Ellen DeGeneres has come forward. In a letter to her crew, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, DeGeneres addressed the allegations of misconduct and environment of fear that has since prompted an internal investigation by Warner Media.
“My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that,” DeGeneres wrote. “Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues.”
DeGeneres went on to contend that the show’s growth has made it difficult to “stay on top of everything”, prompting “others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done,” to which she explicitly admitted: “Clearly some didn’t.”
“That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again,” DeGeneres argued. She then brought her own past into the fold, having been the subject of multiple death threats after coming out in the ’90s. “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.”
Never once does DeGeneres name any employees. However, sources close to The Hollywood Reporter say executive producer Ed Glavin, who was the subject of many claims, will be let go. “Once he’s out, it will be like a new day,” a source indicated.
Those same sources also say the investigation is largely complete. In fact, Warner Bros., who had previously declined to comment, has since released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, which you can read below:
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.
Update: On Thursday night, BuzzFeed has published a second report with further allegations against Glavin, as well as executive producer Kevin Leman. Numerous former employees say they either experienced or witnessed Leman groping male production assistants, with one individual claiming Leman asked to give him a hand job or oral sex in bathroom during a 2013 company party. Leman was also known for making “sexually explicit comments,” including drawing attention to male staffers’ “bulges in their crotches,” and asking things like, “Are you a top or a bottom?” Many of his victims were reportedly younger, low-level employees.
“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,” said one former employee.
Leman shared a statement denying “any kind of sexual impropriety.” “I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense,” he wrote, adding, “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.”
Of the three dozen former Ellen employees, many claimed Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women.” Five individuals interviewed discussed a button under Glavin’s desk that would close his office door, which he used “as an intimidation tactic.”
Co-executive producer Jonathan Norman is also accused by one former employee of grooming. The accuser was taken “to concerts and other work-related perks” before Norman eventually attempted to perform oral sex on him. Three others corroborated the allegations.
In a statement, Norman said, “I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never ‘groomed’ anyone. I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”
You can also read DeGeneres’ full letter below.
Hey everybody – it’s Ellen. 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.
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.
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.
It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise 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.
I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.
Stay safe and healthy.