USA TODAY’s Gary Levin explains why he thinks Ellen DeGeneres will return to her daytime talk show despite allegations of mistreatment from staffers.
A major shake-up is underway at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
After several employees came forward last month with allegations of mistreatment at Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show, three executive producers have been ousted.
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman parted ways with the syndicated talk show Monday following allegations of a toxic workplace environment, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly. Variety first reported the news.
Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Derek Westervelt will continue on the show as executive producers, alongside DeGeneres, who was adamant about “ensuring this does not happen again” in her July 30 apology to her staff.
DeGeneres apologized directly Monday in a videoconference call with more than 200 talk-show staffers, who learned of the staffing change, according to a person who listened to the call but was not authorized to speak publicly. DeGeneres expressed her sorrow for hurting anyone’s feelings, admitted her imperfection and pledged to learn from her mistakes in the call on the first day of production for Season 18, which premieres Sept. 14.
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Ellen DeGeneres’ producers respond to claims that the show is a “toxic environment.” (Photo: GETTY)
DeGeneres went on to say that she cares for everyone working on the show and is grateful for them. DeGeneres did not take questions, due to the size of the group, but committed to meeting with people in smaller groups.
According to Variety, DeGeneres called a rumor that staffers and guests were told not to address her or even look her in the eye if they encountered the host on the set or in show’s the offices “crazy” and “not true.” At the same time, she said she is an “introvert” and apologized to anyone who felt “disregarded,” the publication reported.
The host also announced that Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the show’s DJ, has been promoted to co-executive producer.
In an Aug. 11 interview with US Weekly, Boss spoke indirectly about the situation at the show. “Obviously there’s some things to address, but from my standpoint and from countless others, there’s been love. I’ll just leave it at that until there’s a time where we can address more publicly. There’s been love and there will continue to be love.”
The staffing change comes on the heels of a Warner Bros. investigation after one current and 10 former “Ellen” employees claimed in a July 16 BuzzFeed report that they faced racism, fear and intimidation while working on the show.
Some employees said they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend funerals, while one claimed she dealt with racist comments, actions and micro-aggressions.
In a joint statement to USA TODAY on July 17, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner said they were “truly heartbroken and sorry to learn” about the claims.
“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,” the statement read. “It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.”
In another Buzzfeed report published July 31, Glavin, Leman and Norman were accused of sexual misconduct by former employees, including inappropriate touching, comments, groping and solicitation of sexual acts.
‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ producersrespond to claims of toxic workplace environment
Warner Bros. issued a statement to USA TODAY on July 30 about the investigation, in which dozens of current and former employees were interviewed.
“’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,” the statement said.
The host of the popular, long-running show, which has aired in syndication since 2003, also apologized in a letter to staffers. DeGeneres and the studio are “committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion,” the statement provided by Warner Bros. to USA TODAY read.
During Monday’s videoconference, executive producer Lassner addressed media reports regarding allegations of racism at the show. He said the nearly completed investigation found no evidence of systemic racism or a culture of racism, but that some staff members found jokes and comments made in the past to be insensitive, the person listening to the call said. To that end, training and education programs are being implemented for all of the show’s managers and the show will have a dedicated human resources representative.
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Sara M Moniuszko, Charles Trepany
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