A handful of people who used to work for The Ellen Degeneres Show are speaking out against the show’s executive producers and their behavior behind closed doors. According to BuzzFeed reporter Krystie Lee Yandoli, several ex-employees told her that she one of the executive producers “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” while another EP used to solicit oral sex at company parties.
The most common places for sexual harassment and misconduct to take place was in the show’s control room. Coincidentally, that was also one of the most coveted places to be behind the scenes, especially as the shows were being filmed.
When talking about head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman, one former employee told BuzzFeed that Leman approached him at a company party in 2013 and asked for a “hand job or perform oral sex” to be performed on him in a bathroom. Leman was also accused of grabbing a production assistant’s penis and in a separate incident, assaulted a PA by groping him in a car and kiss his neck.
As BuzzFeed continued, Leman was also known for making unwanted sexually explicit comments. Some examples that were provided by the ex-employees included him pointing out his employees’ “bulges” and asking them, “Are you a top or a bottom?”
One former employee said the comments were “masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm.” It was also common that Leman would choose lower-level employees, knowing that they would feel like they were in a position to speak up.
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that,” Buzzfeed was told.
Leman has since issued a statement following BuzzFeed’s jaw-dropping article regarding his 17 years at the Ellen Show.
“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.”Kevin Leman
Ellen Degeneres and Warner Bros. have also spoken out, as Mamas Uncut previously reported. According to Warner Bros, an investigation is ongoing, and although not every claim had been corroborated. they revealed that they are “disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management.”
Us Weekly has since reported that rumors suggest Ellen “feels betrayed by staff coming forward about their experiences. She is considering stepping down from the long-running talk show.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.