When the daytime talk show The Talk premiered in 2010, its panel of co-hosts included the show’s developer, Roseanne star Sara Gilbert, as well as Julie Chen Moonves, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and Leah Remini. By the middle of the first season, Winokur announced that she’d be leaving of her own accord. But when the show returned for its second season, Robinson Peete and Remini were also notably absent, replaced by Aisha Tyler and Sheryl Underwood. The lead-up to their departure is a saga for the ages, as told through Twitter, interviews with Howard Stern, and a bit of investigative journalism. Read on for all the details on why Remini said Osbourne got her fired from The Talk, as well as the decade-plus-long public feud that ensued.
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Remini and Peete were not given an explanation for why they were not asked to return to The Talk after Season 1, according to the latter, who first expressed the “frustration of not knowing” to E! News in 2011. “Usually when you get fired, your boss brings you in, sits you down and tells you why they can’t keep you,” she said in a subsequent interview with BET. “I speculate in my mind [about why], but in trying to move forward all I can say is, ‘Hey, is it because of my performance?’ I don’t think so.”
In a Twitter Q&A in 2012, Remini shared her own explanation for why they were shown the door, pinning the blame on co-host Osbourne.
“Ask Sharon. she had us fired,” the King of Queens star wrote in a since-deleted tweet, as reported by Perez Hilton. “Sharon thought me and Holly were ‘Ghetto’, (her words) we were not funny, awkward and didn’t know ourselves.” In response to a follower’s comment that Osbourne didn’t have that kind of power, Remini replied, “She has the power that was given her.”
Indeed, a clip from The Talk posted on YouTube appears to show Osbourne calling Remini “ghetto,” and in a 2011 interview with Howard Stern (as reported by E! News) Osbourne explained, “Some people don’t really know who they are, and you have to know who you are when you’re in something like this.” Nonetheless, she was quick to defend herself against Remini’s allegation, taking to Twitter in 2012 to say, “I had absolutely nothing to do w her departure from the show & have no idea why she continues to take to Twitter to spread this false gossip.”
She continued, “Leah knows that I have never been in the position to hire or fire anyone on the show,” adding, “That being said, my only wish is that Leah would just stop all this negative, unprofessional and childish behavior.”
As reported by E! News, Remini fired back, tweeting: “If someone wants me to stop, they should call a lawyer and tell them what I am NOT telling the truth about. We can go from there.”
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Around the time she famously left Scientology, Remini appeared to mend relations with Osbourne. The Daily Mail reported that the two were seen hugging during Remini’s 2013 stint on Dancing With the Stars, and Remini seemed to have a new outlook on The Talk during a Howard Stern appearance in 2015, saying she was not angry “at all” with Osbourne for what happened and that she took responsibility for not fitting in with the daytime television scene.
“I wasn’t my best self there,” Remini said, adding that executives were “absolutely” right to get rid of her. “If I wanted to be in this kind of show, I need[ed] to shut my mouth and do what my bosses tell me to do,” she said. “I can’t do that.”
That year, Remini also addressed the feud on a 2015 episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?.
“When you look back at situations, you have to look back on maybe what you did that contributed to it and certainly there were things on the other side that contributed to it,” she said. “But to come off as a victim is just not something that I want to do.”
Remini’s tune changed again following the heated 2021 on-air exchange between Osbourne and Underwood after the former’s defense of friend Piers Morgan and his racist remarks about Meghan Markle, which led to CBS putting the show on temporary hiatus while they investigated Osbourne. First, Peete tweeted, “I’m old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too ‘ghetto’ for #theTalk…then I was gone.” Days later Remini revealed in an investigative report by journalist Yashar Ali that prior to filming the talk show, Osbourne had taken her to lunch to try to convince her to help Osbourne oust Peete and replace her with “another Black person who is funny.” She also said that Osbourne used ethnic, racist, and homophobic slurs against her, Chen Moonves, and Gilbert, contributing to the set being a “toxic environment.”
Remini also again implied Osbourne had a role in her firing, stating, “Although being fired was devastating at that time, in part because someone we considered a friend turned on us for a show we helped to create, I am grateful for the time away to do the work I needed to do.” She added, “Coming from Scientology, where racism, bullying and bigotry is taught, I had to unlearn a lot. I’m still learning and hopefully evolving. I can’t say that Sharon has focused on the work she needs to do.”
For her part, Osbourne reflected on Twitter about her “defensive” response to Underwood and told The Daily Mail that Remini’s claims were “crap, all crap.” She was ultimately fired from the show, blaming “cancel culture” in her 2022 Fox Nation docuseries, as reported by Entertainment Weekly.