After weeks of a wild ride for Ellen DeGeneres, it seems as though the tv talk show host is handling the strain well, according to her wife Portia de Rossi.
What’s been going on with Ellen
Over the past few months, the Ellen DeGeneres Show host has been hit by one thing after the other. First, there was talk of sexual misconduct by producers for DeGeneres’s popular daytime tv talk show. These allegations were followed by ones that the backstage atmosphere for the Ellen Show was toxic for both guests and employees.
Ellen bullying a child
As if that wasn’t enough, last week we shared a story about a man who had accused DeGeneres of seriously mistreating him when he was a child. The DailyMailTV reported in an exclusive interview that Ben Gravolet, a now-52-year-old VP for a marketing agency, accuses DeGeneres of, “vile,” and, “bullying behavior.”
But where did it all begin?
It all began in February, when beauty vlogger Nikki de Jager was a guest on the Ellen Show to discuss her life as a transgender woman. de Jager later expressed disappointment in her experience as a guest on the show. Specifically, de Jager said that, “‘Let me say that there’s a big difference between this show and Ellen DeGeneres, and I’m saying that in favor of this show.’ In her conversation on the Dutch take show, de Jager also noted that DeGeneres did not say hello to her before the show and agreed that DeGeneres was ‘cold and distant.'”
Kevin T Porter asks people to share their experiences
de Jager’s experience was not an outlier, according to a tweet by comedian Kevin T Porter. Porter posted, “Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen DeGeneres always talks about!She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to@LAFoodBank.”
In response to this tweet, thousands of guests, fans, and former employees responded with experiences they had with the Ellen Show, or DeGeneres herself, and they did not paint the comedian and talk show in a flattering light. Many talked about the star herself being cold or rude, or that that backstage crew members made them feel unwelcome or inconvenient. Some even talked about experiencing racism or intimidation from Ellen Show employees.
More woes for the Ellen Show
in April, Variety shared that more woes had surfaced for DeGeneres. When in-house filming for the Ellen Show was suspended due to the coronavirus, employees said they were left bereft of pay and communication from those higher up. Insiders share with Variety, “The core stage crew for the, “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” consisting of more than 30 employees, received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month, said two sources, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Higher-ups in production would occasionally answer phone calls but reveal little, added one of the sources. The crew was further incensed by the show’s recent hire of an outside, non-union tech company to help DeGeneres tape remotely from her home in California.”
Employees say the workplace environment was toxic
Not long after the story accusing the Ellen Show of not adequately meeting the needs of its employees during the pandemic shutdown, Buzzfeed broke another devastating story. According to information gathered by BuzzFeed News, the entire work environment was toxic. “BuzzFeed News spoke to one current and 10 former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution from the award-winning NBC daytime talk show and others in the entertainment industry. They said they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. One employee, who claims she was fed up with comments about her race, essentially walked off the job. Others said they were also instructed by their direct managers to not speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office.”
DeGeneres tries to apologize
This sort of behavior runs directly in conflict with the Ellen Show mantra, which urges people to be kind. After these accusations, DeGeneres reached out to her employees through a letter that was obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. The leaked letter states,
“Hey everybody — it’s Ellen. 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.
I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.
I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.
It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.
I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.
Stay safe and healthy.
It just gets worse
Perhaps that would have been the end of things, but the very next day even more shocking allegations were made, this time against three Ellen Show producers. This time, the accusations made were of a criminal nature and suggested sexual misconduct. The three producers were accused of using their power and position to harass, inappropriately proposition, and sexually assault underlings who worked for them. Buzzfeed reports that the misconduct was rampant, widespread, and suggests that DeGeneres was likely to know what was happening.
Despite everything, DeGeneres is not going anywhere
There was talk for a time that DeGeneres planned to step down from the Ellen Show as the best way to preserve her brand and reputation. Great speculation was made about who her successor might be if DeGeneres left the show.
But ultimately DeGeneres decided she was ready to get back in the studio, and the network made plans to resume filming. As this occurs, Warner Media, the network that produces the Ellen Show, has launched investigations into all of the allegations.
Fans can breathe a little more easily
de Rossi’s revelation that DeGeneres is doing well despite all that has been going on is a balm for worried fans. The Ellen Show, and DeGeneres herself, are a household name and have amassed a huge following of people who tune in to watch the witty comedian interview celebrities and guests, and more importantly to watch her give items and money to people in need.
Now that fans can be certain that their favorite tv talk show host will return, all that’s left to do is for the investigation to play itself out. Once the truth is uncovered, DeGeneres will have to address whatever the network finds. But for now, fans can rejoice to see their favorite host back in the saddle and ready for more shenanigans and charity.