WarnerMedia has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct and an environment of fear on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Via The Hollywood Reporter, the news comes 11 days after a Buzzfeed report in which ten former and one current employee described a “toxic work environment.”
Rumors of verbal abuse, retribution, and racism have dogged Ellen for years. But the stories reported by Buzzfeed are still disquieting, involving little tolerance for family emergencies, inconsistently enforced rules, and attempts to silence workers who expressed concerns. One woman took medical leave after a suicide attempt, and when she returned, her position was eliminated. A Black woman who objected to the term “spirit animal” was labeled “the PC police,” and later reprimanded by a producer for suggesting the team could benefit from diversity training. These and other events precipitated WarnerMedia’s investigation, although few other details are known at this time.
Most of the allegations of misconduct were directed at the show’s senior management, and Buzzfeed didn’t find evidence of bad behavior from the “Be Kind” host herself. But some former employees expressed frustration that DeGeneres is too far removed from the show’s production. One person said, “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.”
DeGeneres has occasionally come under fire for not being nice when the cameras aren’t rolling. One of her recent guests and a former bodyguard both called her “cold.” But then again, DeGeneres has met a lot of people over the years, and nobody has ever accused her of much worse than failing to say ‘hello’ or refusing to make small talk. The Ellen Show’s “toxic” culture is in another league of misconduct, and seems to be a problem with management.
Three of the show’s executive producers — Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner — have promised to “do better.” They told Buzzfeed, “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.”
WarnerMedia has so far declined to comment.