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Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has vowed to “take responsibility” for the bad behavior of her top producers, but former members of her staff reportedly don’t believe her.
About two weeks ago, BuzzFeed News published a report documenting the “toxic” work culture that DeGeneres has allegedly fostered.
“Ellen DeGeneres has built her worldwide, multimillion-dollar brand on the motto ‘be kind,’ with lavish giveaways and acts of charity. But behind the scenes, current and former employees on her leading daytime show say they faced racism, fear, and intimidation,” the report read.
These sorts of allegations against the comedian have been growing in recent months.
— Wanda Rufin (@WandaRufin) April 20, 2020
In response, DeGeneres sent a letter to her staff apologizing for the toxicity. A copy of that letter was published Thursday afternoon by The Hollywood Reporter.
“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,” she wrote.
“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 seemed to suggest that she hadn’t been aware of the bad behavior, but that now that she is aware, the proper steps will be taken to remedy it.
Later that same evening, BuzzFeed News published another bombshell report outlining numerous allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against her top producers, as well as quotes from former employees convinced that DeGeneres has been aware of all the bad behavior since day one.
“[F]ormer employees [said] it’s implausible that DeGeneres hasn’t been exposed to the same stories and behavior, particularly when they allegedly involve the senior-level executive producers she spends most of her time with,” BuzzFeed reported.
“For someone who’s so involved in the show and the creative aspect, and having been in those meetings with her, it’s very hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that she doesn’t hear the same whispers. Unless she really is just in this bubble,” one former employee said.
Another longtime former employee claimed DeGeneres “doesn’t want to know” what’s happening behind the scenes and that “nobody wants to rock the boat.”
“She knows. She knows s**t goes on, but also she doesn’t want to hear it,” the employee said.
DeGeneres reportedly has a history of being a “mean,” uncaring person.
Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️
She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive
Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 20, 2020
Former employees of DeGeneres identified at least two gay producers, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman, and one heterosexual producer, Ed Glavin, who sexually harassed them and, in the case of Glavin, applied intimidation and fear on his subordinates.
“One ex-employee said head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman asked him if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. Another said they separately saw Leman grab a production assistant’s penis. In May 2017, another former employee also said she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck,” BuzzFeed reported.
Similarly, Norman allegedly groomed one former employee who was just out of college at the time and then attempted to perform oral sex on him, while Glavin allegedly often engaged in the “creepy touching” of the women.
“You could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see,” one former employee said.
“Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone … but you didn’t want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear.”
Both Leman and Norman have denied the allegations against them, whereas Gavin has reportedly refused to comment.
Warner Bros meanwhile has declined to address any of the new allegations but did issue a blase statement about how it’d launched an investigation after BuzzFeed’s original report.
Warner Bros. is conducting an internal investigation of The Ellen DeGeneres Show following multiple complaints by employees of the show.
Several allegations by current and former staffers of the Television show said that they were subjected to a toxic work environment. pic.twitter.com/bpLZFHw7sG
— Naija (@Naija_PR) July 28, 2020
The company reportedly said it “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.”
“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,” the statement concluded.
However, a former Warner Brothers employee explicitly said to BuzzFeed that the company “turns a blind eye” because “Ellen” “is a cash cow.”
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