TCA Press Tour: Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen and Sharon Osbourne target moms with 'The Talk'
Just six moms sittin' around talkin' – that’s what CBS is angling for with its new daytime show, "The Talk." But no sooner did the chatty half-dozen stop by the TV press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday than they met with some not-so-friendly banter from reporters.
Why did Sara Gilbert ("Roseanne"), who pitched the show to CBS and serves as a cohost and executive producer, leave her lesbian partner out of her "Talk" bio? Did Julie Chen get her job as cohost because she happens to be married to Leslie Moonves, the boss of CBS? Isn’t this lineup – which also includes Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete and Marissa Jaret Winokur -- just a ripoff of ABC’s hit gabfest "The View"?
Gilbert said no on that last point. "This came from a really organic place for me," she said of the show’s creation. As a new mother, she said, she realized there was room for a talk show specifically targeted at moms. "People need this kind of support," she added. But as if to hedge bets, Chen told reporters that “The Talk” wouldn’t be a moms-only club. Instead, it will be a place to hear lively conversation about current events. But not, presumably, in a “View”-like way.
Overshadowing the CBS session was the nepotism issue, as Chen, currently a host on "The Early Show" and "Big Brother," has been married to Moonves since 2004.
"Julie has a terrific reputation," said CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler, who was asked about Chen’s hiring at her executive session. "And the bottom line is the executive producer of the show, Sara Gilbert, said, 'What about [hiring] Julie? Do you think she would be interested?' And we followed her lead."
Chen managed to deflect the issue graciously, saying she was flattered by Gilbert’s request. She spun a warmhearted yarn about her hard-working husband coming home late and craving quality time with their infant son. Still unclear is what her role on "Early Show" will be. "We’re gonna figure that out," Chen said, but she won’t remain as coanchor. "That would be too much even for the Chenbot," a reference to a derogatory nickname from critics that she has cheerfully acknowledged over the years. "I’ll probably be doing taped pieces they could put on the air."
Gilbert seemed somewhat surprised by the attention centered on her partner and home life. She explained that she "decided a CBS press release wasn’t the place" she wanted to open up about things she usually keeps private. "I’ve never really discussed my personal life," she said, adding that she knows that will likely change now: "This is a talk show."
-- Scott Collins
Photo: From left: Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne and Julie Chen. Credit: Cliff Lipson / CBS