Sharon Osbourne accused of racist and 'toxic' behavior at The Talk
Leah Remini and others have accused Osbourne of creating a "toxic environment" at the CBS talk show.
Multiple sources accused Sharon Osbourne of making racist and offensive remarks over the course of her tenure on The Talk in a report published Tuesday. A representative for Osbourne denied all the allegations to EW, while CBS extended the show's hiatus amid the controversy.
Journalist Yashar Ali reported the accusations in an article published via his Substack newsletter. Among Ali's sources was former The Talk cohost Leah Remini, who claimed Osbourne helped create a "toxic environment" at the show through "high school vitriol, hatred and bullying." Remini was fired after the show's first season, allegedly at the direction of Osbourne, who has remained a cohost since the show's debut in 2010.
Among other allegations, Ali reports that Remini and others claimed Osbourne called her former cohost Julie Chen "wonton" and "slanty eyes"; referred to The Talk creator and former cohost Sara Gilbert, who is a lesbian, as "p---y licker" and "fish eater"; and, as Ali writes, "will one minute attack a co-host or staff member unprovoked, using harsh and inappropriate language, and the next minute buy them lavish gifts accompanied by a self-disparaging note in a half-hearted attempt to apologize."
Furthermore, in a tweet on Friday, Holly Robinson Peete — another former The Talk cohost who was fired along with Remini after the first season — wrote, "I'm old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too 'ghetto' for #theTalk…then I was gone." Osbourne denied the allegation in a tweet the next day, writing, "Never in my life did I utter the words that Holly was 'too ghetto' to be on the Talk, as well as not having her fired." (Representatives for Peete declined to comment.)
In a statement provided to EW, Osbourne's publicist said, "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 U.K. 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."
Representatives for Remini, Gilbert, and Chen did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
This report comes in the wake of controversy that began when Osbourne defended British TV host Piers Morgan, who said he didn't believe that Meghan Markle struggled with mental health and thought of suicide, as she told Oprah Winfrey during their recent interview. On Wednesday's episode of The Talk, Osbourne had a heated exchange with cohost Sheryl Underwood about her defense of Morgan, with Osbourne saying she was "not racist."
"Did I like everything he said? Did I agree with what he said? No," she added. "Because it's his opinion. It's not my opinion… I support him for his freedom of speech, and he's my friend."
Osbourne later told Variety that she was "blindsided" by the questions about Morgan, that she was "stunned by what I was being asked and not prepared," and that "the showrunners told me it came from executives to do this to me."
On Sunday, CBS announced it was investigating the matter and that The Talk would cancel its Monday and Tuesday live shows. The hiatus was extended for the rest of the week after the publication of Ali's article.
"CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace across all of our productions," a network spokesperson told EW in a statement. "We're also very mindful of the important concerns expressed and discussions taking place regarding events on The Talk. This includes a process where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary. The show will extend its production hiatus until next Tuesday as we continue to review these issues."