After fiercely defending Piers Morgan's treatment of Meghan Markle, Sharon Osbourne has been accused of racist and homophobic behavior by several people, including past The Talk co-host Leah Remini. Specifically, Osbourne was accused of directing offensive and dangerous comments at her co-hosts, behind-the-scenes. Former colleagues are coming forward with their accounts of these alleged statements.
According to Remini, who spoke with journalist Yashar Ali, Osbourne "would frequently refer to then-co-host Julie Chen, who is Chinese American, as 'wonton' and 'slanty eyes.'" Osbourne was also accused of referring to co-host Sara Gilbert, who is openly gay, as "pussy licker" and "fish eater." On Tuesday, Ali published a report which detailed Osbourne's long record of insulting former co-hosts, Chen and Gilbert, as well as Holly Robinson Peete who, in a tweet, accused Osbourne of saying she was "too ghetto" for the show.
Osbourne's publicist, Howard Bragman, denied the allegations, releasing a statement: "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 UK 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."
Remini, however, says that Osbourne needs to be held accountable for those statements. "Coming from Scientology, where racism, bullying, and bigotry is taught, I had to unlearn a lot. I'm still learning and hopefully evolving," Remini said. "I can't say that Sharon has focused on the work she needs to do."
These allegations come just a week after Osbourne was called out for defending Piers Morgan during a segment of The Talk when co-host Sheryl Underwood explained how Morgan's discounting of Meghan Markle’s mental health struggles verged on racism. Osbourne defended Morgan, but later issued a lengthy statement on Twitter where she apologized to "anyone of color" who she may have offended, adding, "There are very few things that hurt my heart more than racism so to feel associated with that spun me fast!"
Osbourne also directly denied Peete's allegations that she called her "too ghetto." "It’s an absolute lie — a 110 percent lie. That's not in my vocabulary. I don't speak like that," she told Variety. "The only ghetto I know is the Warsaw Ghetto, and I think that's the only time I've ever referred to something like that." But Ali's report noted that in a January 2011 episode of The Talk, Osbourne used the word "ghetto" to refer to Remini's Brooklyn accent.
Osbourne has reportedly sent Peete a cease and desist letter demanding she take down her tweet or face litigation. The tweet currently remains online. Neither Chen nor Gilbert has commented on the accusations publicly yet, but on Monday, CBS announced that The Talk is taking a temporary hiatus so that it could investigate the exchange between Underwood and Osbourne.