As we all know, it’s been a tumultuous six months for Ellen DeGeneres. Back in the spring, stories about people having unpleasant encounters with Ellen went viral on Twitter, and her show came under fire early in the pandemic for how staff were being compensated (or rather, not compensated). Things only got worse over the summer, as current and former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show shared their stories of experiencing sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other unacceptable treatment in the workplace. Following these allegations, the show’s production company launched a formal investigation, and multiple high-level producers were removed from their positions.
The show was on summer hiatus during the height of the drama, and when the staff returned in August, Ellen addressed the situation in a virtual meeting. But while there were some reports of Ellen’s general tone during this meeting, she didn’t publicly speak about what’s been going on until this week. On Monday, Ellen began its 18th season (with virtual audience members on some Black Mirror-esque video boards), and DeGeneres kicked off the new year by addressing the elephant in the room.
While Ellen didn’t get into the nitty gritty of the various claims, she began by saying, “I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say that I am so sorry to the people that were affected.” She continued by telling her audience that she understands her personal role: “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and I am Ellen DeGeneres.” So basically… she should have known, but she didn’t know, but she takes responsibility, but she still runs the show? Cool.
She closed out that bit of the monologue by saying that “We have made the necessary changes, and today we are starting a new chapter.” Personally, I would have liked Ellen to be a bit more specific about what changes were made, and what things are going to look like going forward.
From there, DeGeneres moved into the second portion of this fun mess: all of the accusations that she’s a sh*tty person. She revisited the origin of her “be kind to one another” mantra—to spread positivity after the 2010 death of Tyler Clementi, a teen who took his own life after being bullied for his sexuality. While standing by this important message, Ellen noted the “tricky” nature of being known as the “Be Kind Lady.” She reassured her viewers that “I am that person that you see on TV,” but added that she is “also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient, and I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.”
Honestly, Ellen is in a pretty tough position here, at least partially of her own making. Of course she has more sides of her personality than just giving out big checks on TV; I don’t think anyone thought she wasn’t human. But there’s a sliiiiiight difference between “I get frustrated,” and some of the more eyebrow-raising stories that have been told about her, like that people weren’t allowed to look at her, or speak to her, or chew gum in her presence.
All that being said, I was never a big Ellen fan before all of this drama, so I’m not really the demographic she’s trying to appeal to. When it comes down to it, she has millions of soccer moms and old people who adore her, and have probably been distraught about some of the things they’ve heard in the past few months about their beloved Ellen. I may not be 100% satisfied with her comments on Monday’s show, but I have a feeling most of her core audience is ready to love her again.
Don’t miss out on any pop culture or entertainment news. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Images: David Crotty/Getty Image
UPDATE: Given the avalanche of bad news about The Ellen DeGeneres Show, it was only a matter of time before some heads rolled, and the wait is over. In a staff meeting on Monday, it was announced that three of the show’s executive producers have been removed from their positions at the show. Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman, and Jonathan Norman were all named in last month’s Buzzfeed News report about the toxic environment at the show, and were reportedly suspended shortly after, as WarnerMedia began an internal investigation.
In Monday’s meeting, Ellen finally spoke directly to her staff about the recent turmoil at the show. A source told The New York Post that she was “emotional” in her remarks, and said that hearing the horror stories about conditions at the show “broke her heart.” While three senior producers are gone, Ellen obviously still remains at the helm of her show, and three executive producers that have been with the show since its 2003 launch are staying in their positions.
Original Article: This has been a sh*tty summer for pretty much all of us—at this point, I’m just resigned to being bored all the time, and have accepted that “vacation” is a concept that will have to wait for 2021. But for Ellen DeGeneres, this summer has been sh*tty for a very different set of reasons, and week after week, the bad press just keeps on coming. Months after a viral Twitter thread ignited long-simmering rumors of Ellen’s not-so-nice temperament, a dozen current and former employees came forward in a blistering report about the toxic culture at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Following those allegations, WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation into the show. Since then, various celebrities have come forward in support of Ellen, but the stories from her former employees continue to tell a different story.
Last week, a former camera assistant on Ellen’s show went on Australian radio show Stav, Abby & Matt, where she spoke anonymously about her experience of working on the show. She said she chose to leave Ellen after a little over a year, and that the work environment on the show is “kind of like The Devil Wears Prada,” where “everyone is trying to make it to the year.” She added that a year at Ellen is so tough that it’s “a badge of honor to make it through that and have it on your resume.”
When asked about the other staffers coming forward, she commented that “It’s important to read their stories and listen to their truth, and believe them.” She also brought up the “I stand by Ellen” movement promoted by celebrities on social media, saying that “it’s really disappointing that people aren’t believing these victims.”
With many of the recent accusations directed at the show’s producers and higher-ups, and not at DeGeneres herself, there has been debate over how much Ellen actually knows about what goes on behind the scenes of her show. The staffer agreed that DeGeneres “had no idea” what was happening on her own show, because “Ellen has no idea who most of the staff even are.” So like, she didn’t know about specific situations, but only because she didn’t give a sh*t about the crew as a whole, lol. She added that, in her year at the show, she never actually met DeGeneres, and was never even allowed in the same room as her. She claims that it’s an unwritten rule that “when Ellen enters a room, you and your entire crew need to leave… You see her and you have to run.”
The former employee shared that the dismissive attitude toward the crew goes far beyond Ellen herself, saying that the higher-ups cultivate a “culture of competition” at the show. “You’re constantly reminded that you’re so unimportant” and that “the show will succeed with or without you.” Yes, TV is a competitive industry, but there’s a big difference between a healthy level of competition, and your employer treating you like the gum on the bottom of their shoe.
The former staffer acknowledged that long hours and demanding situations are standard in the film and television industry, but that Ellen took things a step further, denying crew members “certain basic rights.” She said that it comes down to things like “asking to be paid for your overtime, or you’re asking for water on a hot day on a hot set, and you’re told things like ‘if you don’t like it here, there’s the door.'” The previous allegations included issues with overtime pay, but the water thing is news to me, and it’s seriously disturbing.
This new interview is just further confirmation that there are major issues at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the staffer’s specific comments about Ellen’s attitude toward her staff are not a good look. Somehow, there are still many people who are devoted to defending their beloved host, but at this point, why? She may not have known about some of the more serious issues at her show, but if your employees can’t even be in the same room as you out of fear, that’s a personal problem.
Don’t miss out on any pop culture or entertainment news. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Images: David Crotty/Getty Image
Since her talk show premiered in 2003, Ellen DeGeneres has cultivated an image as America’s fun aunt, playing pranks on celebrities and making adorable children go viral. It seems like everyone loves Ellen, but her reputation in the entertainment is actually a lot more complicated than that. Over the years, there have been many stories and rumors about her behavior when the cameras aren’t rolling—more on that in a minute. But first, let’s get to a viral moment from Ellen last week that has made my messy bitch side come alive. Enter, Dakota Johnson.
Last Wednesday, Dakota went on Ellen’s show, and one of the most awkward television interviews ever began when Ellen brought up Dakota’s recent 30th birthday. Ellen said she wasn’t invited to Dakota’s birthday, and all of a sudden, a switch flipped in Dakota. She responded, saying “Actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen, you were invited. No, last time I was on the show, last year, you gave me a bunch of sh*t about not inviting you, but I didn’t even know you wanted to be invited.”
AND I F*CKING OOP. I didn’t know Dakota had this in her, and I’m a little bit in awe. Ellen responded, asking why she wouldn’t want to be invited to a party, to which Dakota said “I didn’t even know you liked me.” LOLLLLL. Both of them seemed pretty unhappy at this point, and the tension was…a lot. They went back and forth a bit more, which included Dakota asking the Ellen producer to verify that she was invited, and the producer confirmed it, saying Ellen didn’t go because she was out of town. (What’s even funnier is that this was the same weekend Ellen got sh*t for watching that football game with George W. Bush. There are so many layers here!) Here’s the full video, so you can feel the awkward vibes for yourself:
Reactions online to the interview have been mixed. While a lot of people have applauded Dakota Johnson for standing her ground and not letting Ellen walk all over her, others weren’t as pleased. Many felt like Dakota kind of ambushed Ellen on her own show, and that her response felt unnecessarily icy. I see both sides of this, but personally, this is the kind of interview I want to watch. If Dakota had gone on Ellen and just told some lame story about her birthday party, I most likely wouldn’t have watched, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this article about it. Watching Dakota grill Ellen about why she didn’t come to the party felt like a Real Housewives confrontation unfolding in real time, and well, I love Real Housewives.
Dakota Johnson might be one of the first celebs to publicly push back with Ellen, but this is likely just a peek at the behind-the-scenes issues many people have with her. Let’s start with the obvious. If you’re familiar with Ellen’s show, you probably know that she loves to scare her celebrity guests. Obviously some people are more into this than others, but sometimes it just feels mean. In 2017, Sarah Paulson went on the show, and her nightmare started when Ellen snuck up on her in her dressing room. Then, during her interview, she was ambushed by clowns two different times, ultimately crawling under the coffee table. It felt like a little much, and Sarah definitely wasn’t having a good time.
Another time, Ellen hosted the teenage boys from the Stranger Things cast on her show, and they played a dumb game where they had to pull teeth from a giant monster’s mouth. The boys were laughing and having a good time, and the segment would’ve been fun, except for the fact that Ellen looked like she was ready to cut a bitch the whole time. Maybe she was just having a bad day, but she did a really bad job of hiding it. It came across like she was fed up with her guests, which isn’t a great look for a talk show host.
Having some minor awkwardness with her guests is one thing, but sources have claimed that she’s downright cruel to many of the people who work for her. In 2016, someone who had worked at the show told Radar Online that on set, “She’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She’s so nice to celebrities, but Ellen demands that junior staffers don’t speak to her, touch her or even look at her.” Another source agreed, saying that Ellen “treats staffers as if they are her peasants,” and that “Staffers never know what she’ll go off on, or who she’ll target.” Another former member of her writing staff in the early 2000s wrote that she treated her writers “like sh*t.”
Judging from those quotes, it seems like Ellen DeGeneres fits all the classic traits of a toxic boss, and if these stories are true, they’re a far cry from Ellen’s warm and friendly TV persona. No one can be expected to be bubbly and fun 100% of the time, but this kind of behavior really isn’t acceptable when it’s coming from an employer.
At this point, Ellen is basically an American institution, and I doubt that one uncomfortable moment with Dakota Johnson is really going to damage her sparkling reputation. But I guess my bigger question is why her reputation is still so sparkling in the first place? While gossip sites and blogs are full of rumors and sources detailing Ellen’s troubling behavior, mainstream publications have largely steered clear of criticizing Ellen. Because the average soccer mom isn’t digging through gossip blogs, it makes sense that their beloved Ellen remains untarnished. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s always interesting when a crack in the façade appears for a brief moment. And for that, Dakota Johnson, I thank you.
Images: Shutterstock; TheEllenShow / YouTube (2)