Jerry O'Connell Officially Joining 'The Talk' Following Sharon Osbourne's Exit: 'It's Really Exciting'

Sharon Osbourne exited The Talk in March following an intense on-air discussion about racism with co-host Sheryl Underwood

Jerry O'Connell
Photo: Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Jerry O'Connell is joining The Talk as a co-host, replacing Sharon Osbourne after she left the show earlier this year amid controversy.

The news was announced at the top of Wednesday's episode, with O'Connell entering the studio to "Eye of the Tiger" dressed up as Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movie series.

"It's really exciting," he told his new co-hosts after the cinematic entrance. "First of all I want to say, you ladies have been so welcoming to me, I mean, I came here as a guest, months ago, and just from the moment I walked in, you're just gracious, you're kind, you're fun, and it worked. And here we are and we're gonna have a lot of fun, we really are."

According to The Wrap, which was first to report the news, O'Connell, 47, has been in negotiations with CBS since at least May. A representative for the network previously had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.

The actor has frequently appeared as a guest host on The Talk over the years — serving in that role all week. He will be the daytime show's first full-time male co-host, joining current hosts Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots and Elaine Welteroth. Their fourth panelist, Carrie Ann Inaba, is currently on a leave of absence from the series as she navigates various health issues.

Jerry O'Connell
Jerry O'Connell on The Talk in May. Ron P. Jaffe/CBS

"Jerry, I told you that the last time you were here, I just love having you on set every day. You bring such an amazing energy to this studio, and also like I learn from you every day," Welteroth, 34, said on the show Wednesday. "You're an incredible host and and we are so lucky to have you here."

"You guys are amazing," O'Connell replied. "There's also a lot of people behind the cameras here, who really helped out a lot — our whole crew, everybody, the producers. It's a really special feeling around here."

"And you add to that!" Underwood said. "You make everybody smile, you know names, you say good morning to everybody ... We talk, we laugh, we joke."

"But I'm gonna tell you something — it's really a twofer, we get you and we get Rebecca," she continued, referencing O'Connell's wife Rebecca Romjin, with whom he celebrated 14 years of marriage on Wednesday.

Later in the show, a montage introducing O'Connell to The Talk viewers played, which the actor said was "very touching."

"It's an exciting time, it's something new," he said of his co-host role. "I don't want to say it's scary but it's new, so it's a change. And change is good, you have to do things that scare you, that shake it up a little bit and this is definitely shaking it up, but that was very touching guys thank you so much."

"I'm excited to part of the family," O'Connell said at the close of the episode, before Underwood shared that he will be taking the next few weeks off for another project before returning in his permanent co-hosting spot for season 12.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

CBS announced Osbourne's departure from the talk show on March 26. Her exit came after the series extended its hiatus for a second time, PEOPLE confirmed, as the network continued to look into Osbourne's behavior on the March 10 episode.

During the broadcast, Osbourne, 68, defended friend Piers Morgan following the backlash for his controversial remarks questioning the validity of Meghan Markle's revelations about her mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Her defense led to an intense exchange with Underwood, 57, who pushed back on Osbourne's downplaying of Morgan's comments.

Two days after the broadcast, Osbourne apologized for her "panicked" remarks. Two weeks after, CBS revealed that she would be exiting The Talk and later said it would return without her on April 12.

Sheryl Underwood and Sharon Osbourne
Sheryl Underwood and Sharon Osbourne. Christopher Willard/Freeform via Getty; Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty

In a statement about Osbourne's exit from the show, CBS said that her behavior "did not align with our values."

"Sharon Osbourne has decided to leave The Talk," the statement read. "The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon's behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace."

"We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts," the statement continued. "At the same time, we acknowledge the Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race."

RELATED VIDEO: Sheryl Underwood Breaks Silence After Sharon Osbourne's The Talk Exit, Says They Haven't Spoken

Since the on-air dispute with Underwood, Osbourne has been accused of additional instances of racism, homophobia and bullying on the set of The Talk, all of which she has denied.

On March 16, journalist Yashar Ali published a report (disputed by Osbourne) alleging that Osbourne used racial slurs while referring to her former The Talk co-host Julie Chen, citing multiple unnamed sources and another former co-host, Leah Remini.

Ali's report also claimed Osbourne referred to former co-host and executive producer Sara Gilbert, who is lesbian, as "p---- licker" and "fish eater."

Osbourne called the claims "crap, all crap," in an interview with the Daily Mail, but repeated the racist language.

Holly Robinson Peete, who exited the daytime talk show in 2011 following its first season, has also claimed that Osbourne complained she was "too 'ghetto,'" which she alleged played a role in her departure. Osbourne has denied ever calling Peete "too ghetto" or having a role in her exit from the show.

Related Articles