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CBS’ The Talk stars talk about the talk that Julie Chen got the job because of her husband

Panelists on the new CBS daytime talk show–which is basically The View but with a panel of mothers, most of whom are also associated with reality series–faced TV critics yesterday. That’s the show Bethenny Frankel was in the show’s pilot but isn’t on the panel; had she replaced Leah Remini, the entire panel, with the exception of the show’s creator Sara Gilbert, would have been formed of women involved with reality shows.

The show has the ridiculous title of The Talk, and if the panel/press conference was any indication, it’ll be somewhat of a trainwreck. For example, Celebrity Apprentice runner-up Holly Robinson Peete said, “The one thing my daughter did say that was completely and totally off limits was her–sorry, guys–her menstrual cycle.” As Marissa Jaret Winokur immediately pointed out, “But now you are saying it right now.” And in a room full of journalists!

During the press conference, Big Brother host Julie Chen again proved herself to be a surprisingly human robot. Asked about continuing with The Early Show, Julie showed that her programming is evolving so much that she’s even self-aware. “Obviously, I can’t be one of the daily co-hosts because that would be too much even for the Chenbot. I am not programmed to do that,” she said.

Julie even showed signs of being an actual journalist, like she did last year when she tore apart Braden. The initial press release about the series mentioned all of the husbands or partners of the panelists–except for Sara Gilbert, who is gay and has a female partner. But that word nor the l-word were spoken until Julie Chen showed some journalistic chops by saying those words: “Once we get on the air, you’re probably going to see how much press there is about Sara Gilbert is a lesbian, and then you probably can answer that a little bit more accurately, I would think. It’s a whole new journey.”

After a dumb question about pet peeves related to their partners, Julie said, “I need to go last because I have to pick this very carefully. What do you mean the show got cancelled? We’re not even on the air yet.”

That was a reference to her husband, CBS president Les Moonves, and perhaps the biggest consistent criticism of the show has been that Julie got the job simply because she is married to the boss. (James Poniewozik has a hilarious take on this.) Earlier, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler told critics that “Julie has a terrific reputation. And the bottom line is the executive producer of the show, Sara Gilbert, said, “What about Julie? Do you think she would be interested?” And we followed her lead. And truth is I was involved. I made the decision. I don’t think Leslie’s unhappy with the decision, but we’re thrilled to have her.”

Julie was asked about that later, and kind of babbled a little bit and made it seem like the request was totally unexpected (I was like, “Wow.” When you get a request from someone that you’ve never met before and you don’t really know and they, obviously, are a fan, because I would hope you wouldn’t ask me otherwise, I was very — I was flattered, and I was excited because I had just recently become a mom”).

But in the earlier session, a critic replied to Tassler by saying what everyone was thinking: “You know, if I was an executive producer and I was developing a show that was competing against at least two others, I would try to get the wife of the CEO on it.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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