Six women talk 'The Talk' on new CBS daytime show
Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Sara Gilbert and Leah Remini (clockwise from top left) co-host "The Talk" weekdays on CBS.
It should, thanks to ABC's "The View" and the fourth hour of NBC's "Today," but CBS hopes there's still room to get in on that format. Starting Monday, Oct. 18, that network fills the slot recently vacated by the long-running serial "As the World Turns" with "The Talk."
The show is the brainchild of former "Roseanne" co-star Sara Gilbert, who shares hosting duties with Julie Chen -- reducing her presence on CBS' "The Early Show" for the new job -- along with Sharon Osbourne and actresses Leah Remini ("The King of Queens"), Holly Robinson Peete ("Hangin' With Mr. Cooper") and Marissa Jaret Winokur (a Tony Award winner for Broadway's "Hairspray").
All six of them share something Gilbert believes is essential to "The Talk": They're mothers.
"This came from a really organic place for me," says Gilbert, also an executive producer of the new program. "I was a new mom when I thought of it. I was feeling overwhelmed. Was I giving the baby enough? Was I giving my son enough attention? I started going to this moms group, and it was just like a light bulb. I thought, 'What if there were a show where a bunch of women sat together and talked about the world through that perspective?' "
It didn't hurt that Gilbert has a long-standing relationship with CBS entertainment programming chief Nina Tassler, who was her talent agent years ago.
"I don't think there is a place you can go in this country right now where you don't seen an article about a new mother and child," Tassler notes, "so certainly, we think it's in the zeitgeist.
"Sara pitched the show and developed the show, and it went through I can't even tell you the number of incarnations. It started as a $25,000 Internet presentation. I said, 'Sara, I'm going to come to your house, and I'll film you.' It literally started like that, then it picked up momentum, and we started talking about topics and subject matter and so on. Then when we started talking about the casting process, we talked about people who have a profile in the media."
Tassler says it was Gilbert's idea to approach Chen, who is the wife of CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves. "I don't think Leslie is unhappy with the decision," Tassler muses.
Neither is Chen, who reflects, "When you get a request from someone that you've never met and you don't really know and they obviously are a fan ... I was flattered. And I was excited, because I had just recently become a mom. (Chen and Moonves welcomed son Charlie in September 2009.) This would be a perfect match, because I had the same questions and issues as Sara did when she first became a mom."
Remini still has many of them, too, as she and her husband raise their 6-year-old daughter. "I wasn't finding an outlet, other than my very close friends, to have these conversations with," she says. "I'm not always the best mom. Actually, I think Sara is a better mom; she feeds her kids well. I think that's what we, as moms, do. We talk to each other, and we learn from each other."
Osbourne doesn't mind doing that, but the "America's Got Talent" judge and cancer survivor admits she and her musician husband, Ozzy, may not need as many tips on dealing with their three children, who include public figures Kelly and Jack. In fact, she claims she's not sure they even know she's doing "The Talk."
"It isn't, 'Oh, yeah, you're on the telly. Let's tune in to Mom.' It's not of great importance to them. They live their lives," she says.
For all the maternal conversation destined to be in "The Talk," Chen stresses, "This is not a show that's just for moms. When you tune into it, you should feel like you're seeing six women from totally different walks of life who are gathering and talking what everyone is talking about. We don't have an 'edit' button. We're not here to judge each other. We're not here to give advice. This is how we feel."
In preparing to share such feelings, Peete -- last season's runner-up on NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" -- is glad "The Talk" won't be readily available to her children.
"I'm really happy that this show is going to be airing while they are in school, so I can talk about them," she explains. "The one thing my daughter did say was completely and totally off-limits was her menstrual cycle. And I'm bummed about it, because I think the stories of my husband (former NFL star Rodney Peete) dealing with this are priceless."
Also a cancer survivor, "Dancing With the Stars" alum Winokur adds she'll likely get into spousal stories on "The Talk" herself.
"My husband is a procrastinator," she says. "Basically, I'm the one who's like, 'I want to buy the carpet. Let's buy the carpet.' And he'd rather go through 20 different stores and find the perfect carpet. That's my biggest thing."
The table at "The View" can appear somewhat crowded when all five of its hosts are present, but one member of the "Talk" team often will be out and about.
"Marissa will be in the field more," Gilbert says, "and then come in to discuss certain topics. For some reason, we all just seem not to talk over each other too much. There's a good chemistry. We've been respecting each other."