Ellen DeGeneres has sent a letter to the staff of her talk show addressing recent allegations of workplace misconduct.
Over the past few months, there have been rumors about a toxic working environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with some staff reporting they felt bullied, intimidated or discriminated against. Earlier this month, Buzzfeed ran a piece detailing the situation.
Former employees suggested that DeGeneres’ ‘Be kind’ slogan was ironic given how toxic they had found their experience of working on the show. The allegations were leveled chiefly at some executive producers and senior managers of the show, rather than DeGeneres herself.
That piece prompted an investigation by WarnerMedia, which produces the Emmy Award-winning TV show. Now, The Hollywood Reporter has published a letter it says DeGeneres emailed to staff yesterday. It says the email was given to them by two different staff members, with one source saying DeGeneres was encouraged not to comment while the internal investigation was taking place. It’s now believed the investigation has concluded and staff changes will soon be made.
DeGeneres began her email to staff by recalling the beginnings of her talk show.
“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.”
She says she could not have had the success she has enjoyed without the contributions of others, but, “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.”
She goes on to say that she know what it’s like to be treated unfairly.
“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.”
She thanks people for bringing issues to her attention and promises, “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.”
You can read the whole letter at The Hollywood Reporter.
When DeGeneres talks about “being judged” and almost losing everything, she is presumably referencing her coming out as gay. She did this in 1997, during the run of her successful, eponymous sitcom, Ellen. However, coming out came at a price. Her sitcom was dropped shortly afterward and her work offers dried up for several years until she found success again with her talk show.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is now in its 17th year and was renewed in 2019 for another three seasons.
WarnerMedia did not confirm what staff changes may be taking place but issued a separate statement.
“Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres take the recent allegations around the show’s workplace culture very seriously. We hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture. As a result, WarnerMedia interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management.
“We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”