There has been an on-going incident this spring amongst current and former hosts of The Talk in the wake of Piers Morgan’s comments about Meghan Markle. The latest chapter in this saga is that former Talk co-host Leah Remini has accused Sharon Osbourne of using racist and homophobic slurs when speaking about fellow co-hosts Julie Chen and Sara Gilbert.
Now “The Talk” has decided to part ways with Osbourne. Here’s what you need to know.
Leah Remini and Other Sources Said Osbourne Called Julie Chen ‘Slanty Eyes,’ Among Other Epithets
Journalist Yashar Ali published a piece this week in which Remini went on record with him about Osbourne’s behavior, which she said goes back to when the show premiered in 2010 with Osbourne, Chen, Remini, Sara Gilbert, and Holly Robinson Peete as the hosts.
Remini, a former Dancing With the Stars cast member and guest host, said that Osbourne took her to lunch before the show even premiered and told her “not to trust” Robinson Peete based on Osbourne’s experience appearing alongside her on The Celebrity Apprentice.
Remini said Osbourne told her, “Holly wasn’t a good person, not to trust her and that we should find ‘another Black person who is funny.'”
By the end of the first season of the show, Robinson Peete and Remini were both fired from the program at Osbourne’s direction, according to multiple sources.
Remini also said that Osbourne didn’t like Chen having such a powerful position on the show and wanted Gilbert, who was an executive producer as well as a co-host, to rein Chen in.
According to Remini, Osbourne said to her, “I mean, who the f*** does slanty eyes think she is? She shouldn’t be pillow-talking with our boss,” in reference to the Big Brother host’s marriage to then-CBS head Les Moonves. Remini said in another exchange, Osbourne said of Gilbert, who is openly gay, “Why won’t the p**** licker do anything about the wonton?” and “Why won’t the fish eater be part of this discussion? She’s the f***ing executive producer.”
Remini also said that she wishes she had spoken up at the time, telling Ali, “Not only did I do nothing about the racism and bullying I was receiving and witnessing, I was party to it. I had to own up to my own ugly.”
This All Started Over Osbourne’s Defense of Piers Morgan
British TV presenter Piers Morgan criticized Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying that he doesn’t believe any of Markle’s claims about the royal family.
“I don’t believe a word she says, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report and that fact that she fired up this onslaught against our royal family, I think is contemptible,” said Morgan on an episode of Good Morning Britain.
Morgan and the show later parted ways.
On the March 11 episode of The Talk, Osbourne was asked about her tweet defending Morgan in which she wrote, “I am with you. I stand by you. People forget that you’re paid for your opinion and that you’re just speaking your truth.”
Co-host Sheryl Underwood was particularly concerned that Osbourne was validating what many believe to be a racially-motivated opinion on Morgan’s part.
“What would you say to people who may feel that while you’re standing by your friend, it appears you gave validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don’t agree?” asked Underwood.
Osbourne became heated over her feeling that she was being accused of being racist, yelling at Underwood, “This is the situation. You tell me where you have heard him say … educate me, tell me when you have heard me say racist things! Educate me, tell me!”
In the wake of the exchange, CBS first put The Talk on hiatus.
Osbourne later told Variety she felt “blindsided” by the questions about Morgan.
“I was blindsided, totally blindsided by the whole situation. In my 11 years, this was the first time I was not involved with the planning of the segment,” said Osbourne, adding, “I was just so hurt, caught off guard and stunned by what I was being asked and not prepared. I was honestly in shock. I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter.”
Osbourne later posted an apology to Twitter and Instagram:
After some reflection, after sitting with your comments and sitting with my heart I would like to address the discussion on ‘The Talk’ this past Wednesday. I have always been embraced with so much love and support from the Black community and I have deep respect and love for the Black community. To anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said, I am truly sorry,” she tweeted. “I panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive and allowed my fear and horror of being accused of being racist take over. There are very few things that hurt my heart more than racism so to feel associated with that spun me fast! I am not perfect, I am still learning like the rest of us and will continue to learn, listen and do better.
She also told Variety, “I’m a work in progress. I want to learn; I’m willing to learn.”
But other sources tell Ali that Osbourne has a history of using racial slurs. Renee Tab, who owns a management company, encountered such a situation when she was a literary agent at ICM in 2003. She won a prize via a raffle at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by the Osbournes and was later accused of stealing it by Osbourne because she wasn’t an invited guest (she came as a plus-one with a guest invited by Jack Osbourne).
Tab, an Iranian American, said Osbourne repeatedly called her a “Persian carpet c***”, and multiple sources besides Remini confirmed to Ali that Osbourne referred to Chen as “slanty eyes” and “wonton” and also confirmed the homophobic slurs used in reference to Gilbert.
In response to Ali’s story, Osbourne issued a statement through her publicist that reads:
The only thing worse than a disgruntled former employee is a disgruntled former talk show host. For 11 years Sharon has been kind, collegial and friendly with her hosts as evidenced by throwing them parties, inviting them to her home in the UK and other gestures of kindness too many to name. Sharon is disappointed but unfazed and hardly surprised by the lies, the recasting of history and the bitterness coming out at this moment. She will survive this, as she always has and her heart will remain open and good, because she refuses to let others take her down. She thanks her family, friends and fans for standing by her and knowing her true nature.
‘The Talk’ Has Now Parted Ways With Osbourne
In a statement, CBS said that Osbourne’s views do not “align with our values for a respectful workplace,” though it did not specifically address Remini’s allegations. Here is the statement in full:
The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace. We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts.
At the same time, we acknowledge the Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race.
During this week’s hiatus, we are coordinating workshops, listening sessions and training about equity, inclusion and cultural awareness for the hosts, producers and crew. Going forward, we are identifying plans to enhance the producing staff and producing procedures to better serve the hosts, the production and, ultimately, our viewers.
There was a report from Page Six that Osbourne earned a payout of $5 million to $10 million when she was fired, but CBS has denied that report, telling the Los Angeles Times, “False, inaccurate or untrue. Take your pick.”
Chen has yet to respond to the whole incident directly. Earlier this month, she made an Instagram post of #STopAsianHate, writing, “We as a society need to come together as ONE and stop the hate. STOP the violence. Hateful speech and thought breeds violence. It all must stop here and now.”
The Talk is still on hiatus at CBS. Big Brother U.S. returns in summer 2021 for its 23rd season. Big Brother Canada returned for its ninth season on March 3.
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