The hosts of CBS' syndicated afternoon show "The Talk" saluted new blockbuster "The Hunger Games" by dressing up as characters from the film during Monday's episode. But the tribute took an odd and questionable turn when the panel tackled the issue of the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting while still in costume.
The studio audience erupted in cheers when Julie Chen, Aisha Tyler, Sheryl Underwood, Sara Gilbert and guest host Pat Harvey, KCBS Channel 2 news anchor, first came on stage in "Hunger Games" attire.
Chen's hair was tinted blue for her impersonation of Caesar Flickerman, the outrageous host of the televised games played in the film by Stanley Tucci. Tyler dressed as Effie Trinket, complete with a blond wig and oversized pink flower, while Gilbert dressed as Katniss Everdeen, the film's heroine played by Jennifer Lawrence.
Later in the show, the hosts discussed Geraldo Rivera's comments regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. Rivera said that Martin was shot to death in part because he was wearing a hoodie.
Calling Martin "a modern-day Emmett Till," Tyler said the shooting was especially troubling for people of color and that Martin was shot "for wearing a jacket with a hood on it, and basically for being black." Gilbert took issue with Rivera's contention that Martin was responsible, calling the shooter, George Zimmerman, "insane" and "a vigilante."
Because Chen's hair was tinted blue, the hosts could not easily change to regular clothes after their initial appearence. But talking about a fatal shooting that has gripped the country while dressed as characters from a film with violence as its central theme gave the segment a surreal tone.
[For the record, 11:30 p.m. March 26: A previous version of this post misidentified two character names from "The Hunger Games." The character played by Stanley Tucci in the film is called Caesar Flickerman, and Jennifer Lawrence's character is named Katniss Everdeen.]
Photo: Sheryl Underwood, from left, Sara Gilbert, Pat Harvey, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen from Monday's episode of "The Talk. Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.