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Executives behind The Ellen DeGeneres Show were aware of toxic workplace allegations, two years before a string of troubling reports highlighted a problematic environment on and off set.
According to Buzzfeed News, a complaint was filed with an industry union in 2018 that alleged gender discrimination, including sexist remarks made by top producers. The new report comes days after Ellen DeGeneres apologised to her staff, explaining it was “heartbreaking” to recently read about the accusations.
Warner Bros., the show’s distributor, confirmed to Buzzfeed News a complaint was filed in 2018, but noted that “there is nothing new or noteworthy about this issue.”
“It was investigated by an outside investigator and resolved with no merit to claims of gender discrimination,” a spokesperson said. “As previously stated, we are committed to changing the things that need to change and moving forward in a constructive and positive way.”
DeGeneres’s namesake show is the subject of an internal investigation after Variety and Buzzfeed News published multiple reports accusing senior staff of fostering an environment of intimidation, fear, racial insensitivity and sexual misconduct. The investigation is nearing its conclusion, but there’s already been a shakeup at the top. Executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman were fired earlier this month.
Two current and 71 former employees spoke to Buzzfeed News about toxicity at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Some former employees feel the current investigation is a “publicity ploy,” per the outlet.
“This should’ve never happened to begin with. It should’ve never gotten to the point where these people were unchecked and had that kind of power,” one former employee alleged. “It starts at the top. It starts with Ellen, it starts with Warner Bros., and the culture they create and the culture they allow.”
Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Warner Bros. for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
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During a video conference call with staff last week, DeGeneres apologised to more than 200 staffers, Variety reports. The Emmy winner said she’s “not perfect,” and that in the effort for the show to run as a “well-oiled machine” sometimes leaders were not as sensitive to “human beings” as they should have been. She apparently tried to boost morale and promised the upcoming 18th season would be “the best season we’ve ever had.”
DeGeneres told a paparazzo over the weekend she “will be talking” to her fans about the controversy.