Following Complaints About the ‘Toxic’ Work Culture, ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ Is Under Internal Investigation

When Ellen DeGeneres launched her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in 2003, she quickly became a beloved icon of daytime TV. Her brand was all laughter and dancing and positivity, and it resonated for more than a decade. But behind that façade of kindness, something less kind has allegedly been happening.

There have been rumors for years that DeGeneres is perhaps not as nice as she projects herself to be on her show, and those rumors came to a boil recently when BuzzFeed News published interviews with several current and former Ellen staffers who came forward with stories of abuse, mistreatment, and cruelty on the set.

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The Ellen DeGeneres Show Is Under Investigation After ‘Toxic Work Environment’ Claims

Following the public complaints about Ellen‘s “toxic work environment”, People reports than an internal investigation into the show is being investigated internally by WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm.

Variety reports that executives from Telepictures (which produces the show) and Warner Bros. Television (which distributes it) sent a memo to Ellen staffers explaining the investigation.

Following Complaints About the 'Toxic' Work Culture, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' Is Under Internal Investigation

Though rumors about the Ellen workplace environment and DeGeneres herself have been circulating for years, they remained just rumors until July of 2020, when BuzzFeed News published comments by 11 Ellen staffers (one current and 10 former), which allege a series of on-set abuses and cruel behavior.

“That ‘be kind’ bulls*** only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former Ellen staffer told BuzzFeed News last month. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”

Following Complaints About the 'Toxic' Work Culture, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' Is Under Internal Investigation
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Staff at the 46th Daytime Emmy Awards Gala on May 5, 2019

Other people quoted in the article spoke to specific and troubling issues. One claimed they were fired for taking medical leave to check into a care facility after attempting suicide. Others spoke to a work environment they described as racist. One former staffer claims a senior writer on the show told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.”

Several of the people BuzzFeed News spoke to placed most of the blame on the showrunners and producers, not on DeGeneres herself, though at least one still felt DeGeneres is ultimately responsible, saying:

“If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what’s going on, I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody’s happy,’ and she just believes that, but it’s her responsibility to go beyond that.”

BuzzFeed News
Following Complaints About the 'Toxic' Work Culture, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' Is Under Internal Investigation

Shortly after the BuzzFeed News article was published, Ellen show executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner issued a statement about the accusations:

“Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment. We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience,” the statement read. “It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”

USA Today

DeGeneres herself has not spoken directly about the accusations about her show. Given the news of this investigation, however, it is likely she will soon issue some sort of statement. We certainly hope she does.

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