pretty innocuous, Osbourne was all fired up when she fired back on The Talk. “It’s amazing that you remember those days, cause the show you were on didn’t even last a season,” she said (via Hollywood Life). Um, yikes. However, her next insult was less effective — she gloated about being “born into the (music) industry” instead of supposedly marrying into it like Teigen did. While she described Teigen as “lovely,” Osbourne also had a warning for her: “Don’t start anything cause I know it will get ugly.”

Sheryl Underwood made inappropriate comments about an NBA star's body

Sheryl Underwood confessed to breaking an unwritten rule of female sports reporters by looking at a disrobed male athlete after a game. Her failure to redirect her gaze wasn’t the only issue with her locker room behavior — as she later described what she saw on The Talk in 2020.

The incident occurred inside the Dallas Mavericks locker room when Underwood was working for a radio station in Grand Prairie, Texas, as reported by 98.7 KLUV. Explaining said that Dirk Nowitzki’s towel had “spread apart” to reveal the NBA star’s manhood, Underwood recalled thinking to herself, “That is so big and pretty.”

Naturally, viewers took to Twitter to decry Underwood’s remarks as inappropriate. One person argued that a male talk show host would find himself in hot water if he made similar comments about the body of a female athlete. However, Underwood’s co-hosts had a good laugh at her story and even joked about it. “I bet they weren’t able to get you out of there,” quipped Carrie Ann Inaba. To which Underwood replied, “No, they weren’t.”

Did Sheryl Underwood and Sharon Osbourne team up to oust Marie Osmond from The Talk?

There were whispers that Marie Osmond was a bit too nice for two of her catty co-stars’ liking when she replaced Sara Gilbert on The Talk in 2019. One sign that all was not well between Osmond and Sharon Osbourne came in April 2020. After Osmond said that she was “intrigued” by the coronavirus, Osbourne criticized her choice of words. Osmond admitted to misspeaking and extended an olive branch to her co-host. “I’m just like you, Sharon,” she said (via the Daily Mail). To which Osbourne snapped in response, “You’re nothing like me.”

While appearing on Watch What Happens Live that May, Osmond downplayed the exchange and claimed that she and Osbourne were “great friends.” However, an insider claimed otherwise while speaking to The Sun about some juicy behind-the-scenes drama. The source alleged that Osbourne and Sharon Underwood were “jealous” of Osmond and never wanted her on the show. They reportedly refused to socialize with her and talked about her “behind her back,” with one of their supposed complaints being that Osmond was “too sugary sweet.”

According to Page Six, another CBS insider claimed that Osbourne and Underwood went to CBS executives and threatened to quit if Osmond was not given the boot. She left after one season, but said that she was doing so to “pursue other projects.” Osbourne seemed to like the four-panelist format that her absence created, telling ET that September that it gave the remaining women “more time to talk.”

Sharon Osbourne had a tense exchange with Sheryl Underwood while discussing racism

Sharon Osbourne would live to regret having more time to talk after a March 2021 discussion about racism landed her in major hot water. It all started when Osbourne defended her pal, Piers Morgan, after he said that he didn’t “believe” Meghan Markle when she told Oprah Winfrey that she had struggled with suicidal thoughts, per CNN. Morgan made the remarks on Good Morning Britain, and later basically quit the show instead of apologizing.

Osbourne got angry and upset while discussing her defense of Morgan with co-host Sheryl Underwood, who was patiently trying to explain why Morgan’s remarks could be construed as being racist. “Don’t try and cry ’cause if anyone should be crying it should be me,” Osbourne said during the emotional exchange. She then asked Underwood to point to specific comments Morgan made that were racist. “It is not the exact words of racism. It’s the implication and the reaction to it,” said Underwood. “To not want to address that because she [Markle] is a Black woman and to try to dismiss it or to make it seem less than what it is, that’s what makes it racist.”

On Twitter, Osbourne was blasted for the way she handled the situation. Former co-host Holly Robinson Peete was one viewer who had something to say about it. “I’m old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too ‘ghetto’ for #theTalk…then I was gone,” she tweeted.

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Leah Remini accused Sharon Osbourne of making offensive remarks about her co-hosts on The Talk

After Sharon Osbourne’s heated exchange with Sheryl Underwood, The Talk was placed on hiatus while CBS conducted an internal review into the incident. Unfortunately for Osbourne, the situation got worse for her during the break.

Years after she first accused Sharon Osbourne of calling her and Holly Robinson Peete “ghetto,” Leah Remini claimed that her former coworker made racist and homophobic remarks about two of the show’s other panelists. In March 2021, she told Yashar Ali that Osbourne allegedly referred to Julie Chen as “slanty eyes” and “wonton.” Remini also claimed that Osbourne used homophobic slurs while expressing frustration with Sara Gilbert for not siding with her against Chen. “Why won’t the p***y licker do anything about the wonton?” Remini recalled Osbourne allegedly saying. She further claimed that Osbourne referred to Gilbert as “the fish eater.”

According to Remini, Osbourne allegedly tried to get Peete ousted before the show even premiered, and supposedly told Remini that they needed to find “another Black person who is funny” to replace her. Osbourne’s publicist denied the allegations in a statement that aimed to discredit Remini by calling her “a disgruntled former employee” (via Us Weekly). Meanwhile, Ali talked to 11 sources who accused Osbourne of “bullying” her coworkers and making derogatory remarks about them.

Sharon Osbourne blasted CBS executives before leaving The Talk

While The Talk was still on hiatus, Sharon Osbourne spoke to Variety in a move that reportedly angered CBS executives, according to Yashar Ali. Osbourne attempted to blame her behavior on the actions of producers by claiming that she was “blindsided” when Sheryl Underwood brought up her defense of Piers Morgan. She also complained about not being involved in the planning of the segment, which was a luxury she’d always had in the past. “I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter,” Osbourne said.

During another interview with ET, Osbourne expressed frustration that she had not been given cards with the exact questions that Underwood would be asking her written on them. While she felt like The Talk producers had set her up, she also admitted that she was in the wrong. “I got too personal with Sheryl,” Osbourne stated. “I should’ve never said stop her tears.”

A few days after Osbourne accused her bosses of shady behavior, CBS announced that she would not be returning to The Talk. “As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her cohosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace,” the network’s statement read (via Us Weekly). “We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the host.”

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