WarnerMedia is launching an internal investigation of The Ellen DeGeneres Show after numerous accounts of toxicity in the workplace from former employees, Variety reports.
Last week, staffers received a memo from WarnerMedia and Telepictures, the series’ production company, stating that employee relations and a third-party firm would be interviewing current and former workers about their experience on set. The memo comes after repeated allegations of hostility on the set of the long-running chatfest, including anecdotes from DeGeneres’ former bodyguard—who told Fox News working for the 62-year-old talk-show host was “demeaning”—and celebrity guests.
‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ Workplace Under Investigation by WarnerMedia (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/knklNFjFgk
— Variety (@Variety) July 27, 2020
A particularly damning exposé from Buzzfeed News, which ran earlier this month, detailed a workplace culture full of fear, intimidation, and racism toward Black employees.
“Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff,” one former employee, who spoke to Buzzfeed News on the condition of anonymity, told the outlet. “He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ’I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bullshit.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed News, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner apologized to the employees quoted and said they take the allegations “very seriously”:
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.
The negative press got so bad, rumors of The Ellen Show’s cancellation began to circulate. Those reports were denied by reps from Telepictures, who told The New York Post that any talk of cancellation was “untrue.”
DeGeneres, of course, has long been lauded as a pioneer for LGBTQ representation on television. In 1997, she came out to the world as a lesbian in the now-famous “Puppy Episode” of her eponymous ’90s sitcom. She’s gone on to win a slew of awards for her TV work, including 61 Daytime Emmys for The Ellen Show.