Ellen DeGeneres Show producers leave amid bullying accusations

Three top producers on the US television program The Ellen DeGeneres Show will not return to work after an internal investigation into complaints of bullying, racism and sexual misconduct against them.

Key points:

  • The departures followed weeks of turmoil backstage
  • DeGeneres reportedly spoke with staff on Monday
  • She is said to have apologised to anyone who felt they were bullied while working on her show

A spokesperson for Warner Bros Television, which produces the show, made the announcement on Monday local time.

Entertainment news producer Variety reported the three producers leaving were executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.

The departures followed weeks of turmoil backstage.

Reports of a hostile workplace have included criticism that host DeGeneres is mean-spirited.

They prompted both a social media campaign calling for DeGeneres to be replaced as well as public statements of support for the comedian from the likes of Katy Perry, Kevin Hart, Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher.

Hostile work environment allegations started in July

On Monday, DeGeneres reportedly spoke to the staff of her show in what Variety said was an emotional and apologetic address.

Variety cited multiple sources as saying that DeGeneres told staff she was “not perfect” and that it was “heartbreaking” to read allegations about the atmosphere on the set.

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The accusations of a hostile working environment at the daytime talk show were first made by former staff members in a BuzzFeed article in July.

A memo from DeGeneres and the probe by the studio’s parent company followed the BuzzFeed News report in which one current and 10 former show employees complained about issues including being fired after taking medical or bereavement leave.

One worker said she left because of comments about her race.

Most of the complaints were tied to executive producers and senior managers, BuzzFeed News said, but one ex-employee said DeGeneres needed to take more responsibility for the work environment.

The people making the allegations have not been identified.

Warner Bros responded by saying it was investigating and that several staffing changes were being implemented.

‘Obviously something changed’: DeGeneres

Following the accusations, DeGeneres wrote in a memo that she had “deep compassion” for people who were treated unfairly or disregarded.

She said she had struggled with being judged for “who I am” and paid a price for being openly gay.

“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,” she said in the email.

US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneresUS President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneresDeGeneres has been a popular figure in the US, with former president Barack Obama presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.(Reuters: Carlos Barria)

“It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice,” DeGeneres said, adding that she would push herself and others to “learn and grow”.

“Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.”

DeGeneres has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

ABC/wires

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