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Ellen DeGeneres panned for joke-filled monologue about toxic work environment allegations

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Ellen DeGeneres is facing renewed criticism after she issued an apology in response to allegations of a toxic work environment on her show that was seen by some as disingenuous, half-hearted and tone deaf.  

DeGeneres launched the new season of her daytime talk show on Monday with a joke-filled monologue where she apologized for ‘ever hurting’ anyone, took responsibility for claims of misconduct on her set and admitted to being impatient – but insisted she was the person she appears to be on TV and not a behind-the-scenes villain.  

Several current and former employees reacted to the monologue in interviews with Buzzfeed News, saying that they felt like DeGeneres’ jokes were inappropriate given the severity of their experiences on the show.  

‘Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her,’ one former employee told the outlet.  

‘When she said: “Oh my summer was great” and that was supposed to be funny, I thought: “It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?”‘ another said. 

One current employee said they were glad that DeGeneres addressed the controversy directly, but felt that it was an insincere PR move to win back viewers.  

Ellen DeGeneres is facing renewed criticism after she issued an apology in response to allegations of a toxic work environment on her show that was seen by some as disingenuous, half-hearted and tone deaf. The daytime talk show host is seen delivering her monologue at the start of the first episode of Season 18, which aired Monday 

The Ellen Show was thrown into turmoil this summer after allegations emerged that DeGeneres treated staffers with little or no respect and that senior producers allowed and encouraged a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual harassment and misconduct. 

Three producers were fired and there were questions of whether or not it would return to the air. 

DeGeneres opened the first pre-taped episode of season 18 on Monday afternoon with her monologue addressing the controversy.   

She was neither unrepentant nor deeply apologetic, saying that she had ‘learned’ of things at the show that needed to be changed but squeezing in some jokes about her impatience.  

‘How was everybody’s summer? Good, yeah? Mine was great. Super terrific,’ the host said sarcastically.  

THE CLAIMS AGAINST ELLEN

APRIL: Ellen staffers’ complain about how they’ve been treated during the pandemic in a Variety report which said producers left them ‘high and dry’

JULY 16: BuzzFeed article alleging toxic environment including claims that; 

  • staff were fired for taking leave, including for bereavement 
  • racism caused one employee to walk out of the job on the spot
  • two black female employees were told by a boss, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” 
  • staff told not to speak to Ellen if they saw her on-set

JULY 31: Second BuzzFeed article alleging more misconduct, this time of a sexual nature 

AUGUST: Executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman are all fired

SEPTEMBER: Former household staff speak out, saying Ellen treated them ‘like nothing’ and lay traps like matchsticks to make sure they were dusting ‘every inch’ of her home 

Shifting to a more serious note, she told the audience of virtual viewers: ‘You may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation. 

‘I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. 

‘I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. 

Later, she went on: ‘There were also articles in the press and on social media that said I am not who I appear to be on TV because I became known as the be kind lady and here’s how that happened. 

‘I started saying be kind to one another after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that.

‘I think we need it more than ever right now. Being known as the be kind lady is a tricky position to be in. 

‘Let me give you some advice out there, if anybody is thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the ‘be kind lady’. Don’t do it. 

‘The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. 

‘I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress. 

‘And I am especially working on the impatience thing. And it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough I will tell you that. 

‘Listen, I don’t know. I’m a talk show host but maybe some of you know that I was an actress. 

‘I’ve played a straight woman in movies so I’m a pretty good actress but I don’t think that I’m that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you.’

DeGeneres then announced that she had promoted Stephen Laurel ‘tWitch’ Boss to become her executive co-producer.  

She also said she’d come to learn she had ‘great power and privilege’ as a boss of more than 200 people. 

‘I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. 

‘This is the Ellen DeGeneres show, I am Ellen DeGeneres, my name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear… we have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about our show, our workplace and what we want for the future,’ she said, before vowing to make it the ‘best season’ the show had ever had. 

‘I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good. 

‘That’s my favorite thing to do. That and Jenga. I love that game. And now I am a boss of 270 people. 270 people who help make this show what it is. 270 people who I am so grateful for. 

‘All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and be proud to work here,’ she said. 

The monologue was met with mixed reactions from fans – with some saying it missed the mark and others finding it genuine and sincere. 

But among current and former employees, it received mostly negative reviews.   

DeGeneres delivered her monologue to a virtual audience due to the coronavirus pandemic

The monologue was met with mixed reactions from fans – with some saying it missed the mark and others finding it genuine and sincere

The aforementioned current Ellen Show employee told Buzzfeed that they believe the monologue was merely a ploy to increase ratings for the new season.  

‘It’s always tactical,’ the employee said. ‘The average person will listen to it and make their own choices, but what people don’t always take into account is that information is power, and she’s sharing it now because it’s for premiere week and it’s to get viewers back, and that just feels the opposite of what this message is about.’ 

But the employee said they were shocked that DeGeneres brought the allegations of misconduct into the open after they were kept a secret for so long.  

‘It’s kind of amazing that this is being discussed on her show,’ they said. 

‘To actually go from an environment where nothing is said and everyone keeps their head down, to now when it’s the topic of her first show back is pretty amazing.

‘Whether or not I believe in this message that she is saying is another issue.’

One of the former employees highlighted the fact that DeGeneres didn’t sign off with her ‘be kind’ motto, and said that she was ‘deflecting’ from taking responsibility for the fact that the phrase didn’t match what happened behind the scenes of the show. 

‘I don’t feel sorry that she’s in a s**t load of trouble because she branded herself the “be kind” person,’ they said. 

‘She’s acting like it was something she said in passing that just stuck with her. It’s not something that stuck with her, it’s not an accident. She went forward with this idea and this marketing strategy that was not true behind the scenes.’ 

‘There’s nothing wrong with being the “be kind lady” if you’re actually true to your word,’ they added.

Another former employee who was part of WarnerMedia’s investigation into the misconduct claims said they were frustrated that the apology was made on the show instead of directly to staff.  

‘The right thing would be to follow up with these people who are humans who were affected by this,’ they said. ‘They have a responsibility to kind of close this chapter of our lives and move on.’

They said they wished someone at WarnerMedia had reached out and ‘said something like: “We’re so sorry this happened to you,” not for Ellen to go on air and say: “I heard this happened and I’m sorry if it happened to you.”‘

They said of the investigation: ‘It was like: “Tell us all of the most f**ked up things that happened to you for the investigation, and now that we’ve written it all down, see you later.”

‘It just feels like there’s no ending to this for people who came forward and said things that happened to them and reopened these wounds and rehashed these memories.’

DeGeneres announced that she had promoted Stephen Laurel ‘tWitch’ Boss to become her executive co-producer

Pictured left to right top producers on the show Andy Lassner, Jonathan Norman, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman at the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2017. Glavin, Leman and Norman have all been ousted from the popular talk show

Among the allegations against DeGeneres ran a workplace which fostered racism, sexual misconduct and bullying. 

She apologized to staff privately in a conference call, reports claimed. 

A wave of stars came to her defense. Among them was Kevin Hart who faced his own controversy last year when homophobic tweets he’d posted in the past resurfaced and cost him his Oscars hosting job. 

The controversy was first sparked by a Buzzfeed expose into the show in June which  revealed claims made by one current and 10 former employees of Ellen’s talk show saying they experienced racism, fear and intimidation while working on the long-running series and accusing producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Ed Glavin of bullying.

The show then faced additional accusations about sexual misconduct in a second BuzzFeed News article on July 30, in which dozens of men and women accused Kevin Leman, Glavin and Norman of sexual harassment, misconduct or assault.

Leman and Norman denied the claims. They and Glavin were promptly suspended while Warner Bros launched an investigation.

They both were fired along with Leman. His attorney said at the time that he was being made a scapegoat. 

‘The fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man — a popular figure and a creative force behind the Ellen show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen – is shocking. 

‘Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment,’ the attorney said. 

DeGeneres herself was accused of taking joy in making staffers cry and behaving like such a diva that employees were told not to speak to her, look at her or even stay in a room if she entered it.

ELLEN’S FULL MONOLOGUE 

Oh boy welcome to season 18 of the Ellen DeGeneres show. If you’re watching because you love me, thank you, if you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome! 

How was everybody’s summer? Good? Mine was great. Super terrific. I am so happy to be back in the studio. There are a lot of things I want to talk about. I’ve been looking forward to addressing it all directly and unfortunately talking directly to people has been illegal for six months so I a virtual audience here instead, here you all are. You look beautiful and I am sure you smell great, that’s what I am imagining anyway. 

All right, let’s get to it. As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation. 

I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. 

This is the Ellen DeGeneres show, I am Ellen DeGeneres, my name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear… we have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about our show, our workplace and what we want for the future. 

We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter. There were also articles in the press and on social media that said I am not who I appear to be on TV because I became known as the be kind lady and here’s how that happened. 

I started saying be kind to one another after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that.

I think we need it more than ever right now. Being known as the be kind lady is a tricky position to be in. Let me give you some advice out there, if anybody is thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the ‘be kind lady’. Don’t do it. 

The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress. And I am especially working on the impatience thing. And it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough I will tell you that. 

Listen, I don’t know. I’m a talk show host but maybe some of you know that I was an actress. I’ve played a straight woman in movies so I’m a pretty good actress but I don’t think that I’m that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. 

This is me and my intention is to always be the best person I can be. If I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that’s ever the case I have let myself down and I’ve hurt myself as well because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn. I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good. 

That’s my favorite thing to do. That and Jenga. I love that game. And now I am a boss of 270 people. 270 people who help make this show what it is. 270 people who I am so grateful for. All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and be proud to work here. 

This has been a horrible summer for people all around the world. People are losing their jobs. People are losing loved ones to a pandemic. People are losing their homes and lives in the raging fires that are going on. There’s blatant racial injustice all around us. I watch the news and I feel like, where do we even begin? 

So my hope is that we can still be a place of happiness and joy. I still want to be the one hour a day where people can go to escape and laugh. I want to continue to help the people that we help every day. And I am committed to making this the best season that we have ever had. 

So welcome to season 18 of the Ellen Show. I am so glad that you are here. I want to start the new season by saying hello to my friend Twitch . 

‘You are not my DJ any more. You are now my co-executive producer. You are such an important part of the show. Unfortunately I had to take the fake DJ equipment away.’

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