The past year hasn’t been an easy road for ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show.’ From allegations of a toxic workplace environment to major exits, this is what you need to know about the latest regarding the talk show.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been a daytime mainstay since 2003. Ellen DeGeneres, 62, has been the host of her own talk show for 18 seasons. Her show has been one of the most beloved talk shows for nearly 2 decades, but the year 2020 featured a series of allegations that threatened the show’s future.
In the wake of reports about The Ellen DeGeneres Show allegedly being a toxic work environment for employees and accusations about Ellen’s alleged behavior on set, many wondered whether or not the show could get cancelled. From the status of the show to the many allegations, HollywoodLife has rounded up the key things you need to know about what’s going on with The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Is ‘The Ellen Show’ Being Cancelled?
No, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has not been cancelled. Back in May 2019, the daytime talk show icon revealed that she had signed a new deal to continue hosting her talk show through 2022. Ellen made the announcement herself amid speculation that her talk show may be coming to an end.
“From the beginning, I said this show was going to be like a relationship,” Ellen said in her video. “We’ve been through the good, the bad, the Fifty Shades of Grey phase. It’s been a lot of fun and 16 years is a pretty good run. Sometimes in a relationship, you need to take a break. But I don’t. You’re stuck with me. I just signed for three more years.”
Doing this show has been the ride of my life. pic.twitter.com/Mytkjxj4xa
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 21, 2019
What Happened To ‘Ellen’?
Ellen’s show has been on hiatus since mid-December 2020. The talk show was put on pause after Ellen tested positive for COVID-19. “Hi Everyone, I want to let you all know that I tested positive for Covid-19,” she wrote on Twitter on Dec. 10. “Fortunately, I’m feeling fine right now. Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines. Please stay healthy and safe.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2020
The Ellen DeGeneres Show was expected to start production again on Jan. 4, 2021. However, the show’s return was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Due to the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, and for the continued safety of our staff and crew, The Ellen DeGeneres Show will push production by a week,” a spokesperson for Telepictures, the show’s producer, said in a statement to Deadline. Other than Ellen, no cases had been reported amongst the Ellen staff.
Telepictures gave an update about the status of the show just days before The Ellen DeGeneres Show was set to start up. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show will resume production in-studio on Monday, January 11th with a virtual audience,” a spokesperson for Telepictures told PEOPLE. “For the safety of the staff and crew, the show will further reduce on-site personnel and maintain our industry-leading production protocols.”
‘Ellen’s Behind-The-Scenes Drama
Over the past year, Ellen has received serious backlash for her alleged behavior on the set of her show. The controversy began when YouTube beauty guru Nikkie de Jager, a.k.a. NikkieTutorials, revealed that her visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show had been less-than-stellar. Nikkie opened up about her experience during an appearance on the Dutch talk show De Wereld Draait Door in Feb. 2020.
“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,” Nikkie told the host Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, according to a translation by Sebastian Williams. “It’s nice that you say ‘hi’ before the show. She didn’t.”
Nikkie later told the Dutch magazine &C: “Call me naive, but I kind of expected to be welcomed with confetti cannons: ‘Welcome to The Ellen DeGeneres Show!’ But instead, I was greeted by an angry intern who was a bit overworked. I was expecting a Disney show but got Teletubbies after dark.”
In March 2020, podcast host Kevin T. Porter started a Twitter thread and alleged that Ellen is “notoriously one of the meanest people alive.” He asked his followers to respond to his tweet with the “most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean.” The Twitter thread was filled with thousands of responses.
Ellen staff members were reportedly furious after not receiving any “written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month,” two anonymous sources told Variety in April 2020. The crew was reportedly also upset that the show hired an outside, non-union tech company to help Ellen tape remotely from her California home amid the pandemic. Warner Bros. Television, which distributes the show, responded with a statement: “Our executive producers and Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind.”
A few months later, BuzzFeed News published a bombshell report after speaking to one current and 10 former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. They alleged they were “fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals.” Another claimed she was “fed up with comments about her race” and “essentially walked off the job.” Employees were reportedly told by direct managers “not to speak” to Ellen if they saw her around the office.
One former employee revealed in the BuzzFeed News report that they went on medical leave for one month to check into a mental health facility following a suicide attempt. When they returned to work, they were told their job had been eliminated. “You’d think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives,” the employee, whose story was corroborated by four employees and medical records, told BuzzFeed News.
The former employees did blame executive producers and senior managers for the show’s environment but a former employee said Ellen “really needs to take more responsibility” for the workplace environment on her set. “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,” the employee said in the BuzzFeed News report.
In response to the BuzzFeed News report, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner released the following statement: “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. 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.”
For a separate BuzzFeed News report, the outlet spoke to 36 former employees who discussed alleged incidents of harassment, sexual misconduct, and assault from Ellen producers such as Kevin Leman. An ex-employee alleged that Kevin, who was also a head writer, asked him to “give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013.” Additional employees revealed allegations of groping and sexually explicit comments against Kevin. Kevin later responded to the allegations and denied “any kind of sexual impropriety.”
‘The Ellen Show’ Moving Forward
Less than two weeks after the BuzzFeed News report, Variety revealed on July 27, 2020, that The Ellen DeGeneres Show was undergoing an internal investigation following allegations of a toxic workplace environment. Just 3 days after the internal investigation was revealed, Ellen broke her silence about the situation.
Her letter to staff, which was acquired by Variety, read: “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. 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.”
In the wake of all the allegations, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, as well as co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, were cut from the show, Variety reported. Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner, and Derek Westervelt kept their jobs as executive producers.
HollywoodLife learned EXCLUSIVELY from a source close to Ellen that this was a “wake-up call” for the host. “Ellen is feeling the effects of all the talk that has been going down,” our source said. “It is now starting to be more real and she is sad it has got to this point, but she is taking it as a great wake-up call. She is upset and she actually is interested in righting a wrong.”
When season 18 premiered in Sept. 2020, Ellen made a very public apology. “I’m so happy to be back in the studio. There are a lot of things I want to talk about,” she said. “I learned that things happened here that should never have happened. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. 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.”
Reaction To The Backlash
A number of celebrities came to Ellen’s defense when it came to the allegations against the longtime talk show host. Katy Perry tweeted that she only had “positive takeaways” from her time with Ellen. Ashton Kutcher said that Ellen always treated him and his team with “respect and kindness.”
Two comedians having fun with each other to entertain. I was never a victim guys, I was always in on the joke. https://t.co/mjUjPNRHlb
— Sofia Vergara (@SofiaVergara) August 21, 2020
Many fans had claimed Ellen mocked Sofia Vergara’s accent during one of their interviews. The Modern Family alum denied any beef with Ellen. “I was never a victim guys, I was always in on the joke,” Sofia stressed. Portia de Rossi, Ellen’s wife, posted a photo on Instagram that read: “I Stand By Ellen.”
As for Ellen’s fans, she still has over 79 million followers on Twitter and over 93 million Instagram followers. When Ellen tweeted about the new year, a number of fans responded to the talk show host. One fan tweeted, “Happy new year Ellen thank yu [sic] for everything that yu [sic] do for people during this pandemic we all love you so much.” Another wrote, “Love your work Ellen stay safe and look forward to 2021 watching the Ellen shows.”