Ellen DeGeneres has apologized after multiple bombshell reports revealed staff allegations of racism, fear, intimidation, and sexual harassment at work
Viewers know Ellen DeGeneres and her talk show for the inspiring special guests, the extravagant gifts, and hilariously candid celebrity interviews. Behind the scenes, though, it seems like much more sinister things have been going on.
In a number of bombshell reports this week, Buzzfeed has brought to light accusations from dozens of former Ellen show staffers and crew members who allege the “Be Kind” mantra for the show was a mask for rampant racism, sexism, fear, intimidation, and sexual harassment.
“That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told Buzzfeed. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
Employees reported being fired after taking medical or family leave — even being unceremoniously let go after missing work to attend family funerals. One employee said she got so sick of constant comments about her race that she just walked away from the job one day. Many staff members say they were instructed by executives, producers, and other higher ups to never speak to Ellen if they saw her.
“She knows,” one former employee said. “She knows shit goes on, but also she doesn’t want to hear it.”
But some of the most horrifying allegations come from employees who say they were sexually harassed by some of the Ellen show’s top executives, including executive producers Kevin Leman and Ed Glavin. According to Variety, “Almost a dozen former workers said Leman would make sexually explicit comments in the office regularly, frequently toward lower-level and younger employees.” At least five employees told Buzzfeed that Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women” particularly in the control room, and that he used fear and intimidation to run the set and keep women quiet.
Ellen has issued a public apology, and news reports say Glavin has been fired.
“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,” Ellen wrote in her apology. “I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that.”
Warner Bros., the studio that distributes the show, also issued a statement.
“We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. Warner Bros. and Ellen DeGeneres are all committed to ensuring a workplace based on respect and inclusion. We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show,” it said.