Pretty much everyone can agree that 2020 has not been Ellen DeGeneres’ year. Honestly, this year hasn’t been great for anyone, but DeGeneres in particular has faced a deluge of bad press regarding the treatment of the staff on her hit daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Though DeGeneres has, until this point, enjoyed her reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities, recent events have caused some fans to reconsider that title.
A series of scandals kicked off DeGeneres’ very bad, no good year, and almost every one of scandals dealt with the treatment of The Ellen Show staff. The rumors about DeGeneres’ sour-not-sweet demeanor began in earnest in March after a Twitter thread went viral when a podcaster called for people to share stories about DeGeneres being mean.
Though some responses were clearly fictional, including one about how DeGeneres once pushed a waiter’s head into boiling hot soup for bumping into her at a restaurant, other claims seemed much more realistic. These responses talked about the atmosphere behind the scenes of the show and included testimonials from both former workers and people who knew former workers.
Of course, being a “former” employee of DeGenres’ might indicate that there’s a bit of a bias, but the overall message matched what other outlets later reported. The thread largely implied that DeGeneres was disconnected from her staff to the point where low-level employees were supposedly discouraged from even speaking with the comedian.
A month later, several members of The Ellen Show crew spoke with Variety about what they considered unfair treatment. The coronavirus pandemic was still in its early days and most ongoing production projects were put on hold as the nation grappled with this new thread. During that forced hiatus, members of the crew complained that their pay was cut since there was no way for them to get back to work safely.
There was also a lack of clear communication about those pay cuts and subsequent production decisions made by the higher-ups. The tensions came to a head after a third-party, non-union crew was hired to film DeGeneres' show in her home. Many felt this was a betrayal of the crew, some of whom had worked on the show for years. Now they felt as if they were being replaced.
Soon after, in May, a former bodyguard for Ellen DeGeneres came forward about his experience with the talk show host. Tom Majercak was selected to be DeGeneres’ security escort during the 2014 Oscars. He revealed in an interview with Fox News that “Ellen is the one person that I've been assigned to -- and I've been assigned to quite a few celebrities -- that has never taken the time to say hi to me.”
Majercak went on to explain that he also escorted DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, and the comedian’s mother, both of whom were perfectly friendly to him. “It's bugged me for years,” Majercak explained. “I see this person come across as being very enlightened and positive and awesome and everybody loves her and is in awe and that's really not the case when you meet her in person.” The hits continued to come for DeGeneres as the spring turned to summer.
Two bombshell reports out of Buzzfeed held the most damning allegations for the talk show host yet. The first article detailed the complaints of former employees who alleged that The Ellen Show had a secretly toxic work environment, which directly contradicted the impression some held that the show was as warm and fuzzy behind the scenes as it seemed.
The former employees explained that they were fired for taking bereavement time for funerals or sick time. One employee even walked off the job after getting sick and tired of comments about her race. Although these former employees said that most of the blame rested with the show’s executive producers and other senior managers for the unwelcoming environment, Ellen DeGeneres was not totally free of the blame. She wasn’t necessarily the one perpetrating the toxicity, but since it’s her name on the show, she bears some of the responsibility for the atmosphere behind the scenes.
Two weeks after the initial article, a second article was released detailing accounts from former employees who alleged that the show was rife with sexual misconduct. Some of these workers made a clear distinction between the people involved in this misconduct, which included executive producers and senior management, and Ellen DeGeneres herself. These people explained that it was likely that this sort of behavior was purposefully kept from DeGeneres in an attempt to inoculate her from the behavior. “Everyone acted really differently around her,” one former employee revealed. “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.”
Other former employees weren’t so forgiving towards the talk show host, and questioned whether or not she was really as clueless about the inappropriate behavior as her open memo to her staff insisted. Since the people specifically named in the sexual misconduct allegations are fairly high-level employees who DeGeneres usually works closely with, it seemed to these people that it was improbable that the comedian didn’t hear any of the rumors surrounding them.
“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,” another former employee said, adding, “Unless she really is just in this bubble.” As a result of these various accusations, Warner Bros. has begun an internal investigation of the show that has already resulted in the termination of one employee accused of the nastiest sexual misconduct claims.
In the meantime, DeGeneres has pledged to personally do better by her staff and to make sure that there is meaningful change done behind the scenes to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment. In the opening of the statement, DeGeneres wrote, “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect.”
Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.
“And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.” It does honestly seem like now that she’s fully aware of the situation, Ellen DeGeneres is determined to make things right for her staff. That doesn’t stop the tabloids from speculating about her future in the industry, however.
In 2020 alone, Gossip Cop has debunked a number of tabloid articles predicting the talk show hosts next moves. Most outlets obviously believed that this recent spell of bad press would mark the end of The Ellen Show as we know it. Some articles predicted that DeGeneres would simply quit her talk show as a result of the rumors about her being “mean.” We found that rumor to be completely unfounded.
Other outlets reported that DeGeneres would hold out until her contract ends in 2022. At that point, these shady publications insisted, DeGeneres would hang up her hat and leave the daytime talk show for good. Two years is a very long time, which these tabloids are aware of and depend on. Just about anything could happen over that period of time to convince DeGeneres to either stay or leave. The outlets that reported this rumor were likely fully aware that things can change in a year, let alone two, and were depending on that fact in order to push their false narrative.
One tabloid, In Touch, recently claimed that DeGeneres was being “abandoned by her Hollywood pals. A suspicious source informed the outlet, “Ellen isn’t getting the support from Hollywood that she expected. The silence is deafening.” Of course that wasn’t the case, and Gossip Cop pointed out that multiple celebrities, including Kevin Hart, Katy Perry, and Ashton Kutcher, had publicly come to DeGeneres’ defense. Clearly DeGeneres wasn’t lacking in support.
There have also been innumerable reports that DeGeneres will be replaced. Many of these reports come from before the series of scandals that hit DeGeneres this year, proving that this was a popular topic for tabloids from the beginning. Since the scandals have been reported, the idea of replacing DeGeneres has gained some steam. OK! reported this summer that The Good Place actress Kristen Bell was a “favorite” to replace Ellen DeGeneres. “Kristen has been quietly honing her hosting skills. Even better for Warner Bros., everyone in Hollywood loves Kristin [sic],” the outlet’s anonymous source revealed. “They have been grooming her as the replacement. She is definitely in front of James Corden. They want a woman and no one is funnier or more relatable than Kristen.”
This rumor is just that, a rumor. Several reputable sources reported that The Ellen Show would be going into its 18th Season as normal, and that DeGeneres would be returning to her titular show. Despite the naysayers both online and in the print media, DeGeneres will be moving forward and onward with her show.