Season 9 of The Talk premiered Monday, but one of the co-hosts was noticeably absent.
Julie Chen skipped the show after her husband, Leslie Moonves, was forced out of his position as
CEO of CBS Corporation amid a sexual misconduct investigation.
“I am taking a few days off from The Talk to be with my family,” Chen said in a statement to the media. “I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.”
Despite Chen’s absence, the other co-hosts didn’t shy away from the scandal that ended Moonves’ career at CBS.
“It’s a very bittersweet day for Season 9… We’re about to talk about something that affects everybody’s lives here at CBS,” said co-host Sharon Osbourne, who led the discussion. “I’ve never been nervous in my life, and I’m very nervous right now. As you all know, Julie’s husband is in the news, and she’s taking off time to be with her family.”
Osbourne then tossed to a video montage from morning show segments about Moonves’ departure. After the video ended, she said she stands by Chen.
“I want to say that whatever times I’ve had of hardship over the past eight years, Julie has always been there for me,” Osbourne added. “She’s been a friend. She’s been someone who I admire and respect greatly. It’s very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about her husband, but we do. We feel it’s right.”
Osbourne said she was asked “a couple of months ago” to make a statement in support of Moonves, when the first allegations were made public and said she tried to be “as diplomatic as I could be.”
Still, Osbourne told the audience she’s troubled by the allegations.
“Now after seven more women have come out, the stories are so similar, the pattern is so similar, that for me, it’s not being convicted of any crime, but obviously the man has a problem and I’d like to say, Mr. Moonves should step down, and Mr. Moonves is an extremely wealthy man and good luck to him … He has worked hard. He made this network number one.”
Sheryl Underwood also addressed the controversy.
“I think this is a blessing from God, to be unburdened from secrets,” Underwood said as she fought back tears. “Now is the time for everyone to look inside themselves and become better people, and to treat people the way they should be treated.”
Moonves resigned Sunday, hours after The New Yorker published an article detailing sexual misconduct
allegations against him from six more women. The media mogul said the allegations are untrue and called the claims “appalling” in a statement to the magazine.
The story, from reporter Ronan Farrow, was a follow-up to his July report that included allegations against Moonves from six other women.
CBS said in a statement Sunday that Moonves will donate $20 million to groups supporting workplace equality and the #MeToo movement.
Moonves, who had run CBS since 2006, is eligible for a severance package that reportedly ranges from $100-$180 million if fired without cause. The money is now being withheld pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegations.