Ellen DeGeneres has had a wild year so far and now she has resumed filming following the shocking revelations about the working environment on her show.
Like most people, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the 62-year-old comedian and tv talk show host had to find creative ways to keep her show alive while maintaining appropriate social distancing. As a high-risk individual, being over 60, DeGeneres benefitted from the ability to work from home. Using available technology, the talk show host began producing content remotely with a limited staff. It would have seemed that DeGeneres had managed to snatch success out of the chaos, and the year ahead looked promising.
Shocking Allegations About Producers On The Ellen Show
However, over the summer, the creator and host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show has come under fire, along with several of her senior staff members, for alleged racism, sexual harassment and assault, bullying, and a toxic work environment. BuzzFeed reports that 36 former show staff members have come together to speak out against DeGeneres and some of her most trusted staff members.
The complaints are shocking, and some allege that The Ellen Show executive producer Kevin Leman made inappropriate sexual comments or propositions to staffers. One former The Ellen Show employee claims to have seen Leman actually grab a production assistant’s penis. Other complaints go into details about other disturbing behavior by Leman; comments he made to and about others, and suggestive jokes that are, “masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm” according to a source that spoke with BuzzFeed.
The website reports that Leman denied any impropriety, and published a statement he made in regards to the accusations; “I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense,” he said. “I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”
Unfortunately for DeGeneres, the complaints are not limited to a single staff member. Dozens of former employees of The Ellen Show agree that executive producer Ed Glavin touched them, and that he had a reputation for being very hands-on with women he worked with. One former employee spoke with BuzzFeed says of Glavin, “You could definitely see the creep factor, and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see. Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone… But you didn’t want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear.”
BuzzFeed also reports that Glavin used intimidation and fear in managing his employees; one such story by a former employee details Glavin flipping over a table and chair while screaming. “Five former employees also said they saw Glavin use a button at his desk to remotely shut his office door, ‘as an intimidation tactic’ during reprimands,” according to former employees who spoke with BuzzFeed, and there are several bizarre stories about Glavin using his in-office shower to make people feel uncomfortable. Glavin has not responded to these accusations, but UsWeekly reports that he is planning to step down.
The alarming allegations don’t end there. Yet another senior staff member, this time co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, is accused of having groomed an employee over time by, “taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him.” This allegation was corroborated by three former colleagues who spoke with BuzzFeed. Like Leman, Norman denies the accusations.
Twitter Thread Revealed DeGeneres Not Great To Work For
The complaints continue, alleging behavior from the uncomfortable and inappropriate, to the criminal and shocking. It is no surprise, then, that Warner Media and Telepictures, the networks that produce The Ellen Show, launched an investigation in late July. As a result of this investigation, and thousands of online comments garnered under a tweet from Kevin T. Porter, a comedian/writer/podcast producer who asked viewers and former employees to share their experiences with The Ellen Show, it seemed as though DeGeneres was in deep and troubled waters. In response to the tweet, some guests say that they were not treated kindly, and a few claim that DeGeneres herself was cold and rude behind the scenes. The talk show host issued an apology, in a letter to her employees, which reads very much as though she was unaware of what was going on right under her nose among her employees.
James Cordon To Replace Ellen?
Talks of a replacement abounded, suggesting James Cordon could be the front-runner, and rumors abounded that DeGeneres felt hurt, betrayed, and was fed up with the experience and felt it would be necessary to step down to protect her brand and reputation. Sources close to the situation claim that she knew what was going on, that it was impossible for her not to know. As other complaints, some made in Porter’s tweet, suggest the entire work environment was toxic for both employees and guests, it seems unlikely that DeGeneres was completely unaware of everything that occurred.
Even if one could argue that the behavior of three big players in her staff was a blind spot for the comedian, if the reports about the work environment and guest complaints are true, the tension behind the scenes and off stage must have been palpable and nearly impossible to ignore. DeGeneres’s apology does detail that she had outsourced a lot of the day-to-day running of the show to people who she feels must have let her down, and as a result, the vision she had for her show and the welcoming and joyful environment she hoped to foster was somehow caught up behavior the talk show host claims she would never have endorsed had she been aware.
Ellen To Resume Filming
It is surprising that amidst the investigation and growing claims against The Ellen Show and some of its most senior producers, the show plans to resume filming soon. In a call between producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly, and Derek Westervelt, a source tells UsWeekly that “They said a lot of [the claims are] true and a lot of it is not true… They said we are handling everything [and] things will be very different now. A show that brings so much happiness and fun, it should be a happy show to work on. It was a pep talk and made some staffers feel better.”
The host looks forward to getting back to production, another insider shared with Us. “Ellen is a pro, comes in to do the show, she’s very quick, she isn’t hanging around set all the time,” a third source familiar with the show says. “She was never ‘mean’ to anyone that I saw, but wasn’t trying to be anyone’s best friend. She’s there to do a job, and she does it well.”
If employees are shocked by this abrupt decision to return in the face of the scandal which seems unlikely to abate soon, they are joined in that surprise by viewers who feared the show was in danger of being shut down. A well-known name and face in most American households, DeGeneres has a huge reputation and it would be hard to unseat someone whose show has done so much good over the years, offering financial support and needed items to those who are either in need themselves or who provide charity support to others.
However, it cannot be ignored that the allegations against her staff members are very serious, and there will certainly be some reckoning required in order to heal the wounds with hurt former employees and disappointed guests, and move forward. For now, viewers will have to be content with the return to a more normal production schedule and allow the investigations to play out as they seek out the truth.