Sharon Osbourne, long the “big girl with the big voice” at “The Talk,” doesn’t know if she’ll return after the network finishes its investigation of last week’s racially fueled dustup over her defense of Piers Morgan.
The production hiatus on CBS’ roundtable chat show, which was placed on a two-day break after Osbourne and co-host Sheryl Underwood tangled last Wednesday, was extended for a week Tuesday.
Osbourne, 68, told “Entertainment Tonight” that same day that she felt she’d been set up by CBS executives. She referred to a pact the panelists allegedly made in February after Carrie Ann Inaba caught fellow co-host Elaine Welteroth off guard with a question she had been given by producers.
Inaba, who is Asian American, asked Welteroth, who is Black, what Osbourne called a “very naive” question about why white people couldn’t use the N-word. After Welteroth and Inaba both wound up in tears, Osbourne said, they all agreed that, moving forward, they wouldn’t blindside one another with surprise questions.
"I can't keep living like this."
Last Wednesday, Osbourne said, a producer asked her if she would “clear up the Piers thing again” even if “maybe one of them doesn’t agree with you.” But she didn’t expect Welteroth to bring up anti-racism and she didn’t expect Underwood to imply she was giving cover to racism.
“I’ve been set up,” Osbourne told “ET,” describing her thoughts in the moment. “And I went, like, how dare you all do this to me? I’m your sacrificial lamb.”
Osbourne did admit to “having a go” at Underwood, her friend of 11 years, including when she told Underwood “don’t try and cry,” reserving that right for herself.
“I got too personal with Sheryl. I should never have said [anything] about her tears. I should never have dismissed her feelings on national TV. Ever. But I said it, I have to own it,” she said.
Then she added fiercely, “I was so angry. I cannot begin to tell you.” But not with Welteroth or Underwood. Her anger was directed at CBS, her network of 11 years.
“I think CBS was so horrified with Piers for the things he was saying — because remember, Harry and Meghan, it’s a CBS interview,” she said, alluding to her former “America’s Got Talent” co-worker’s comments that the former Meghan Markle was lying about her mental health and suicidal thoughts.
Morgan, who was promptly accused of racism for his responses to Meghan and Prince Harry’s Oprah Winfrey interview, quit “Good Morning Britain,” the TV show he co-hosted, after abruptly walking off set last week.
Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, reported Wednesday that it had received a record 57,121 complaints, including one from the Duchess of Sussex herself, related to his “Good Morning Britain” remarks about Meghan and Harry’s conversation with Winfrey. (“Only 57,000? I’ve had more people than that come up & congratulate me in the street for what I said,” Morgan said in a mocking tweet Wednesday.)
The Winfrey interview aired in the U.K. on March 8, a day after it was broadcast in the U.S. and drew high ratings.
“I had sided with Piers, so it’s the cancel culture, isn’t it? Throw her under the bus,” Osbourne said.
The panelist said “The Talk’s” two showrunners were in tears after the clash but refused to tell her the names of the execs they said had pushed the questioning.
Underwood, who prefaced her query by saying Osbourne had always been open to corrections and willing to learn, had asked her co-host what she would say to people who thought it looked like she was giving safe haven to racist comments.
Osbourne replied by asking Underwood to tell her what Morgan had said that was racist, and the chat spiraled quickly and emotionally from there.
“I feel even like I’m about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist,” Osbourne said on “The Talk.” “And for me, at 68 years of age, to have to turn around and say, ‘I ain’t racist.’ ... How can I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?”
Osbourne explained Tuesday to “ET,” “I just felt, this is the biggest setup ever, and I’m falling into it, and I’m going deeper down this hole.”
After the uncomfortable episode, more accusations emerged — from former “Talk” co-hosts Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini, who lasted only one season — that Osbourne had used slurs toward them and others during her stint on the show. Osbourne denied Peete’s allegation that she got the two fired from the show for being too “ghetto.”
Osbourne told “ET” that she had demanded an investigation into who proposed Underwood’s question and why she was “left out to dry” on national TV.
CBS said in a statement Tuesday that it was “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.”
Osbourne said she had apologized to Underwood but hadn’t heard back. She also apologized publicly last week via social media, noting that she was truly sorry “to anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said.”
As for the future of “The Talk,” Osbourne said, “I wish that we could go on and have a adult conversation calmly and work it out. But I don’t know whether we can. I don’t know whether it’s gone past that. But I don’t know whether I want to go back.
“I don’t know whether I’m wanted there.”
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