The talk about The Talk in recent weeks has been all about longtime co-host Sharon Osbourne, whose controversial defense of Piers Morgan led to allegations of racism at the series, which went on a break so that CBS could conduct an internal investigation. Now, Osbourne is officially out from The Talk, making her the last of the original hosts to exit the series and undoubtedly the most controversial despite the circumstances of Julie Chen's departure.
The beginning of the end of her time on The Talk began on March 10, when Sharon Osbourne's defense of Piers Morgan and comments that he made about Meghan Markle resulted in her telling fellow host Sheryl Underwood, a Black woman who has worked with Osbourne for more than a decade, to educate her about racism. The Talk went into an unplanned hiatus, but the storm continued as original series co-hosts Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete came forward with allegations of racist behavior from Osbourne, along with alleged homophobic comments about creator and former co-host Sara Gilbert.
An internal investigation went underway, and now THR confirms that Osbourne is out after 11 years on The Talk. Sharon Osbourne has not yet commented on her exit from The Talk at the time of writing, but CBS explained the situation in a statement, saying:
Sharon Osbourne has decided to leave The Talk. 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.
The CBS statement indicates that Sharon Osbourne herself made the decision to leave rather than CBS or anybody at The Talk firing her, but that doesn't mean there was much choice in the matter given the reveal that her behavior didn't "align" with the network's "values for a respectful workplace." According to the statement, the internal investigation showed that Osbourne made the comments that kicked off the controversy without being set up by any executives, nor was Sheryl Underwood's reaction, which does pretty firmly place the blame on Osbourne.
That said, CBS also committed to enhancing "the producing staff and producing procedures" in ways that will serve the hosts better, as well as the production team and viewers watching from home. At this point, the network admits that there were some failings that went beyond Sharon Osbourne in the situation on March 10, but Osbourne is the only one confirmed to be leaving the show, which may indicate that her departure is due to behavior behind-the-scenes and beyond that episode contributed to the decision.
The Talk is expected to return to CBS without Sharon Osbourne on Monday, April 12. It's not clear at this point how or when The Talk intends to replace Osbourne with a new co-host, and it's entirely possible that The Talk will simply proceed with her slot empty until the right replacement is found.
The show has cycled through many hosts over its eleven seasons so far, with the most memorable departure prior to Osbourne being Julie Chen, who stepped away after allegations of misconduct were leveled against her husband, then-CBS CEO Les Moonves. More recently, The Talk added Amanda Kloots (who shared her husband's struggle and ultimate loss to COVID on social media) and Elaine Welteroth.