On paper, Julie Chen and Sharon Osbourne — the queen bees of CBS' girly gabfest The Talk — couldn't be more different. Chen, a pedigreed journalist, spent years rising up the ranks at The Early Show and hosting Big Brother. Osbourne, meanwhile, has passed the last decade-plus morphing from music manager to reality-TV pioneer and variety-show judge. (Heck, even their husbands are practically from different planets: Chen is married to Leslie Moonves, the power-suited president and CEO of CBS; Osbourne has a 30-year union with rock icon Ozzy.) And yet, the polar opposite cohosts click. Five days a week, they gather — along with Aisha Tyler, Sheryl Underwood and Sara Gilbert — to swap opinions and crack each other up. We invited the two for high tea at the BG restaurant, where a ladylike setting didn't get in the way of letting off a little steam.
TV Guide Magazine: The Talk has had its share of shake-ups — see ya, Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete! Was it a relief to go into Season 3 with the lineup intact?
Osbourne: Any continuity is good in your life. Now we go into work, have the best time together, then all go and live our lives.
TV Guide Magazine: What went wrong during the first season?
Chen: Chemistry is something you can't fake. It's like dating.
Osbourne: The rapport has to be natural. I don't think you can put it into words what happened. We couldn't get in a rhythm.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you make of the criticism that your show is a knockoff of The View?
Osbourne: Does anybody say that Conan, Letterman, Leno and Ferguson are the same shows? They sit down and they interview people, so why can't there be a bunch of women doing it? It's only a format.
Chen: Our show is more fun than The View. Because we avoid talking about politics, there isn't tension. There are three things you can never win when talking about: Politics, religion and the O.J. Simpson trial.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell the truth: Which guests made your job harder?
Osbourne: Christie Brinkley — it was like pulling teeth. I don't think she's comfortable with who she is.
Chen: She was supposed to come on and dish the dirt about her divorce from Peter Cook, but then I think the lawyers advised against it.
Osbourne: And I'll tell you who's nutty...Cybill Shepherd. Very awkward to talk to.
TV Guide Magazine: Julie, when you began hosting Big Brother in 2000, you got a chilly reception from audiences. And the "Chenbot" nickname was born...
Chen: It's one thing to hate the show, but they hated me. It was awful. Initially the nickname was another punch in the stomach, and then my agent sent me a clip. Someone had spliced together all the shots of me saying "But first." I burst out laughing. I was like, "They have a point! I am the Chenbot." So I embraced it. Now I'll sign my note cards "Chenbot."
TV Guide Magazine: Sharon, you recently left America's Got Talent after alleging that NBC fired your son Jack from Stars Earn Stripes due to his multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
Osbourne: I loved the job, but personal feelings came into it. NBC should've been honest and said, "You know what, we really mishandled this situation, we apologize and we're going to make a donation to MS in Jack's name." I don't fit in at that corporation at all, nor do I want to. And I'm not the sort of person who's going to kiss arse. It's not like I'm trying to get in the next sitcom.
TV Guide Magazine: What would it be like if you went on a double date with your husbands?
Osbourne: Oh, my goodness me, can you imagine? First, I don't think Les would understand anything that Ozzy says. And I think Ozzy would be intimidated by Les' confidence.
Chen: And Les would be intimidated by Ozzy being a rock-and-roll icon. He wouldn't even know what to say.
TV Guide Magazine: When your job requires you to spend so much time speaking off the cuff, do you end up saying things that you regret?
Osbourne: Every day! It's like toads fly out of my mouth. You're being silly, and [then] you go, "Ooh. Why did I say that? I really didn't mean that at all."
Chen: That's why we love Sharon! Whereas Chenbot has no toads. Chenbot does not even know what a toad is. Chenbot does not compute!
The Talk airs weekdays on CBS.