Ellen DeGeneres is a prominent comedian and member of the LGBTQ community who has been working in the entertainment industry since the ‘90s. She has built her reputation around the motto “be kind.”
However, recent allegations by former staff members of DeGeneres’s daytime talk show are claiming that DeGeneres may not be as kind off-screen as she is on-screen.
BuzzFeed News published a report in July containing interviews with 10 former and one current staff members about the work environment behind the scenes of the talk show. The staff members anonymously discussed their experiences of microaggressions and fear that made their time working on the show unpleasant.
At the time, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner released a statement, apologizing to the staffers for anything that made them feel uncomfortable.
“Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” they said in a joint statement to BuzzFeed. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience.”
The BuzzFeed report sparked an investigation of the show by WarnerMedia, and staffers were sent a memo stating they would be anonymously interviewed about their experiences in an effort to try and better the workplace environment.
DeGeneres herself also sent a memo to her staffers that stated she was glad these issues were brought to her attention, and she would try to be better in the future.
“Hey everybody — it’s Ellen,” the memo read. “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”
But even after these statements from DeGeneres and her executives, other staffers and celebrities still came forward to share their personal stories.
Actor Brad Garrett tweeted, “Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge…”
— Brad Garrett (@RealBradGarrett) July 31, 2020
Lea Thompson backed up his claim.
Other celebrities came to DeGeneres’ defense. Portia DeRossi, DeGeneres’ wife, as well as Ashton Kutcher, Diane Keaton, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Jay Leno and Katy Perry all talked about their positive experiences with DeGeneres.
Another BuzzFeed report was published later in July in which even more staffers came forward, this time alleging sexual misconduct by members of DeGeneres’ male staff, notably head writer Kevin Leman and executive producer Ed Glavin. Leman has denied the allegations and Glavin has not yet publicly addressed them.
Former show DJ Tony Okungbowa also came forward in August, stating he experienced a toxic environment when he was working on the show, addressing his experience on Instagram.
“Hey Guys, I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times,” he wrote. “I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen DeGeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there … I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”
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Hey Guys, I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times. I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there. I was on air talent from 2003-2006 and from 2007 -2013. While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.
“The Ellen Show” has been a staple of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades, and DeGeneres has made a name for herself as a funny, talented and inspiring woman. After her first sitcom was canceled when she decided to reveal that she was lesbian, “The Ellen Show” acted as her second chance.
She was able to be herself on-air, having fun with various celebrities and becoming known for her large donations and prizes that she often gave to those who visited her show.
Despite the outcry for DeGeneres to be replaced, there has been no indication that “The Ellen Show” is going anywhere — for now.