Just as Tuesday’s episode of “The Talk” was about to end, the co-hosts played a short video message from Chen, which they said was recorded only moments earlier. She spoke from the set of the CBS reality competition “Big Brother,” which she has hosted for 20 seasons.
“I have been at ‘The Talk’ since the day it started nine years ago. And the cast, crew and staff have become family to me over the years. But right now, I need to spend more time at home with my husband and our young son. So I’ve decided to leave ‘The Talk,’ ” Chen said. “I want to thank everyone at the show for the wonderful years together. I will always, always cherish the memories we share. Most important, I want to thank you, the viewers, for allowing me into your home every day. It was a privilege I will always be grateful for.”
She started to get choked up as she continued: “To everyone behind the scenes, I send you my love. I will miss you all very, very much.”
Chen then addressed each co-host, including Eve, Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne and creator Sara Gilbert. She called herself, Gilbert and Osbourne “the original three musketeers” who hosted together starting Day One. “I will treasure our friendship,” Chen said. “And I know this show, and the sisterhood it stands for, will live on for many, many, many more years to come.”
She also briefly addressed guest-host Carrie Ann Inaba and even threw in a plug for her as a possible replacement: “Carrie Ann, I don’t know — but in my opinion, you look awful good sitting in that chair, my Asian sister,” Chen said.
Chen had been absent from the show since the Season 9 premiere Sept. 10, the day after Moonves stepped down, when the co-hosts had a tough conversation about her husband and the Me Too movement. Ronan Farrow had just released the second of two bombshell articles in the New Yorker, which reported an alleged pattern of Moonves’s sexual harassment from the 1980s to the early 2000s, as well as alleged intimidation and retribution that ended women’s careers.
Moonves called the stories “untrue allegations from decades ago [that] are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.” CBS has set aside $120 million for his possible severance, pending an investigation into the accusations of misconduct.
Although Chen (who married Moonves in 2004) had previously released a statement supporting her husband after Farrow’s first New Yorker story published in July, she made her position even clearer on Thursday’s live episode of “Big Brother.” She signed off by saying, “From outside the ‘Big Brother’ house, I’m Julie Chen Moonves. Goodnight.” It was the first time she had added “Moonves” in her traditional sign-off, and video of the moment immediately started trending on Twitter.
With her allegiance made clear, it was difficult to imagine Chen going back to “The Talk” where she could be asked about Moonves by her co-hosts. It appears that Chen will continue to host “Big Brother,” which generally sticks to a script, through its season finale next week.
Brian Stelter of CNN broke the news of Chen’s imminent departure from “The Talk” late Monday night. An individual told him, “She has decided that her main focus needs to be clearing her husband’s name from accusations made 25-30 years ago and tending to her son.”
When Chen’s video message was over, Underwood and Inaba were crying. Gilbert addressed her friend and co-host one more time.
“I created this show as a place for friends to come together,” she said. “I know I speak for all the hosts when I say we thank you for eight years of dear friendship and for all that you did to contribute to the success of the show. We love you, Julie.”
After the show aired, CBS released a statement: “For eight seasons, Julie Chen has co-hosted ‘The Talk’ with incredible energy, grace and professionalism. Her talents played a big role in our successful launch of CBS’ first network daytime talk show, and in the series growth into an Emmy Award-winning broadcast. . . . We are grateful for her many other contributions, respect her decision and wish Julie all the best in everything she does.”