Sheryl Underwood has denied Sharon Osbourne’s claims that “The Talk” executive producers and CBS executives “set up” Osbourne during their heated on-screen discussion regarding Piers Morgan on March 10, which led to Osbourne’s exit from the daytime talk show.
Osbourne has apologized for the episode, writing in a lengthy statement on Twitter that she “panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive & allowed my fear & horror of being accused of being racist take over.” However, she has taken a more combative stance in subsequent interviews, blaming the show’s producers for intentionally blindsiding her with the segment about Morgan, calling it “the biggest set up ever” in an interview with ET before her “Talk” exit.
During an episode of Underwood’s podcast, which was released over the weekend as part of a 3-installment discussion about Osbourne’s exit from “The Talk,” she said that “none” of the questions she asked Osbourne that day came from producers or executives.
“Because I was moderator that day, and I had been moderating Monday and Tuesday, and I had been moderating a lot, so I was a moderator,” the comedian explained to her podcast co-hosts. “So I’m talking about what I wanted to ask, in a way that was not perceived as attacking. See, I was already thinking– And remember what I said? I thought this was going to go left, in my gut, I thought this was going to go left. And so I wanted to put it in a proper order, be very calm. And there were a few people that criticized me, why do you give any f–ks about somebody’s feelings that give no f–ks about yours? It’s not about the reaction of the person, it’s about me and who I am trying to evolve and to be mature.”
Underwood added that she would have done that no matter who she was having this discussion with, because she wants “to have a really good conversation with my friends about something that might be uncomfortable for them.”
“I’m thinking about me, I’m not just thinking about you, or the reaction, because I’m trying to lessen the stress.”
The comedian said she prefers to run off the teleprompter, but had the cards in case it went down and “there were other segments, there were other topics, there were other things happening.”
“So I start to write on my card, here’s what I’m thinking about. And I’m talking to an executive producer, not that they’re telling me what to say, they’re helping me shape what I want to say,” she said. “And this is right before the show is starting. So I’m writing on a marker, OK, I’d like to start with this and then I’d like to go to this and go to that. Does that sound OK? Does that sound succinct? It doesn’t sound argumentative, does it? I’m thinking from the producer side, and I’m thinking how do you guide this conversation.”
During the March 10 conversation, Osbourne came to the defense of longtime friend Morgan after he was criticized for making disparaging comments about Meghan Markle. Some critics, including Underwood, said Morgan’s words where racially motivated (Markle, whose mother is Black, is biracial), leading to an on-air meltdown in which Osbourne said she felt like she was “about to be put in the electric chair” for having a racist friend.
Soon after the discussion, CBS launched an internal review into the on-air comments about racism and allegations of racially insensitive behavior behind-the-scenes at “The Talk.” A few weeks later, on March 26, Osbourne exited the show.
“The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home,” CBS said in a statement at the time. “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,” the statement continued.
During her recent podcast episode, Underwood said that Osbourne has not called her since they were on set, joking, “OK, I been looking through my phone, I be trying to look through my phone and everything.”
However, she did say she was texted by “people” but “I don’t know if they want their business in the street, but I will say [they reached out] to say, ‘I understand what you’re going through and I know you need your space.’ Those were text messages.”
“The Talk” will return from its hiatus on April 12 with its first episode post-Osbourne’s exit and Underwood encouraged her podcast listeners to stick with the daytime talker.
“We work for a corporation that I still like working for. I like doing the show,” Underwood told her podcast co-hosts, adding with a laugh, “I think what everybody agrees with you, it’s a cult… But I’m glad that there is diverse thought, because then through diverse thought can come learning and evolution. So for everybody who says, I’m not going to watch ‘The Talk’ no more, I’m asking you to reconsider that. For everybody that’s been watching and can’t wait for us to come back, send us love and prayers through social media, through everything. Other shows went through this, not this specific situation. But ‘The View’ went through things, ‘The Real’ went through things, we go through things.”