"If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on."
It is a show that has many across the world laughing till their bellies hurt, and fans always wait till the end to hear Ellen DeGeneres signing off with, "Be kind to one another."
The famous The Ellen DeGeneres Show is now being scrutinized and an internal investigation by WarnerMedia is being conducted after complaints about the workplace came out, according to Variety.
Employees who work on the show were sent a memo by executives from the show's producer, Telepictures and its distributor Warner Bros. Television. The staff was informed that they had connected with WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm and that they would be conducting interviews with the employees. Both existing, as well as former employees, would be interviewed to understand the environment on set and how they were treated,
Over the past few months, allegations about a toxic work culture on the show have come to the spotlight with complaints that all the negativity is being masked behind the famous host's motto, "be kind."
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has become the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia following numerous accounts of workplace problems on the long-running daytime series https://t.co/kA5ulLdxo9— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 27, 2020
Merchandise on the "be kind" sentiment has been widely sold, and Ellen DeGeneres has made large donations to charities and to individuals as well. However, former employees claim that it is all a farce. "That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show," an ex-employee told BuzzFeed News. "I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show."
Although the show has DeGeneres's name in it, the entire show is certainly not in her hands. The top-level management and executive producers have significant control over how the show and the workplace runs. When BuzzFeed News got in touch with some of the former employees, they were told that some employees were ordered not to speak to DeGeneres and others even stormed out of set after getting fed up with comments about their race. Some ex-employees also revealed that they were thrown out of their jobs just because they took a medical leave or because they took a day off to attend funerals of their loved ones.
While the employees said that it was the senior managers and executive producers who were mostly responsible for the hostile work environment, one believed that DeGeneres also has a responsibility towards the show as well as her employees.
"If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on," one ex-employee said. "I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, 'Things are going great, everybody's happy,' and she just believes that, but it's her responsibility to go beyond that."
According to The Guardian, DeGeneres once said on her show while talking about her friendship with George W Bush, "When I say, 'Be kind to one another,' I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter." However, Rumours about DeGeneres not particularly being "kind" also started coming out.
A) She has a "sensitive nose" so everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) March 20, 2020
In April, when fears about the pandemic had just crept into the country, reports also came out about how the core stage crew for the show were left anxious about their jobs and pay, according to Variety. Over 30 employees reportedly did not receive any written communication about what was going to happen to their pay and their work hours. Those in high positions of the production team also reportedly wouldn't pick up most of the calls and even if they did, they wouldn't give out too many details.
As reports about the investigation into the show came out, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner told BuzzFeed News in a joint statement that they were taking the employees' complaints "very seriously."
#TheEllenDeGeneresShow ‘under internal investigation’ after a series of toxic work culture accusations?@TheEllenShow #TheEllenDeGeneresShow @ellenshowtops @WarnerMedia #Telepictures https://t.co/P5FOwzEVFR— PeepingMoon (@PeepingMoon) July 28, 2020
"Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment," the statement said. "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."