By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ellen DeGeneres on Monday opened the new season of her popular television talk show by apologizing to staff after reports of a toxic work environment on her set and saying changes had been made to start "a new chapter."
Three top producers on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" exited the show, producer Warner Bros. said in August after an internal investigation into complaints of bullying, racism and sexual misconduct against them.
"I learned that things happen here that never should have happened," DeGeneres, 62, said in the opening monologue for the premiere of her show's 18th season. "I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."
"We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter," she added.
Over the summer, weeks of backstage turmoil undermined the show’s public message of spreading kindness and happiness.
Reports of a hostile workplace have included criticism that DeGeneres is mean-spirited. These prompted a social media campaign calling for her replacement and public statements of support for the comedian from the likes of Katy Perry, Kevin Hart, Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher.
DeGeneres, who is gay, joked that she was a good actress because she has played straight women. "But I don't think that I'm that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you," she said of her reputation for kindness.
"I am that person that you see on TV," she said. "I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress."
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Jonathan Oatis)