In a statement on behalf of WB and DeGeneres, the studio confirmed that it has conducted an internal inquiry, interviewing current and former Ellen employees about their experience following a recent BuzzFeed report alleging a toxic work culture on the show.
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“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,” the statement said. “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. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”
As the statement notes, multiple staffing changes are expected. Ed Glavin, one of the show’s three executive producers who was singled out in multiple complaints featured in the BuzzFeed report, will likely be among those leaving, I hear.
In a letter to her crew, first published by THR, DeGeneres apologized. “Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show,” she wrote.
While suggesting that she was not personally involved in the decisions and incidents on the show that have drawn criticism (“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”), DeGeneres said that “my name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that.” She also vowed to make changes.
“I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again,” she wrote.
Her apology was met with mixed reaction. “Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow,” Brad Garrett wrote on Twitter. “Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge.”
The BuzzFeed report alleged a toxic work culture on Ellen based on anonymous testimonials by one current and 10 former employees, according to the publication, who said they faced racism, bullying and intimidation. It was the latest in a string of negative stories about the show and host Ellen DeGeneres published over the past six months.
The BuzzFeed investigation detailed incidents in which the staffers said they were sidelined, disciplined or fired for speaking up about discrimination, taking a mental health leave or attending family funerals, among other things. The allegations ranged from racist microagressions, to jokes about mistaking two Black female employees with the same hairstyle. One former employee said she left her job after she was called into a meeting with executive producer Ed Glavin, where she was reprimanded for her objections to the term “spirit animal,” asking for a raise, and suggesting employees on the show receive diversity and inclusion training. The employee said Glavin told her she “was walking around looking resentful and angry.”
Glavin and fellow executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner at the time issued a statement.
“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,” they said.
Shortly after DeGeneres email Warner Bros.’ statement were made public, BuzzFeed published another expose, in which three dozen former Ellen employees made more misconduct allegations against Glavin as well as other senior producers on the show, including claims of groping and kissing, soliciting oral sex from staffers and being “handsy with women.”
Warner Bros.’ statement:
Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres take the recent allegations around the show’s workplace culture very seriously. We 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. As a result, WarnerMedia interviewed dozens of current and former employees about the environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. 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. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.
DeGeneres’ email to staff:
Subject: From Ellen
Hey everybody – it’s Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.
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. 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.
I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.
It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.
I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.
Stay safe and healthy.
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