14 Biggest Talk Show Controversies And Feuds
It might seem like the least likely place for conflict, but talk shows are actually well known for being a breeding ground for controversy, conflict, feuds, extortion plots and even a sex scandal! Whether it’s between two co-hosts, a host and their production team or even the viewers and the host — there’s been no shortage of drama on and off-screen on shows like The View, The Tonight Show, The Talk and even the Today Show. Here’s a look at 14 of the biggest talk show controversies and feuds!
14. Star Jones and Barbara Walters
Star Jones was one of the original co-hosts on The View. She had appeared on the show for nearly a decade when she announced her departure in 2006. Normally when a host exits the show, the announcement is pre-planned so that the news doesn’t stir up any controversy, but Jones went against what she’d planned with Barbara Walters and preemptively announced she was leaving the show. To make matters worse she then slammed the 20/20 host for writing about an affair in her memoir. “It is a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters…is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer…for the sake of selling a book. It speaks true to her character.” Yikes!
13. Elisabeth Hasselbeck Quits The View
Although she first made a name for herself on the second season of Survivor, Elisabeth Hasselbeck is more well known for her 10-year stint on The View from 2003 to 2013. Even though she had a strong presence on The View, she was somewhat of a controversial addition and was known for getting into heated arguments with her co-hosts. The most notable was with Rosie O’Donnell regarding the war. In 2013, the producers decided to not renew her contract and rumors circled that she was let go because she was too far right wing in her opinions. She somewhat confirmed those rumors when she appeared on the Rachel Ray Show in 2015 and said she would never return to The View, not even for a guest appearance because “You break up with me, I’m not going to kiss you!”
12. Jay Leno and David Letterman
Late-night show host Jay Leno got into a feud with David Letterman when he was chosen to replace Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1992 over Letterman. This feud was so well known by the public that it was turned into an HBO movie called The Late Shift! The bad blood between them went on for over two decades, during which Leno got into a feud with another late-night show host, Conan O’Brien. Letterman sounded off on the subject and said, there are “two kinds of talk show hosts: Jay Leno, and those who have been victimized by Jay Leno.” According to Letterman, they’ve since buried the hatchet.
11. Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan
The feud between Kelly Ripa, ABC and Michael Strahan caused a huge media frenzy. It all began when news broke that Strahan was leaving Live! with Kelly and Michael for a new gig at Good Morning America. The kicker was that Ripa didn’t find out the very last minute and was completely blindsided — for the second time! (This previously happened with Regis Philbin). She felt like ABC had disrespected her by going behind her back and left her completely out of the loop. The next day Kelly was absent from their morning show which caused even more drama in the media. While the show went on, viewers knew there was something brewing beneath the surface. She called in sick for a few days and then jetted off on vacation with her husband, Mark Consuelos. When she did return, she didn’t hold back, and delivered a scathing monologue about respect in the workplace. Strahan ended up leaving his post on Live! with Kelly months before he was supposed to because things got so awkward between the two.
10. Jimmy Kimmel vs. Audience
Jimmy Kimmel caught a lot of heat back in 2013 for what happened during a segment of the show called “Kids Table” on his show Jimmy Kimmel Live. The segment brought a bunch of five and six-year-old kids onto the show to discuss the U.S. government shutdown and U.S. debts. To Kimmel’s surprise, one of the kids suggested “killing all the people in China” as a way to resolve U.S. debt. His response was, “that’s an interesting idea” and jokingly followed up with, “Should we allow the Chinese to live?” The incident instigated a ton of negative feedback and online discussions. There was even a White House petition signed by more than 100,000 people calling for Kimmel to apologize for the skit! He responded with, “I thought it was obvious that I didn’t agree with that statement, but apparently it wasn’t.”
9. Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck
The View has been known to stir up drama and controversy by offering a diverse range of co-hosts who sometimes share very different views on what is right and wrong. While it can be entertaining to watch two people of different political and cultural stances go at it over a hot topic, it’s also dangerous territory. Two of the most conflicting co-hosts of all time were Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. They rarely ever shared the same views, but things got particularly bad in 2007 when they discussed the war in Iraq. In a live unedited episode of the show, both women slewed insults at one another attacking their personal and political stances. O’Donnell ended up calling Hasselbeck “cowardly.” Almost immediately after their blowout, ABC announced O’Donnell would not be returning to the show.
8. Leah Remini and Sharon Osbourne
Leah Remini was one of the original co-hosts on The Talk which premiered in October 2010. She stayed with the show until 2011 when she was unceremoniously fired alongisde Holly Robinson Peete. There was no public information about why they were let go until Osbourne went on The Howard Stern Show and said: “Some people don’t really know who they are. And you have to know who you are when you’re in something like this. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not.” Remini responded on Twitter and claimed that Sharon went behind her back to have her fired because she thought they were too “ghetto” and “not funny, awkward, and didn’t know [themselves].” Sharon denied this and said she had absolutely nothing to do with Remini being fired because she does not hold that power on the show and “have no idea why she continues to…spread this false gossip.”
7. Julie Chen vs. The View
The Talk co-host, Julie Chen, sounded off on the state of The View in a 2016 interview with Andy Cohen. He blatantly asked Chen what her reaction was to PageSix stating that Walters feels show execs ruined the franchise she built by casting “uninformed child actors on the show” rather than “smart, educated women with strong talent.” The article was obviously talking about Full House alum Candace Cameron Bure and former The Cosby Show and That’s So Raven alum Raven-Symone. “I believed every word I read in PageSix. I do think Barbara Walters is probably like, ‘This amazing show I created is now just kind of withering away with a revolving door of hosts that people can’t keep straight.’ I mean, I should know all the names of the hosts and I don’t because it changes so often!” said Chen.
6. David Letterman Sex Scandal
This late night talk show host is the only one on this list to have endured a public sex scandal. In 2009, the same year he married his long-time girlfriend, Regina Lasko, Letterman stood up in front of a live audience and everyone who was watching and confessed to sleeping with women who worked for him on the Late Show in an attempt to stop an extortion plot for $2 million from one of his former assistants boyfriends. “It was easily the lowest point of my life. I don’t know how else to describe it,” he later said in an interview with Rolling Stone. Despite the humiliation, Letterman worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to lure his blackmailer in with a bogus $2 million check to have him arrested.
5. Alec Baldwin’s Gay Slur
Believe it or not, there was a time when Alec Baldwin had his own talk show on MSNBC called Up Late with Alec Baldwin. Unfortuatnely, the gig was short lived after he was accused of using a gay slur while talking to a paparazzo. He apologized for his behavior and said: “Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward. What I said and did this week, as I was trying to protect my family, was offensive and unacceptable.” But it wasn’t enough to save his show from being cancelled.
4. Julie Chen and Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy joined the panel of hosts on The View in 2013 after a huge shake-up after Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck left. She didn’t last long though! She left one season after Behar returned in 2015. In an interview with Howard Stern, Chen didn’t hold back when asked about her opinion on McCarthy joining the show. She said: “Yes, and I’ll tell you why I think so. Because what made The View so popular and so good was that you had five different women from different walks of life discussing politics. And when they, whatever happened, when Joy left and when Elisabeth left and they got Jenny in, I think they were trying to lighten the mood at the table — more gossip, more fun, more laughs. Jenny is beautiful, and funny, and talented and smart. And what happened was, in my opinion, The View doesn’t know what it is now. It’s lost it’s way…no one wants to hear Jenny McCarthy talk about the mayoral race or politics, they don’t.”
3. Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno
This one is super awkward. Conan O’Brien was given the honor of taking over The Tonight Show after Jay Leno retired in 2009, but seven months into hosting the show, Leno decided he wanted his job back and NBC gave it to him! Not surprisingly, O’Brien wasn’t very happy about what happened and many of their fellow late-night hosts sided with him. O’Brien and Leno still aren’t on speaking terms, and according to O’Brien, they probably never will be. “The odds are we will both leave this Earth without speaking to each other, which is fine,” he said in an interview in 2012.
2. Matt Lauer and Ann Curry
Ann Curry had been involved with the Today show since the mid-90s, either as a substitute or regularly serving news anchor. Her 2012 exit from the show was messy, but when reporter Brian Stelter wrote in his book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV and alleged his former co-anchor was constantly made fun of and mistreated by other staff members, things got even worse. He alleged that during her final months at Studio 1A were “torture” and then reporter Joe Hagan confirmed these rumors in an interview with New York Magazine when he said an NBC staff member had told him, “Everybody at NBC, everybody at the ‘Today’ show, everybody understood that Ann was kicked out of her position because Matt [Lauer] didn’t want her there. That’s why it was so personal between Ann and Matt.”
1. Sharon Osbourne and The View
After all the drama between her and Leah Remini blew over, Sharon Osbourne once again stirred things up by slamming her competition over at The View. Osbourne has been starring on The Talk as a co-host ever since the show premiered back in 2010. It follows a very similar format to The View with a panel of female hosts from all different backgrounds, who come together to discuss the latest headlines. In November 2013, she appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show and said, while she idolized Barbara Walters, “the rest [of the hosts could] go f–k themselves.” It didn’t take long for her to realize she’d made a mistake and apologized for her remarks. She said she was just “trying to be funny,” and actually respected her fellow talk show hosts. “I’m not well!” she joked. “I’m not responsible. I’m really just a loose cannon.”