An Empty Chair
Julie Chen’s empty co-host chair needs to be filled. But Chen wasn’t just any co-host. She usually served as moderator, the only member at the table with a hard news background. So while other The Talk co-hosts have been replaced by various celebrities, finding a backfill for Chen means hunting for someone who can bring the same skills in the Big Brother host’s arsenal. Ahead, EW analyzes 13 possible contenders (in alphabetical order).
Yvette Nicole Brown
The Talk might already have its comic relief in Sheryl Underwood, but Community alum and comedian Yvette Nicole Brown has a style all her own. And it doesn’t hurt that she has experience moderating panels: She filled in as host of host of AMC’s The Talking Dead earlier this year, so why not do the same on a similarly titled show?
But, as Brown said when temporarily taking over that show while the network investigated claims against Chris Hardwick, she doesn’t really need the work. “I am not jockeying for a job. I have enough of my own,” she said at the time.
But maybe CBS is willing to, well, talk her into giving this one a try.
The former Today anchor is beloved by TV audiences, especially morning/daytime viewers. And she’s good at her job! Moderating won’t be a problem — she knows what it takes to be part of an ensemble panel, seems comfortable bouncing between a variety of topics, has great news judgment, and is an expert interviewer, among many other skills important to this position.
Then again, that may be why the job wouldn’t interest her — it might feel like a repeat of her days on Today, minus the hard news stories. Not to mention, the New York-based journalist, who reports and produces the PBS series We’ll Meet Again (season 2 premieres in November), may not want to take up residence on a new coast.
If she’s interested, though, so are we.
Carrie Ann Inaba
Known as one of Dancing With the Stars‘ judges, Inaba has Chen’s endorsement to replace her.
“You look awful good sitting in that chair, my Asian sister,” Chen said via pre-taped message the day she made her departure from The Talk official.
Armed with a bubbly and friendly personality (she’s a performer, after all), Inaba seems to fit in well with the rest of the show’s co-hosts — Sheryl Underwood, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, and Eve. But does she feel like “moderator” material, someone who can “run” the show? Not so much. That doesn’t mean she wouldn’t make a good addition to the daily proceedings, though.
Mother of three and host of Top Chef Junior, Lachey has plenty of TV experience to hold her own on The Talk. From MTV’s TRL to Entertainment Tonight, the 37-year-old’s poise and charm are undeniable — there’s a reason she was named Miss Congeniality when she was competing for Miss Teen USA (which she won!).
The seasoned host and journalist could be a fun addition to the group. She ticks a lot of the required boxes in terms of her on-air abilities, plus she’s smart, spirited, engaging…and has a killer and infectious laugh!
Menounos left E! News last year after learning she had a benign brain tumor, news she received after her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. While Menounos has said the situation forced her to slow down and prioritize her life, this setting could be the ideal place to take up a full-time job again, minus the stresses of red carpets and constant travel for celebrity interviews like she experienced at E! and previous gigs at Access Hollywood, Extra, and Entertainment Tonight.
This Nicaraguan-born, Republican strategist and political commentator may be a long shot, but if she has demonstrated anything during her regular stints as guest co-host on The View and years on CNN, it’s that she’s not afraid to express her opinion, even if it’s an unpopular one. That said, her thoughts on politics won’t be very relevant on The Talk, since the show avoids those topics for the most part.
The NBC News and CNN alum currently hosts the nationally syndicated political magazine Matter of Fact With Soledad O’Brien, giving a platform to a variety of social issues, including public health, housing costs, criminal justice, education, and more.
The 52-year-old would also certainly have a lot to say about motherhood, having four kids with her husband of 23 years. And with years of experience on live morning TV, she could easily navigate the lighter segments that come with the daytime territory.
The Entertainment Tonight co-anchor is no stranger to the Talk audience and stage (which is on the same studio lot as ET), frequently appearing as a guest and fill-in co-host.
In addition to years of experience as a journalist (she’s interviewed nearly every celebrity under the sun), the mother of one is also author of a parenting book, so she has her own perspective on all things mom.
If The Talk wants someone with hosting experience, 56-year-old O’Donnell has it in spades. She fronted her own daytime show from 1996-2002, and then was co-host and moderator of ABC’s The View from 2006-2007 (she was already set to leave following failed contract negotiations, but she departed the show early following an explosive on-air fight with co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck), returning for the 2014-2015 season, only to exit after six months (family and her health were later cited as reasons for her abrupt farewell). And CBS is getting her familiar with The Talk audience — she’s already in the guest co-host rotation. (Read critic Kristen Baldwin’s snap judgment of O’Donnell’s first appearance here.)
The Talk would certainly provide a more laid-back environment for O’Donnell; the show doesn’t dissect political topics, ones the Emmy-winning host often found herself heatedly debating, but instead focuses on women’s issues, relationships, health, lifestyle, pop culture, and more.
Of our list, her hiring would also make the biggest headlines, ones that would change the focus and discussion of Julie Chen’s departure amid sexual misconduct allegations against her husband (which he has denied) to a decidedly more positive topic.
The host of HLN’s daily two-hour program MichaeLA may be the least known of the group nationally, having spent nearly a decade as co-anchor of Los Angeles’ KTLA morning show.
She was great in her role there for a number of reasons, including her hard news chops, wit, magnetic personality, ability to think on her feet, and interviewing skills. She was an important part of that ensemble, and that could easily translate to The Talk‘s panel. Sadly, she’s likely not on CBS’ radar, but here’s hoping.
Another candidate with a robust entertainment news background, Sadler left E! News late last year after, she says, the network refused to increase her pay to match that of co-host Jason Kennedy, who was earning “double” her salary.
Sadler was also part of the network’s daytime show Daily Pop, a panel discussion of the day’s biggest stories, many of which she moderated. Hmmm, sound familiar?
Oh, and the 44-year-old mother of two has been at the other big table, guest co-hosting The View earlier this year.
Like Navarro, Teigen has no qualms about saying what’s on her mind — be it mundane, sarcastic, or sassy. But she also seems like someone who’s willing to listen to those who have opinions that differ from her own, is incredibly self-deprecating, and quick to admit her flaws and mistakes to a national audience. Just check out her Twitter feed.
And the Lip Sync Battle co-host has no shortage of things to bring to the table: The biracial model is a wife (she’s married to John Legend, in case you’re been living under a rock), mother of two (both conceived via in vitro fertilization), and she can certainly handle the show’s food segments — Teigen just released her second cookbook, Cravings.
While the moderator role may not be the best seat for her to fill, she is familiar with shows of this format: The 32-year-old was the food expert and panelist on Tyra Banks’ short-lived talk show, FABLife.
If The Talk is looking for a journalist to replace a journalist, here’s another great option.
After two decades covering natural disasters, wars, and other big stories, plus serving as one-time co-anchor of World News Tonight and more recently as co-host of 20/20, the 56-year-old mother of two left ABC News earlier this year for A+E, where she currently works on the network’s documentary programs.
In recent years Vargas found herself the subject of headlines when she entered rehab for alcholism, in the aftermath openly and honestly discussing her struggles with that and anxiety, all the while doing so with style and class, a trait she shares Curry (and Chen).
And it goes without saying that she could easily preside over the Talk table.