Greyson Chance, the young musician who became famous after his YouTube-posted performance of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" went viral in April 2010 and was invited to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, said in a new interview that he felt trauma over the way the host treated him.
"I've never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her," he told Rolling Stone in a story published Thursday, as he released his new album, Palladium.
Through a rep, DeGeneres declined to comment for the Rolling Stone interview or Yahoo Entertainment's story.
Chance, who's now 25, was just 12 when he became the buzz of the internet. DeGeneres called a week later, and he took his first plane ride from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, Calif. where he said that DeGeneres assured him and his mother, Lisa, that they were "going to do this together." The A-list star, who was making a foray into the music business, hooked Chance up with an entire team of people and, most importantly, signed him to her new music label, which was distributed by Interscope Geffen A&M Records.
But Chance told the magazine that DeGeneres "became domineering and way too controlling." For example, she stipulated what he wore, and what he didn't; no leather, since she's a vegan.
"She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, 'This is what you're wearing on the show,'" Chance said. "She was just degrading to people."
In one instance, the performer and his mom both said that she scolded the two of them over the phone, after he had failed to watch the Justin Bieber documentary that she had asked him to see, when he hadn't watched it because he was tired from touring.
Some of Chance's words echo what employees of DeGeneres's former talk show alleged in a July 2020 report from BuzzFeed. They called Ellen a toxic workplace, where fear and intimidation were the norm. DeGeneres apologized on the show afterward.
"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 for the people who were affected," she said. "I know that I'm 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."
Back in 2012, when Ellen was still on the air, Chance's second album bombed and ticket sales declined. He was dropped by the record label and by his team.
That's when he said that DeGeneres "completely abandoned" him and wouldn't even return his calls.
"I couldn't get ahold of her. Couldn't talk to her," Chance said. "Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile. She wouldn't even ask, 'How are you doing? How are you holding up?' It was just like, 'Here's what we're going to talk about. We'll see you on there.'"
But someone from her show contacted him at some point, because he appeared on it after he left the label. (In all, he was on DeGeneres's stage 10 times over the years, twice after 2012, according to IMDb.) When he performed there in 2015, he said the two didn't speak at all backstage. Still, he went back in 2019 to promote a new album, Portraits.
A show source pointed out that Chance hadn't made any complaints at the time.
He said he was unhappy, though, especially on that final visit.
"She came out during soundcheck and she looked at me, hugged me. And she said, 'How have you been?' And that just killed me inside," Chance said, "because I was like, 'What do you mean how have I f***ing been? Where have you been?"
He didn't appreciate her saying during their interview that she was proud of him for having come out as gay since they had last spoken.
"She had nothing to do with that. … [When I came out,] I hadn't spoken to her in years," he said. "That's so messed up, that you're now showing the world as if we're so tight. We're so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person."
Afterward, Chance said that, while he's grateful for what DeGeneres did for him early in his career, he declined offers to be part of Ellen's final season. He knew the move meant less publicity, but he had to make it for his integrity.