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Lawyer: Sharon Osbourne's fight vs CBS over 'Talk' exit might pay off on 'strong incentive' to settle

Alexandra Canal
·Producer
·4 min read

Sharon Osbourne is reportedly set to receive a big payout after exiting CBS' "The Talk."

According to Page Six, Osbourne will walk away with a minimum $5 million - $10 million from her former employer. CBS has vehemently denied the report, telling Yahoo Finance via email that the report "is wrong."

The talk show host officially exited the show last week, after defending Piers Morgan's controversial comments about Meghan Markle and her allegations of racism in the royal ranks.

Osbourne also faced claims of racist behavior herself. A damning report, which cited multiple sources, including former co-host Leah Remini, alleged Osbourne used racist slurs when talking about her colleagues.

The news follows reports that Osbourne was planning to sue CBS over her messy departure. According to The Daily Mail, the 68-year-old was seeking damages as well as the remaining two years of her contract (roughly $3 million) to be paid out by the network. It raises questions about whether the dispute would ultimately end up in court — and whose argument would prevail.

"The studio may stand strong because they have a lot of public sentiment and opinion on their side," LA-based litigation attorney Sean Andrade told Yahoo Finance.

"These types of contracts have different provisions like morality provisions that will allow [CBS] to take action if the person does not essentially act the way they believe someone should act who is in the public eye," he continued.

'Very likely' headed to court

(L-R) Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen from
(L-R) Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen from "The Talk" arrive at the People's Choice Awards 2016 in Los Angeles, California January 6, 2016.

CBS released a statement on Friday saying the decision to leave the show was ultimately made by Osbourne, adding that the company had "concluded" in an internal review that her behavior "did not align with our values for a respectful workplace."

And according to Andrade, "the way CBS and their statements are coming out, it seems as though they are definitely trying to portray [Osbourne] as somebody who would have been a problematic person in the studio had they kept her on because of her poor interactions with her colleagues."

Still, although CBS has a solid case, "there’s always a strong incentive and real business justification to settle because you're going to spend a lot of money on attorney fees and there is always some risk," Andrade explained. In his view, Osbourne's claim that she was "blindsided" by questions about Piers Morgan may "give her an argument that she was set up."

A separate source told Page Six that Osbourne will tell her side of the story when she's ready, adding, "She has been on that show for 11 years and knows all the secrets."

"It's very likely that, if there is no settlement, [this case] will head to court," Andrade said.

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 8:
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 8: "The Talk," October 9, 2020 on the CBS Television Network. Sharon Osbourne shown. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

During the March 10 episode in question, Osbourne defended Morgan as a friend, and pushed back against the idea that either of them were motivated by racism. Two days later, she released a lengthy apology via Twitter.

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Freedom of speech and expression might be Osbourne's main defense, with Andrade stressing "that's where she needs to be on her arguments."

Still, "the problem is the product that [CBS} is selling is to the public and when you become a high-profile celebrity and make insulting comments — comments that are racist or supporting racist behavior — then it's definitely difficult for the studio to support somebody like that because they are no longer going to bring a positive impact to the show," he added.

Celebrities securing fat paydays after controversial firings is not a new concept. Megyn Kelly, who was fired by NBC in 2018 after delivering on-air comments defending blackface, still received the full $69 million her initial three-year contract stipulated. That shut down the possibility of a drawn-out legal battle.

"There will always be a compulsion by the studio to pay something to have it go it away," Andrade told Yahoo Finance.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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