2020 is proving to be a very difficult year for Ellen Degeneres in a professional capacity. Following a growing outcry against the talk show host for less-than-kind behavior towards her staff, Variety now reports that her show has become the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia following numerous accounts of workplace problems.
According to the report, executives from the producers of the show Telepictures as well as its distributor Warner Bros. Television had issued a memo to staffers last week informing them that WarnerMedia's employee relations group and a third party firm will be interviewing current and former staffers about their experiences on set.
While the details of the memo have not been commented on by representatives of The Ellen Degeneres Show, the timing of the investigation leaves little room for doubt. The trouble began at the start of the global lockdown when it transpired that the show had hired an outside, non-union tech company to film fresh episodes of the 'at home' version of the show, while only keeping on four members of the show's original team of technicians, while the rest of the team, many of whom had been working on the program for seventeen years, were warned of a drastic reduction in pay for the duration of the lockdown.
The news was seen by many as Degeneres shortchanging her staff for personal profit, particularly as reports were going around of other talk shows, from Jimmy Kimmel Live! to Last Weekend with John Oliver, paying their staff full rates, with the money sometimes coming out of the host's own pockets.
As outrage over the controversy surrounding The Ellen Degeneres Show grew, a Twitter thread was started chronicling unpleasant experiences that staff and guests on the show said they have had. The thread quickly filled up with accusations against Degeneres in particular, which ranged from active unkindness to allowing the show's executive producers to turn the production's professional environment 'toxic'. The incident even led producers Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner and Mary Connelly to address the allegations in a joint statement.
"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."
Even as the noise surrounding the behavior of Degeneres and her show's producers has been gathering strength on social media, the talk show host herself has not directly addressed the claims so far. A Warner Bros. spokesperson had acknowledged previously that their had been poor communication with staff regarding their pay while blaming the chaos caused by the lockdown for the same. It remains to be seen how this fresh investigation will affect the future of the show moving forward. This news was first reported at Variety.