Leah Remini Says Sharon Osbourne Made "The Talk" a "Toxic Environment"
The former host claims Osbourne frequently called her co-stars offensive names and slurs.
As the show remains off the air for the time being, the public is learning more about the issues amongst hosts backstage at the long-running daytime series, The Talk. In a new interview, former host Leah Remini claims that Sharon Osbourne was not only responsible for her being fired from the show but also repeatedly used offensive names and slurs to refer to her castmates. Keep reading for the scope of Remini's allegations and what Osbourne has said in response. And for more daytime drama, Whoopi Goldberg Says This Guest Called The View Hosts an Awful Name.
The Talk was already on hiatus by the time Remini's claims were made public.
Following a heated on-air discussion between Osbourne and co-host Sheryl Underwood on the Mar. 10 episode of the show, CBS announced that production of The Talk would be paused while the network launched an internal review of the events. The conversation in question was about Osbourne's show of support for British broadcaster Piers Morgan, who claimed on his show that he didn't "believe a word" of what Meghan Markle said during her Mar. 7 interview with Oprah Winfrey, including what she shared the mental health issues she suffered. (ITV announced not long after his comments that Morgan would not be returning to Good Morning Britain.)
Underwood asked Osbourne, "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?" Osbourne defended herself by saying that she felt that she was "about to be put in the electric chair" because of her friendship with Morgan and said that neither of them were racist. She also demanded that Underwood not react emotionally, saying, "if anyone should be crying it should be me."
"How can I be racist about anybody?" Osbourne said. "How can I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?"
In the wake of that verbal exchange, former The Talk co-host Holly Robinson Peete tweeted, "I'm old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too 'ghetto' for #theTalk…then I was gone. I bring this up now bc I was mortified watching the disrespectful condescending tone she took w/her co host who remained calm & respectful because…she HAD to." Peete was only on the show for its first season, from 2010 to 2011.
For more on these events, check out This Is Why The Talk Just Abruptly Went on a Hiatus.
Remini says that Osbourne frequently used slurs when speaking about her co-hosts.
Remini was also let go from The Talk after the first season, and she also claimed, back in 2012, that Osbourne used the word "ghetto" to describe both her and Peete in lobbying for them to be fired. Osbourne called the assertion "false gossip" and said that she had never been "in the position to hire or fire anyone on the show," per Variety. On Mar. 13, she renewed that claim with a tweet. She also shared a congenial email sent to her by Peete after the latter was released from the show.
Journalist Yashar Ali spoke to several sources regarding Osbourne's behavior on The Talk for a piece in his newsletter, but said that most would not speak on the record because they had signed a non-disclosure agreement or "[feared] career retribution." Remini chose not to speak anonymously, going on record with several accusations of bullying and racist language against her former co-host.
Remini told Ali that Osbourne took her to lunch ahead of the show's first season and asked Remini to help her get Peete preemptively fired, saying, "Holly wasn't a good person, not to trust her and that we should find 'another Black person who is funny.'" She also said that Osbourne used racist terms to refer to former co-host Julie Chen, who's of Chinese descent, and offensive names for another former cast member, Sara Gilbert, who is gay, that disparaged her sexuality.
As for Remini, she recalled that Osbourne would use slurs for Italian people in conversation about her. She added that she feels guilty for participating in the "toxic environment" the bullying created on set and for not speaking out about Osbourne's remarks sooner. Ali wrote that other sources anonymously corroborated Remini's claims.
In a lengthy apology for her conversation with Underwood that was posted to her Twitter on Mar. 12, Osbourne claimed that she does "not condone racism, misogyny, or bullying."
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But the accusations don't stop there.
Ali's report includes instances where Osbourne has publicly made problematic statements, on The Talk and elsewhere. Though she claimed that "ghetto" is not a word she ever says, video exists of Osbourne referring to Remini's accent with that adjective during a 2011 episode of The Talk. She also argued in a 2018 episode that Markle "ain't Black" because "she doesn't look Black." In 2003, she accused an Iranian American woman who attended a party thrown by her family of stealing jewelry that she won in a raffle during the event, going so far as to send out a press release alleging the theft and filing a police report. The woman, an agent named Renee Tab, was invited to the party by Sharon's son Jack Osbourne and told Ali that Osbourne repeatedly called her slurs and spit on her when they met again at a restaurant months later.
Osbourne's team claims that Remini is "disgruntled."
When reached by Ali for comment, Osbourne's publicist provided the following statement in response to the claim's made in the article:
"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."
Ali noted that CBS did not respond to requests for comment. However, shortly after the article was published, the network sent Ali a statement saying that the hiatus of The Talk will be extended to Mar. 23 as the investigation continues. And for stars who lost their jobs in similar situations, here are 6 Celebrities Who Were Fired After Being Accused of Racism.