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The Talk has reportedly extended its hiatus, after it was anticipated to resume Wednesday, for CBS to investigate last Wednesday's contentious debate about race — though how it will play out is the big question. And whether co-host Sharon Osbourne will be there for it as she now faces new allegations of racism behind-the-scenes on the show.
A rep for the daytime talk show has not responded to Yahoo Entertainment's request for comment, but the show is expected to return on March 23. In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for CBS said the network "is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace across all of our productions. 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."
Yahoo has reached out to a rep for Osbourne, whose initial comments led to the investigation, but we have yet to receive an answer.
Since it was announced the show would be dark amid CBS's investigation, there have been new claims against Osbourne. Journalist Yashar Ali says he spoke with 11 people — including former co-host Leah Remini, who was axed after Season 1 alongside Holly Robinson Peete — about remarks Osbourne has made over the years. Among the new allegations against Osbourne is that she called former moderator Julie Chen "slanty eyes" and "wonton" and former co-host/producer Sara Gilbert, who is a lesbian, a "fish eater." Remini, who says Osbourne called her Italian slurs including "WOP" and "Guinea," also corroborated Robinson Pete's claim last week that Osbourne tried to get her fired and called her "too ghetto" for the show. (Remini claims Osbourne told her, “Holly wasn’t a good person, not to trust her and that we should find ‘another Black person who is funny.'")
Osbourne is repped by crisis public relations expert Howard Bragman, who told Ali in her defense: “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.”
A spokesperson for CBS declined to comment to Ali.
Also circulating on social media is an old clip of Osbourne on the show in 2018 saying Meghan Markle "doesn't look Black." When the hosts say, she's a Black woman, with a Black mother and white father, Osbourne insists, "She ain't Black.... She doesn't look Black."
Sharon Osbourne on Meghan Markle in 2018:
“She ain’t black. She doesn’t look black.” pic.twitter.com/e4pRoHD2gW
— chris evans (@chris_notcapn) March 14, 2021
"Right now, it's ratings gold for CBS when they come back," crisis PR expert David E. Johnson, the CEO and founder of Strategic Vision PR Group, tells Yahoo Entertainment, adding, "If they come back."
He continues, "Everyone is going to tune it, but the question is: How does this dynamic play out?"
Osbourne, 68, didn't come off looking too slick last week defending her friend Piers Morgan's comments about Markle's Oprah interview. Morgan said on Good Morning Britain that he didn't believe anything Markle said in the tell-all, which included the duchess's claim she experienced racism within the royal family. He was also dismissive of Markle sharing that she had suicidal thoughts. Good Morning Britain's network ITV received more than 40,000 complaints about Morgan's comments, and when Morgan was called out for it on-air, he stormed off the set — and quit.
Amid that drama, Osbourne, 68, tweeted that she stood by Morgan — and co-host Sheryl Underwood questioned her about it on Wednesday's show. It got heated with Osbourne saying Morgan wasn't racist — and neither is she. "What have I ever said about anybody that is racist?" she demanded to know. New co-host Elaine Welteroth tried to explain "unconscious bias," but the conversation really went nowhere as Osbourne dug her feet in the ground, leading Welteroth — who just joined the show this year — to remark on how uncomfortable it was. After a commercial break, things were even more tense. Osbourne, holding a tissue and clearly upset, asked Underwood and Welteroth to "Educate me. Tell me when you have heard him say racist things?"
After the show, Welteroth and her hairstylist reportedly issued complaints to CBS about racial insensitivity on set. For her part, Osbourne told Variety that she "felt like I was in front of a firing squad," and claimed that CBS executives set her up. "I blame the network for it. I was blindsided, totally blindsided by the whole situation."
"The next 48 hours are big" in determining Osbourne's fate with the show, says Johnson. "Usually if there's something there, they all come out at once" — as we are seeing now. "Different context, but look at Andrew Cuomo," the New York State governor who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. "After one broke, the others instantly followed."
So how does Osbourne play it? "She's going to have to address the racial issue" immediately, suggests Johnson, who doesn't work with her. "She'll have to reaffirm again that she denounces racism, and that she — like all people — needs to be very sensitive, and that words matter. But she needs to take the high road. If someone accuses her of racism, she needs to flatly deny it and then move on. If she keeps talking about it constantly, it's all that we're going to be talking about."
And Osbourne will have a lot more to address now — with Remini's damaging allegations — than she did just a day ago. One wonders if this is something she can recover from at all, even though she's arguably the star of the show.
"She's the draw in many ways for a lot of people," Johnson says." She's the name people associate with The Talk," as other bigger personalities — Chen, Sara, Remini and Marie Osmond — have come and gone during the show's 10-year run. "But it doesn't mean she's indispensable."
And if she goes, "The way the show survives is they bring in a big name that's going to attract people. Very much like The View brought in Whoopi Goldberg," after Rosie O'Donnell left the first time and ahead of Barbara Walters's retirement. "The Talk could go on without Sharon. But unless they have a major star lined up," to sit with Underwood, Welteroth, Amanda Kloots and Carrie Ann Inaba, "it's hard to see a long-term future for the show," which has been struggling in the ratings.
Before Tuesday's damaging report from Ali, it seemed that the Osbourne drama could be smoothed over. Johnson points out, "Let's not forget — Ellen DeGeneres had all those problems last summer. People thought she was going to go under, but she's still on." But this has escalated, especially with the voices of Remini and Robinson Peete and the claims they are making.
While CBS and Hollywood have been known for calling for investigations that lead to no real changes as a result of the findings, Johnson thinks there will have to be changes this time.
"The difference here is that race is front and center and social media" is propelling it. "It's hard just to placate that. People are not going to be satisfied" without repercussions, "They want more. And that's holding CBS's feet to the fire."
Even if this is the end of Osbourne's days on The Talk, which seems like a strong possibility if these allegations are substantiated, there's still a good chance she'd recover personally. Osbourne has been in the industry for so long, in so many different roles — from managing Ozzy, being one of the first reality stars with The Osbournes, a judge of America's Got Talent — that she's used to reinventing herself. But these would be next-level efforts.
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