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Sharon Osbourne disputes allegations of racism in new interview

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·6-min read
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Sharon Osbourne is speaking out about The Talk drama amid the show's extended hiatus.

The co-host spoke with Entertainment Tonight about her future with the show, following March 10's heated on-air discussion about racism and CBS's investigation into it. She also discussed where her relationship stands with co-host Sheryl Underwood. However, Osbourne's interview was conducted prior to the new allegations of racism and inappropriate workplace behavior against her.

Osbourne, who denied she's racist several times in the interview, maintains she was blindsided by producers during last week's show. Minutes before air, she agreed to a producer's request to discuss the criticism she received over her support of Piers Morgan — amid his controversial comments about Meghan Markle. However, she felt ambushed because, when the cameras rolled, her co-hosts, also including Elaine Welteroth, had cards with a list of questions for her, suggesting they had time to prepare while she didn't.

"Sheryl turns around and asks me this question and... she was reading it off a card," Osbourne said. "It wasn't on my cards. And then Elaine's reading her questions and I'm like, 'I've been set up.' They're setting me up. My anger was like, 'I cannot believe this, I'm your sacrificial lamb.'"

LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 5:
Sharon Osbourne unsure she’ll return to The Talk even if cleared in investigation. (Photo: Randee St. Nicholas/CBS via Getty Images)

Nevertheless, Osbourne says she didn't handle the situation properly — as she defensively demanded her co-stars to, "Educate me. Tell me when you have heard him say racist things?"

"I love Sheryl," Osbourne said. "I've apologized to Sheryl. She's not gotten back and I can understand. Sheryl needs her time."

She continued, "I am not a racist and if you can't have a go at your friend who happens to be Black, does that make me racist because I said certain things to my friend, but I said them on camera? I will keep on apologizing to Sheryl, even if I decide not to go back, I will still keep apologizing to Sheryl. I have nothing but respect and so much affection for Sheryl. I don't want to hurt her."

As for the moment during the broadcast that she told Underwood "don't try and cry because if anyone should be crying, it should be me," she said she was wrong to be dismissive of Underwood's feelings. She just felt ambushed.

"She had just as much pain and probably fear as I did," Osbourne. "So, I should never have dismissed her feelings on national TV, ever. But I said it. I have to own it. I can't say, you know, 'Oh, I didn't know why I said it.' I know why I said it... I was pissed with a friend. Pissed off with my friend for not giving me the heads up. But in hindsight she was doing her job."

She added, "I own up to what I did. I can't not own up. I said what I said. I got too personal with Sheryl. I should've never said stop her tears. She was hurting as I was hurting."

However, she said she doesn't know why Underwood was cold to her when they went to commercial break. That made Osbourne even more defensive when the show resumed.

"She wouldn't talk to me," she said. "She turned her back and she was holding her finger in her ear like she was talking to a producer in her earpiece, but hey, it is what it is. I conducted myself really badly, really badly. I let myself down. I let her down by losing my cool, by not centering myself to say, 'OK, for some reason they're doing this to me ... you're on national TV, stay calm, stay calm.' and I didn't. So. I blew it. But that does not make me a racist."

Osbourne says while CBS investigates her, she's still deciding whether she'll return to the show at all. She said Welteroth — who filed a complaint with CBS after the show about racial insensitivity on set — has said they should have another on-air discussion to help educate.

"I wish we could go on and have an adult conversation calmly and work it out," she said, "but I don't know whether we can. I don't know whether it's gone past that. I would love to but I don't know whether I even want to go back... I don't know whether I'm wanted there."

CBS launched an internal investigation into the show last week which was to keep the show dark for two episodes. However, on Tuesday afternoon, after Osbourne's interview with ET, a new report from journalist Yashar Ali ran with 11 sources, including former co-host Leah Remini, detailing additional claims against Osbourne. Remini, who was fired after the first season along with Holly Robinson Peete, claimed Osbourne frequently referred to former co-hosts Julie Chen, who is Chinese American, "as 'wonton' and 'slanty eyes,'" and called Sara Gilbert "who is a lesbian, as 'p**sy licker' and 'fish eater.'" Remini also claimed Osbourne called her Italian slurs "WOP" and "Guinea," and tried to get her to join in getting Robinson Peete fired and replaced with with "‘another Black person who is funny.'"

Osbourne's publicist, Howard Bragman, refuted the new allegations: “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."

The Talk is now set to return on March 23. In a statement, a spokesperson for CBS said the network "is 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. The show will extend its production hiatus until next Tuesday as we continue to review these issues."

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