The talk show circuit is one of the most important components of a celebrity press tour, offering multiple opportunities for high-profile talent to promote their latest projects as well as convey their personalities to mainstream audiences. That said, some major names are — or have been — banned from the most popular small screen couches, whether it be for out-of-turn language, over-the-top antics or just rubbing the host the wrong way. Reality TV powerhouses the Kardashians, for example, sparked the ire of news anchor Anderson Cooper when he revealed on “Watch What What Happens Live” in 2012 that he didn’t want any members of the famous family on “Anderson,” his then-daytime chat program. He told Bravo host Andy Cohen that the influential clan were all over the media, so he simply didn’t have anything new to say to them and didn’t see the point in putting them on his show. Anderson also called the Kardashians “dreadful” and once referred to the success of their reality show as “depressing.”
Join Wonderwall.com as we run through more stars who’ve been told they’re no longer welcome on talk shows…
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Madonna is famous for starting controversy. But that’s not why an equally controversial TV host doesn’t want to interview her. Madonna’s long-standing feud with TV host Piers Morgan has led him to repeatedly declare that he would never allow her to appear on any of his shows. He once said she wasn’t welcome on his old CNN show “Piers Morgan Tonight” because she was “boring” and “annoying.” During CNN’s Television Critics Association Winter 2011 session, the Brit said the two have “never really seen eye-to-eye. There was a bread roll-throwing incident in London in the mid ’90s; there was an incident at a hotel in the south of France [at] the Cannes Film Festival involving a photographer and a bodyguard; there’s been an incident involving a pub owned by her recently departed husband, Guy Ritchie, where my brother was the manager.” While the pop music icon has never responded to his backlash, her manager tweeted a picture of an email from Piers’ producers requesting that she come on his show. Piers hurriedly explained that the email was about his U.K. show, while the ban was for his U.S. show, but she was soon banned from both. Needless to say, the Queen of Pop has found other promotional opportunities in the interim.
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Now-sober Dax Shepard once let his past drug and alcohol abuse get in the way of his success. In 2004, his issues led to an appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” that got him banned from the show until he cleaned up his act. He relayed the disastrous incident on Blake Griffin’s “The Pursuit of Healthiness” podcast, explaining that he broke a small table while jokingly falling over, appeared to slur his words and didn’t stick to the stories he was supposed to tell. “I was banned from that show for some years, until I got sober,” Dax said, adding that he’s gone on to be interviewed by Conan a “bazillion times” since. The actor even made light of the situation when he later appeared on Conan’s cable talk show “Conan,” with the host replying, “Two-thirds of our guests are wasted, so I wouldn’t worry about that.”
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Hugh Grant is famous for his British charm, but that wasn’t the case during a 2009 appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” In an interview with Stephen Colbert in 2012, Jon was asked to name his least favorite guest and his answer was Hugh, “and we’ve had dictators on this show,” he added. Jon called the actor “a big pain in the a**” and banned him from returning. The “Notting Hill” star reportedly gave producers a hard time about his interview and complained about the clip they showed to promote his movie “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” — even though his own publicists were the ones who chose the clip. Jon responded with, “Well, then make a better f****** movie.” Hugh later confirmed the incident on Twitter, writing, “Turns out my inner crab got the better of me with TV producer in 09. Unforgivable. J Stewart correct to give me kicking.”
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Many people have preconceived notions about the reality TV genre’s breakout names without ever having met them. On his show “Watch What Happens Live,” host Andy Cohen once revealed a list of people he wouldn’t have on his program, and it included “The Apprentice” star and former President Donald Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. Not only that, but when presented with the idea of Omarosa becoming a “Real Housewives” star in 2018, the Bravo executive tweeted, “That’s a HARD PASS.” Andy added on Instagram that he would rather “quit and shovel poop” in response to a fan who asked him to “give Omarosa her own show.”
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Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman had a feud that went on for nearly 16 years during which both refused to let the other appear on their respective talk shows. Many believed the mysterious rift began after the late night host made jokes about Oprah at the 1995 Academy Awards, but the former daytime host later revealed that it was actually because of a time she appeared on his show in 1989 as a guest and was heckled by his audience, which she described as a “terrible experience.” She explained it all during David’s 2013 appearance on her program “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” adding, “The guy in the audience started yelling, ‘Get her, Dave!’ You were sort of baiting the audience, and there were a bunch of drunk guys down the front. I was trying to like, you know, mitigate the whole thing, and it felt so uncomfortable to me. I didn’t want to have that experience again.” The former “Late Show” host apologized and the two publicly buried the hatchet, appearing on each other’s shows for the first time in nearly two decades.
Howard Stern has crafted an historic career as one of radio’s premiere shock jocks, but his tactics left a bad taste in the mouth of former “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. During a 1995 appearance on Jay’s late night show, Howard walked onto the stage with two bikini-clad adult film actresses and prompted the women to kiss each other in what he said was TV’s first lesbian kiss. Throughout the segment, he talked over Jay and his other guests and reportedly left Jay so furious that the comic nearly walked off set and and yelled at Howard’s producer that he’d “s******* in his house.” Jay then called into Howard’s show and said that the radio host had “gone beyond the acceptable standards.” In the years that followed, Howard frequently publicly criticized Jay, once calling him a “spineless maggot” and accusing him of ripping off his material. Jay eventually invited his nemesis back on “The Tonight Show” to hash things out, but Howard refused.
The late comedienne Joan Rivers got her first big break performing stand-up on “The Tonight Show” when Johnny Carson was acting as host. Her frequent appearances (near 100 in total) became a popular part of the series, leading Joan to even guest host in Johnny’s absence numerous times. As a result, she eventually landed a talk show of her own in the mid-’80s at a time when a female presence in late night television was unheard of. Joan had always publicly given Johnny credit for giving her a huge career bump and even rejected job offers to stay loyal to her mentor. However, after she scored her own series, Johnny banned her from “The Tonight Show,” as well as any celebrity guests who appeared on her show, making it near impossible for Joan to secure good bookings. Johnny had said he was upset that she wasn’t upfront about her move, but she claimed he never returned her calls. Sadly, the two never spoke again before Johnny died in 2005. Jay Leno eventually took over as the host of “The Tonight Show” and upheld Joan’s ban out of respect to Johnny, marking 30 years before she made her return to the series when Jimmy Fallon nabbed the role of host. “Being in the studio brought back the most wonderful, wonderful memories of the night that jump-started my career,” she told Variety about that appearance.
Another name on Piers Morgan’s list of banned celebrities is “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer. He was added after he walked off set prior to a 2012 interview with the British host. Kelsey had requested that no pictures of his ex-wife, former “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Camille Grammer, be used on the show as the pair had just come out of a highly publicized and contentious divorce. Despite that, a photo was still shown, leading the actor to leave before the interview even began. Piers then announced that Kelsey was barred from his show, tweeting, “So, Kelsey Grammer saw a photo of his ex-wife Camille in the open of our show and legged it. Extraordinary. Never had this happen before… I like Kelsey Grammer personally, but this was a shockingly unprofessional thing to do. I wasn’t even going to mention his ex-wife.” Kelsey’s rep reportedly responded to the tweet, writing in a statement, “Piers needs to take responsibility for what he did to Kelsey. It’s called accountability.“
Vivica A. Fox’s friendship with another celebrity got her banned from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” During a 2005 interview with the actress, Jimmy made cracks at former “The View” host Star Jones, including one while listing Vivica’s extensive list of credits and ending with, “And most harrowing of all, Star Jones’s bridesmaid!” The actress wasn’t impressed, telling Jimmy she didn’t find his jokes about her friend amusing. He continued to mention Star and Vivica walked off, leaving him to finish the segment alone. Jimmy then said during an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” that he wouldn’t have her back on ever again. Later, during her own appearance on Andy Cohen’s Bravo talk show, Vivica explained that “he dissed my good friend Star Jones, and I had just been in her wedding. And, you know, I’m a ride or die chick. You’re not going to talk about my sister.” She added that she was surprised by the banning because he had actually apologized to her for the incident at an event.
It comes as no surprise that the most divisive president the United States has had in recent memory ended up on the bad side of some talk show hosts. For former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, it started long before his presidency; she said she wouldn’t have Donald on her show in the ’90s and early ’00s because she thought he was a hack. Then Seth Meyers banned Donald amid his 2016 presidential campaign in retaliation for the businessman-turned-politician’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials when the newspaper printed a headline he didn’t like. “We instituted this ban despite the fact that he’s never been here, or asked to be here, or would ever be caught dead here, and I just think that takes an amazing amount of courage on our part,” the late night host joked. It wasn’t long before Ellen DeGeneres joined in on the act, saying she didn’t want to interview Donald on her daytime show as “I don’t want to give him a platform because it just validates him.”
Donald Trump isn’t the only member of the Trump family to have talk show invitations withheld: Sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have suffered the same fate. During a 2019 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live,” late night host Jimmy Kimmel named the pair as the two guests he would not have on his show. He didn’t elaborate on his decision at the time, but he’s made it clear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that he isn’t a fan of the Trumps, often mocking the entire family during his monologues. He went so far as to once say, “The president’s son, Eric Trump… Is he the smart one? No, there are no smart ones.”
Vince Vaughn didn’t receive a full-out ban, but he wasn’t given an invitation to promote his 2011 comedy “The Dilemma” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after a homophobic joke in the film’s trailer made headlines. Anderson Cooper and GLAAD both criticized the tone deaf line that resulted in the studio releasing a new trailer without the offending joke. Reports then began circulating that Ellen — openly gay herself — wouldn’t have the actor on her show following the criticism, but the film was a flop at the box office and Vince made a return to her set a few years later.
Kathy Griffin might hold the record for being banned from the most shows. In fact, the comedienne has made it a point throughout her career to push buttons as far as they can go in hopes of potentially scoring another ban. She wasn’t asked to return to “The Late Show with David Letterman” for swearing too much and has said that David was offended by her “for years.” She didn’t come back to “The View” after making a joke about the show’s creator and former co-host Barbara Walters having sex with Howard Stern or “Today” after making fun of the hosts. Kathy was reportedly not welcome on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after she claimed the daytime host had a mean streak and didn’t support women, and she didn’t appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” for a long time after an incident in which he made her cry with a joke during an interview. The outspoken star explained in her memoir how she learned about these disses, writing, “Here’s the lowdown on banning: It’s not like anybody makes a declaration outright that you’ve been banned. You find out by not getting booked on the show anymore. The reasoning can sometimes be elusive. I appeared on ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’ a few times… and then I went 10 years… before being asked back.”
While Piers Morgan is happy to ban celebrities, he’s also faced a few bans himself. Rosie O’Donnell refused to allow him on her OWN series “The Rosie Show” after finding out about his own arbitrary outlawing of her good friend Madonna. She told “Access Hollywood,” “Yes, I’ve banned Piers Morgan. He banned Madonna for no reason when his show started, so I’m banning Piers Morgan! I don’t have anybody banned, but if I have to make a list, he’s on it.”
Rosie O’Donnell prevented one more person from appearing on her shows, this time for a very different reason. She revealed during an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” that she had a small list of people who were banned from her talk show, explaining, “Sometimes it was just excessive drug use that was evident. Like cocaine on the side [of the nose] and they weren’t able to focus.” One such person was singer Leif Garrett, who she claims “came with a fresh wound from a pipe that he used for crack” during his only interview on the show in 1999. She added, “People who are that messed up shouldn’t be on TV.” However, Leif disputed the accusation, telling TooFab that he was sober at the time of that appearance. That said, he did admit that he had an unrelated drug use-related wound on his hand at the time, which he had covered with a scarf.
Conan O’Brien made a very difficult decision to ban a friend from his show for his own well-being. Comedian Artie Lange was a recurring presence on Conan’s shows and a close friend of the host. However, he’d long struggled with drug addiction while reaching new heights in his career. In his final appearance with Conan, he was visibly intoxicated on the show, which led the late night funnyman to keep Artie off the program in an effort to encourage him to get sober. “Conan banned me years ago cuz he felt I needed help,” Artie later tweeted, confirming the situation. “It was good intentions. Conan’s a great guy who’s been great to me.”
Director Harmony Korine is best known for the Selena Gomez-starring drama “Spring Breakers,” but in the ’90s, the film director made a series of memorable appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The now-sober auteur has said he was frequently high on crack and heroin at the time, which may have led to an incident that got him banned from the show. His offense? Rummaging through Meryl Streep’s purse — and getting caught red-handed by David himself. The late night host explained the situation years later when Harmony’s friend James Franco was a guest. “I went upstairs to greet Meryl Streep and welcome her to the show,” he recalled, “and I knock on the door… and she was not in there. And I looked around, and she was not in there, and I found Harmony going through her purse. True story. And so I said, ‘That’s it, put her things back in her bag and then get out.'” David ended the conversation by explaining the ban had been lifted now that Harmony had gotten his personal life in order.
One of late night’s most uncomfortable situations played out in 2009 when Jay Leno announced his retirement from “The Tonight Show” and said he would be passing the hosting baton to Conan O’Brien. However, he returned a year later, essentially kicking his successor to the curb. Conan was left feeling bitter and traded the network show for a TBS talk show simply titled “Conan.” Conan told Playboy in 2010 that he’d moved on from the incident but had no intention of burying the hatchet with Jay by having him on as a guest on his new show. “No, there are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price,” he said, joking, “He can come as the musical guest, because that I want to see; no one knows he has an operatic range.”
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