A complete timeline of the Sharon Osbourne ‘The Talk’ controversy as show extends hiatus

Shannon McDonagh
Friday 19 March 2021 17:42
Showbiz

Sharon Osbourne’s long standing career in entertainment could be in jeopardy after she spoke out in support of Piers Morgan during hosting duties on CBS daytime show The Talk.

What started as a tweet in support of Morgan over his views on Meghan Markle turned into something more hostile when Osbourne’s co-host Sheryl Underwood asked her if giving “validation” to Morgan’s opinions was creating a “safe haven” for racism to unfold.

The conversation ended explosively, with the show now on a break as the incident is investigated.

The television personality is no stranger to career controversies, having been in the firing line numerous times for her raucous behaviour as a rock music manager.

But Osbourne went through somewhat of an image rehabilitation during the wildly successful inception of the X Factor as she filled the role of the warmer, more nurturing judge in contrast to Simon Cowell’s outright savagery.

Other than telling a rather out-there tale about firing one of her assistants on Would I Lie To You? she has lived a relatively drama-free life as one of the US show’s primary hosts.

But the question remains - will she make a return? Here’s a full timeline on how events at The Talk have panned out so far.

March 9th - Osbourne is one of few celebrities to tweet out in support of Piers Morgan

Morgan’s statements about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview were controversial enough for him to have set a new Ofcom record for most complaints about a TV show ever. He eventually stood down from presenting Good Morning Britain in a row over the remarks.

To say Osbourne’s support of him at this time went down like a lead balloon would be an understatement.

If you needed a reminder as to why that might be, we have just the thing.

March 10th - Osbourne defends her actions on The Talk

Osbourne appeared on the show the following day and denied that the comments had been racist, nor did supporting them make her racist by default.

The heated exchange quickly went viral when she was accused of weaponising the feelings of her Black co-host Sheryl Underwood against her.

“I feel 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.… How can I be racist about anybody? How can I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?”

March 12th - Osbourne tweets an apology, former colleague speaks out

Osbourne tweets a lengthy apology two days later. It is the only thing she has posted since the incident.

One of The Talk’s original hosts, Holly Robinson Peete, then claimed Osbourne contributed to her departure from the show by claiming she was too “ghetto”.

She also took to Instagram to tell followers she believed Osbourne was failing to be “accountable”.

“If your only response to a disgusting allegation of racist behavior is to tell ‘little people’ to ‘f*** off’ you’re clearly not holding yourself accountable,” she wrote in a story.

March 13th - Osbourne blames network CBS for leaving her in the dark

After announcements from the network that the show is “under review”, Osbourne expressed that she believes producers of The Talk intentionally “blindsided” her in an interview with Variety magazine.

“I said, ‘Sure, they can ask me whatever.’ But then I get on there, I say my piece and Sheryl [Underwood] turns around straight-faced, looks at me and is reading from a card with questions. I was just so hurt, caught off guard and stunned by what I was being asked and not prepared. I was honestly in shock. I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter. … They had me there for 20 minutes.”

She also strongly refuted Holly Robinson Peete’s accusations from the day prior, saying the word “ghetto” is not in her vocabulary and that she “cannot have anyone fired”.

March 13th - Co-star opens up

Underwood uses her podcast as an opportunity to tell her side of the story. She details her feelings about the situation across two episodes.

Being subjected to the anger of a white woman claiming to know better had struck a nerve with many people online.

“I wasn’t really trying to make good TV,” she said. “What I was really trying to do was have a conversation with somebody that I love, that I still love”.

She spoke of the anxiety surrounding her return to the show as she slept on the evening of the discussion.

“Sheryl, if God lets your eyes open, come back to work tomorrow. Don’t come back different. So you hurt. So you’re disappointed. Manage it. Manage your expectations”.

Despite this, she said didn’t detect any palpable tension in her workplace post-discussion and wanted to put “forgiveness first”.

March 14th - The Talk announces hiatus

CBS announce the programme is on hiatus for two days while they review the events of the past week.

March 16th - Allegations about Osbourne’s use of slurs

US journalist Yashar Ali alleges in a report that Osbourne “has a long history of racist language and bullying” and had made racist comments about a former The Talk co-presenter. Ali cited former The Talk co-host Leah Remini as a source for the allegations.

Howard Bragman, Osbourne’s representative, denied the claim when approached by PA news agency.

It is also reported that Holly Robinson Peete allegedly received a cease and desist letter from Osbourne’s lawyers that demanded she remove her accusations off Twitter. They threatened to sue her if no action was taken.

March 16th - The Talk extends hiatus, Osbourne may not return

That same day CBS announces that the show’s hiatus will be extended by to ensure there is a a “process where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary”.

This is followed by another interview given by Osbourne to Entertainment Tonight. She credits the younger women of colour on the show, such as Elaine Welteroth, for advising the show uses this opportunity as a teachable moment.

“I very much want to listen to the youth,” Osbourne notes. “Do I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on, with the Black situation in this country? No. ... The ins and the outs of the way the younger generation feel right now, I don’t have my finger on the pulse. Elaine does and Elaine very much wants to make this better and to have a conversation come out of this that will help other people and probably people of my age too that would help them.”

Osbourne also claims she has apologised to Underwood and not heard anything back.

March 17th - Osbourne denies allegations in Daily Mail interview

Osbourne’s latest press appearance differs in tone from the apologetic remarks made the day prior. She tells the Daily Mail that she believes she has been subjected to a “pile on” resulting from the behaviour of “kids in a school yard”.

“Of course, it’s a pile on. People want to add fuel to the fire and it comes with the territory and that’s fine.

“Being accused of racism is no joke. Now they get their sweet revenge. I can’t even address it because it’s kids in a schoolyard.

“Coming out with stupid, childish comments – it’s like really? That’s all you’ve got?”

She maintains that not agreeing with the opinions of Morgan “all the way” has not affected their “great friendship”.

“I don’t agree with his opinion all the way, I don’t. But the difference is, he knows Meghan and I don’t. it’s like, hey, the guy has a right to his opinion – I’m sure I say things and he goes, she’s f**king nuts!

“Piers and I have got a great friendship. But we fight – we have huge fights. I’ve slapped Piers. Piers has seen my breasts! We get drunk together, we argue a lot over things we don’t agree on but at the end of the day, that’s it”.

The Talk is due to make a return on Tuesday.

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