‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ producers accused of sexual misconduct: report
Buzzfeed News, which recently also published a bombshell report regarding a toxic work environment at the show, reported on the alleged sexual misconduct on Thursday, saying they’ve spoken to 36 former employees, with many corroborating stories of improper behavior by producers in the workplace.
Among the people named in the allegations is writer and executive producer Kevin Leman.
According to Buzzfeed News, a former employee of the daytime show accused Leman of soliciting oral sex at a company party in 2013, while another ex-staffer claimed to have seen the exec grab a production assistant’s penis on a different occasion.
‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ has been hit with complaints of a poor work environment, and most recently, sexual misconduct by some of the show’s top producers. (NBC)
Another staff member claimed they saw Leman grope a production assistant and kiss his neck in a car.
Nearly a dozen employees also stated that it was not unusual for Leman to make crude and sexual jokes in the office, often referencing bulges in the crotches of his male colleagues, as well as asking, “Are you a top or a bottom?”
A former employee said: “It’s masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm.”
The testimonials suggested that most of Leman’s alleged targets were younger, lower-level employees.
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that,” said a former staffer.
Leman categorically denied the claims in a statement released to the outlet on Thursday.
“I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense,” he said. “I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”
Additionally, executive producer Ed Glavin, who has been at the heart of the complaints of poor workplace culture, is now facing accusations of sexual misconduct.
The outlet claimed that dozens of employees understood that Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” particularly in the control room, where he would use intimidation to control employees.
From left to right: ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ producers Jonathan Norman, Andy Lassner, Kevin Leman, Ed Glavin and Mary Connelly in 2015. Norman, Leman and Glavin have been accused of sexual misconduct. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
“You could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see,” said one former employee who also accused Glavin of touching her regularly. “Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone … but you didn’t want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear.”
Another employee claimed that Glavin would ask producers and assistants to sit near him during segments they had worked on and he would touch them inappropriately in front of nearly 30 people.
“Even though I was being abused [at work] constantly, Ed putting his arm around you in the control room was like the nicest experience you had all day, as messed up as that sounds,” an accuser said. “But you had been crying last night and now your segment is going well … and then you feel like you got credit for something from the executive producer directly. … That friendly banter accompanied by a friendly hand.”
The outlet reported that 47 former staff members have accused Glavin of using intimidation to run the show, with one explaining that Glavin flipped over a table while screaming when they handed in their resignation.
Additionally, five employees claimed that, “as an intimidation tactic,” Glavin would press a button on his desk to remotely close his office door during reprimands.
“It seemed like a power move, more than anything,” explained one ex-employee.
Glavin has also been accused of “openly showering” in his office’s private bathroom when employees arrived for “important” meetings.
In addition to her show taking heat, DeGeneres has been accused of poor behavior, including by a former bodyguard, who called her “cold.” (Netflix)
Jonathan Norman, a co-executive producer, was also accused by a former staffer of grooming him by taking the staff to concerts and offering other work-related perks before attempting to perform oral sex on him.
Three other employees corroborated the story, saying the accuser told them when it happened and they’ve discussed it in the years since.
Norman also denied the allegations. “I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never ‘groomed’ anyone,” he said via Buzzfeed. “I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”
Additionally, ex-staffers reported that there was no formal procedure to file complaints confidentially and that they were even pressured not to go to the Human Resources department at the show’s parent company, Warner Bros.
“There was no such thing as a confidential conversation,” one stated. “There was no clear direction that if something happens to you, you go to this person, it will remain confidential, and you will not be retaliated against.”
Because the series is “a cash cow,” a former Warner Bros. employee said, the company “turns a blind eye” to the accusations.
Ellen DeGeneres has hosted her show in its current form since 2003. (Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) (Getty)
While DeGeneres has been subject to claims of poor and “cold” behavior herself, multiple ex-staff members said she may not be aware of the sexual misconduct, as executive producers “insulate” the 62-year-old comedian, also citing the small amount of time she spends in the office as a factor in limiting her knowledge of the culture.
“Everyone acted really differently around her,” said an ex-employee. “There’s a show that’s happening behind the show, the show that the executive producers have us all put on for her when she comes to the offices.”
Others, however, believe that DeGeneres must be aware of the behavior, considering the people she spends the most time with are the executive producers.
“For someone who’s so involved in the show and the creative aspect, and having been in those meetings with her, it’s very hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that she doesn’t hear the same whispers,” said a former staffer that once worked closely with the host. “Unless she really is just in this bubble.”
Another former longtime employee said that DeGeneres wants to remain unaware of the goings-on behind-the-scenes, while “nobody wants to rock the boat” by telling her, as she’s the brand behind the show.
David Letterman with host Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in Los Angeles. (Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. via AP)
“She knows,” the former staffer said. “She knows s–t goes on, but also she doesn’t want to hear it.”
Reps for Warner Bros., DeGeneres and the show declined to comment when reached by Fox News, while individual reps for, Leman, Glavin and Norman could not be reached.
On Thursday, DeGeneres sent a letter to her current staff to apologize for the poor work environment fostered at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and made no mention of sexual misconduct.
A statement from Warner Bros. previously obtained by Fox News stated that they “have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues.”
Sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that Glavin is likely to be let go following an investigation brought about by complaints of a toxic work environment.
If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.