WATCH!: Congrats, ladies! The show's really catching fire. Why do you think it's working so well?
JULIE CHEN: All the women on the show are so intelligent, and there are so many different ways to entertain. Sometimes we're funny. Sometimes we're poignant. And we all come from different walks of life. No one duplicates somebody else. There's also this great chemistry and most of all, a respect that we have for one another even when we don't agree.
SARA GILBERT: People are trying to be truthful and real, and the truth really does resonate, and that's what's helping us. The more real we are, the more we're connecting with people at home.
WATCH!: Sara, your goal when co-creating the show was to discuss topics that you'd talk with your friends about over coffee. Do you think you've been able to achieve that?
SARA: I do think that, and we're also talking about things that happen in the world, and I love that.
JULIE: I think we go even deeper than girls having coffee. We really take a topic, whether it's deep or fun, and we really tear it apart.
SARA: See, but I do that at coffee.
JULIE: Oh, you do? [Laughs.]
HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE: She's deep, Julie. [Laughs.] But I agree. It's the flavors. We can talk about the same thing, and even if we agree, our takes are different because of our experiences. But I think what the audience is responding to-or at least what my cousins in Philly are responding to-is the real, authentic connection that we have.
WATCH!: What do your cousins say?
HOLLY: They have too much to say. I'm like, "That's enough. You don't produce the show! [Laughs.] And they think they know everybody. They're like, "Well, I know Sharon [Osbourne] wouldn't say that!" I'm like, "You don't even know Sharon!" But they think they do from watching the show.
JULIE: I had a girlfriend who said, "I'm mad at Leah [Remini] this week. I decided we should be best friends, but I'm mad at her."
SARA: Because she was picking on me?
WATCH!: Leah and Sara, you do have a funny banter where you pick on each other. What's up with that?
LEAH REMINI: Well, that comes from her being annoying and me not being annoying.
SHARON OSBOURNE: Leah!
LEAH: [Laughs.] I love Sharon being shocked at the things that I say. Meanwhile, she's the only woman who's been censored on the show.
SHARON: They told me you can't say "fugly," because it's rude.
HOLLY: It stands for "[expletive] ugly," right?
SHARON: Yeah, but you could say "fudge."
SARA: There's a whole list.
SHARON: You can't say "Jesus Christ."
HOLLY: Unless you're imitating a black woman at a funeral!
SARA: You can't use it as an expletive. You can refer to Jesus Christ.
LEAH: But to answer your questions, I think the reason we get away with it is because we do have chemistry and we do have a mutual respect. You can't buy that. You can't write that. You can't cast it.
SARA: I remember when we all had lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel before the first show, and I was like, "Oh, my God, the chemistry is here." I was so excited.
HOLLY: So the work was trying to figure out how to make that chemistry into show in 40-something minutes and learning how to go in and out of commercial. Now it just feels natural.
WATCH!: Was there pre-show bonding before you started filming?
SHARON: There wasn't a whole lot, really.
HOLLY: We're about to tack onto it tonight. We're going out tonight.
LEAH: Just girls.
HOLLY: What? I didn't know that.
SHARON: Have Rodney come for dessert.
SARA: That would be funny if Rodney was the only one there. He's like, "Hey girls!" And we're like, "Get out!"
HOLLY: Well, thank God we had this interview!
WATCH!: So you'll go out and have some drinks just for fun.
SHARON: Yeah, because when you're working there's never any social time. It's just nice. I just want to celebrate that the show is doing so well.
WATCH!: What feedback have you gotten from mothers who love the show?
LEAH: It's not just mothers, it's men. It's not just a show about mothers. We're mothers who don't talk about being moms 24/7. We talk about everything.
SARA: I get feedback like, "Why don't you do more of this?" I've never worked on something where I got so much feedback and opinions. They must feel like they're a part of it.
SHARON: I always get, "It's my favorite when you're all together at the beginning of the show talking." That's what everybody loves.
WATCH!: Sharon, do you see yourself as the mama hen, who's done it all?
HOLLY: She just called you a hen.
WATCH!: In the most complimentary way!
SHARON: I'm a cow.
JULIE: She's the mama bear.
SHARON: I am. My whole life has been pretty extreme—great highs and great lows
WATCH!: People have a lot of respect for you.
SHARON: The most important thing is that we don't pretend to be something we're not. Because we're not experts. We're just five working women with opinions. I never want to come off as an expert, or, "I know this and you don't."
.SHARON: We're not better than anybody else. We're all blessed to be in this position where people want to hear our opinions.
WATCH!: Let's talk about some of the amazing guests you've had so far. Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey … the list goes on. Leah, who's on your wish list?
LEAH: The president and his wife. It's not so much that I have burning questions. I would really just want to get into their relationship more. Like, "Is he annoying? Does he leave stuff around, like wet towels?"
SARA: The real him.
LEAH: Yeah. Does she say, "I don't love the speech you gave today," or, "I want you to fire the mayor of this town." Does her mother call her and say, "Listen, I want you to tell him …" That's what I want to know.
SHARON: They live together!
HOLLY: The first mother-in-law who lives in the White House. I want to know what that dynamic is like!
SHARON: He's lost a lot of weight. I think he needs to eat more.
WATCH!: And is he still smoking?
HOLLY: Apparently he's on the wagon right now.
LEAH: I think we all want to know more of the relationship side, as people. Yeah, you're the first lady, but you're also a woman, you're also a mother, you're also a daughter. And he's also a son and a father.
SARA: Michelle would be great. I'd love to have Oprah back and have her in the studio. No one tops Oprah-I'm so excited she did the show.
JULIE: I think it would be interesting if we pulled up a sixth chair and had Angelina Jolie dish on the topics that we break down and analyze. I don't want to interview her.
LEAH: But to get to know her.
SHARON: When you think about it, she's still very mysterious. You really don't know what makes her tick.
HOLLY: I'd like to have Carrot Top on.
SHARON: You would not, Holly Peete!
HOLLY: No, it's Michelle Obama for sure. How does a mom under that pressure raise these kids and keep them in line? She'd be my number one.
WATCH!: So let's dish on each other a little bit. Who's the biggest diva? JULIE: We all have our diva moments.
LEAH: I don't know that we're divas.
SHARON: Why are you looking at me like that, Sara? I see those nostrils flaring
HOLLY: It's Sara! [Laughs.]
LEAH: If we had to pick one, it would be Sara. It's part of her being an actor. [Laughs.] Inside she's very demanding, she's very temperamental, she's very shallow.
HOLLY: She leaves right out of here and goes to Gucci and buys 20 purses.
SARA: Can you put "sarcasm" in a parenthetical there?
WATCH!: Who's the funniest? Does anyone have a dirty side that's not revealed on the show?
SHARON: I'm pretty dirty. But I think Julie is funny.
SARA: Isn't it also surprising how funny Julie is? I think people
didn't know that going in. JULIE: I started from zero, so I didn't have much to beat.
HOLLY: Julie has some zingers, and Sara, you too. What I love about your brand of humor is that it's kind of Darlene-esque, but on another level.
WATCH!: Who gives the best advice?
HOLLY: Sharon gives great advice, but I've gotten some really good advice from Leah, too.
JULIE: Leah is traditional old school. Her advice is the good, old-fashioned way of living. And Sharon's is more like, "I've been there and back, and I've seen it and I'm very wise."
HOLLY: Julie has shared some really good professional advice with me.
JULIE: It's Chinese proverbs. [Laughs.]
HOLLY: No, This woman has been in this game. We're all rookies. Sharon's not quite a rookie because she had her own show, but from the journalist and news point of view, how to deliver, how to read a teleprompter, how to seamlessly weave it all together, Julie is on it.
SHARON: Julie is the best anchor for any show. If things don't work and our rhythm's all off, she comes in and puts it back on the right track.
WATCH!: Where do you see the show going from here?
JULIE: I see the show going many, many seasons.
SARA: I think as our friendship evolves, too, it will go deeper and deeper, which I'm excited about.
WHY EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
When The Talk premiered in October 2010, the ratings were high—but what hosts Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini may not have expected is that they would continue to grow each week, especially with daytime's female audiences. Here, executive producer Brad Bessey explains why the show is doing so well with not only mothers—but all women.
"My time and energy has been to make sure that we're having a conversation with our viewers. Everyone asked, ‘What kinds of bells and whistles will you bring?' And we really just wanted to strip it down so that women were having a conversation with an audience, so that in a way the audience becomes the next host. Everything had to do with being authentic.
"We set the table and created the space so these women would be having a conversation about real life. It's about stripping away instead of building it up. It's a very personality-driven show. I think what the audience is responding to is a connection with our hosts.
"The question I get most often is, ‘Are they really good friends?' And the answer is yes. These women are friendly. They spend a lot of their day together. Or on a Sunday, Sara will be over at Leah's. They do hang out together, and they're inviting America and women into the conversation. There's a respect for the audience. For Sara, it's always, ‘Is this real? I want to feel connected to this.' "There was a day when everyone wore purple on TV to draw awareness to bullying in schools, to stand united. Leah's daughter had brought home a note that the students were encouraged to wear purple the next day, so she sent an email to me and the other hosts and said, ‘Don't you think we should be doing this?' Before you know it, we were doing that topic on the show, the women were all wearing purple and we engaged people in the conversation.
"We don't just cover topics—we cover things they care about in the core of their hearts and their minds. It's an amazing group of women who have a tremendous depth of character and heart, and they wear their hearts on their sleeves every day."