Ellen DeGeneres, the embattled American daytime talk show host, dotted the studio audience with her own staffers to prevent fans from getting “too close” to her.
A former employee told The Sun newspaper that crew would remove their work IDs so they could be tucked between DeGeneres and the public when she said hello to them at the “Riff-Raff Room”, they alleged.
The ex-assistant claimed that crew felt compelled to turn their backs to the 62-year-old in the corridor – a rumour that DeGeneres has sought to rebuke.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show was ‘never a kind place’, claims ex-staffer.
“It was never a ‘kind’ place,” the staffer alleged.
“Ellen’s ‘be kind’ philosophy was never mentioned to us when we were working.
“I’m speaking out because I’m worried the people who enabled that ‘toxic environment’ to happen have got away with it and they’re still working there.”
Studio seats were routinely over-booked, they claimed, and complaints sent by audience members “just got deleted”.
While in the alleged “Riff-Raff Room”, “the audience members who don’t get a seat for whatever reason were taken to the Riff-Raff Room where they could watch the show on monitors.
“Ellen would regularly go to say a quick ‘hi’ but what fans didn’t know is staffers took off their IDs and pretended to be audience members, then got in-between Ellen and genuine audience members so she didn’t have to get close to her fans.
“I never knew why that was, I can only guess it was so she kept her own space.”
The staffer said that the audience for The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be judged by their looks. People deemed better looking, they said, would be placed to the front so they would appear more on-camera.
Behind the scenes, and the corridors bristled with tension, they alleged. “I was with a colleague who had worked there longer than me. At this point, I hadn’t seen much of Ellen at all.
“We were walking down a corridor chatting, then ahead of us Ellen appeared with a security guard, walking straight towards us.
“The person I was with immediately stopped talking, stopped walking and stood with her back to the wall. I thought, ‘What the hell is going on?’
“At first I honestly thought it was a joke. But I could tell from my colleague’s face it was serious.
“So I followed suit. I shut up and stood with my back to the wall, too.
“Ellen walked past and didn’t even glance at us. We weren’t acknowledged by her in any way. I thought: ‘Ahh, so that’s how it goes around here’.”
Representatives of DeGeneres declined to comment on the allegations.