For years, Ellen DeGeneres and her hit daytime show were hailed as the pinnacle of talk-shows. With a DJ set onstage and an audience that seemed punctuate every sentence uttered by the star with a “WHOOOP!” the show enjoyed an incredibly successful run that saw it interview Hollywood’s biggest stars, including the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Robert Pattinson and countless others. Onstage, Ellen radiated positivity, good vibes, and joy, weaving her way in-between the crowd during segments as she danced and shared the love.
But just when we thought we’d seen it all in 2020, allegations against Ellen began to gain traction in the media and slowly but surely, audiences were unable to look away from what appeared to be a toxic workplace broadcast to the mainstream. Accusations from past employees, guests and even celebrities appearing on the show accused Ellen of bullying, something the talk-show host adamantly denies.
In the wake of these allegations, Ellen has now pulled the plug on the hit show as it’s been announced Ellen will be cancelled after 18 years and 3,000 episodes. The talk show will end in 2022 after its 19th season, following a ratings plummet after the coronavirus pandemic and allegations that came forward during this time.
Though it certainly seems like the accusations could have influenced the decision, Ellen told The Hollywood Reporter that cancelling the show had been not he cards for several years and was a decision also backed by her wife, Portia. Ellen told the publication, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”
The TV presenter is said to now be turning her focus to landing movie roles, but said she first wants to get more involved in conservation. She added, “A sitcom seems like a walk in the park compared to this, 180 shows a year. I don’t know if that’s really what I want to do next, but movies for sure.”
“If there were a great role, I’d be able to do that, which I’m not able to do now. I’m opening up my campus in Rwanda next year and I want to be more involved with conservation and everything that matters to me as far as the environment and animals,” said Ellen. Here, we breakdown the timeline of allegations against DeGeneres and her producers, the response and the fallout experienced as a result.
Twitter users allege bad experiences, March 20
Accusations first came to light through comedian Kevin T. Porter who posted a threat on Twitter that went viral, encouraging people to share their experiences with DeGenerers or stories about her. According to Porter, DeGeneres is “notoriously one of the meanest people alive.” The thread racked up more than 70,000 likes and saw countless people respond, with one Twitter user saying, “every day [DeGeneres] picks someone different to really hate.” Another alleged DeGeneres tried to get her fired for wearing chipped nail polish while serving her food.
Ellen crew report poor treatment during pandemic, April 16
At the height of the pandemic, the crew members of Ellen alleged that producers left them flailing during the pandemic as they were told nothing “about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month,” according to reports from Variety. The same article alleges crew members were later told they would suffer serious pay reductions.
Backlash to Ellen’s comments on Black Lives Matter, June
DeGeneres sparked a major backlash online when she made comments comparing coronavirus lockdowns to “being in jail.” When her fans and audiences saw that Ellen’s “jail” was a sprawling mansion, the out-of-touch remarks came under fire online as many expressed their disappointment in the star who has the luxury of being able to shelter in a mansion.
Later in June, DeGeneres then made comments about the Black Lives Matter protests which many deemed to be vague and ineffective. Despite vowing to do better, she simply said in a now-deleted Tweet, “For things to change, things must change.”
Ex-staffers speak out, July
BuzzFeed News published two reports in July that indicated the host and her show’s top producers had fostered a toxic workplace. The report suggests the workplace was one of racism, intimidation and fear, and stretches back for years with such rampant behaviour. A Black employee described racist microagressions that resulted in her walking off the job, while others claimed they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals.
Ellen show under investigation, July 27
After the allegations went public, it was announced that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be subject to an internal investigation by WarnerMedia, involving interviews with current and past staffers. Executive producers released a joint statement to BuzzFeed in which they took full responsibility for the show’s daily operations. “For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us,” they said in a statement.
Ellen addresses allegations in staff letter, July 30
Just a few weeks later, Ellen addressed the allegations in a staff letter that was later obtained by Entertainment Weekly. She avoided discussing specific complaints but promised “things will now change.” Despite that, Ellen did not accept the blame and instead seemed to shift a lot of it to those working for her.
“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,” wrote DeGeneres. “Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”
It was also announced that WarnerMedia had found “deficiencies” in how the show was run and would be making several staffing changes.
Ex-staffers accuse Ellen producers of sexual misconduct, July 30
Staffers also alleged incidents of “harassment, sexual misconduct, and assault from top producers” from the Ellen Show. These allegations were denied by those they were lodged at, despite the fact 36 unnamed former employees came forward.
Ellen apologises over Zoom, August 17
In an emotional Zoom meeting, Ellen once again apologised to her staff and told them that the top producers accused of sexual misconduct would be departing the show. DeGeneres also is said to have talked about being introverted and having good days and bad days, which caused her to keep to herself at times. Staffers were also told that they would be receiving new perks, including paid time off and a generous medical leave policy.
Ellen addresses the allegations, September
When the talk-show returned to air, many expected a grovelling apology from Ellen. In fact, most felt she owed it to her accusers. Instead, Ellen opened with a monologue that did little to inspire faith in her redemption. She said, “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 should never have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.” She went on to add, “I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realise that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility at what happens at my show.”
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