Sharon Osbourne and Julie Chen Sharon Osbourne and Julie Chen

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?
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?
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?
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...
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.
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?
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?
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.

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