Ellen DeGeneres has spoken of her “love” for her crew as she returned to television amid accusations that she is “mean” off-camera.
The US talk show host has been self-isolating at home since coronavirus led to a total shutdown of film and television production. She has now returned to air, however, with episodes filmed entirely in her living room.
“I wanted to start doing my new show as soon as possible because it’s really for people who are stuck at home,” she said during her first episode back, which broadcast today (6 April).
“Especially my staff and crew. I love them. I miss them and the best way I can support them is to keep the show on the air.”
While DeGeneres was off-air, she was at the centre of a viral scandal, in which a comedian promised to donate $2 to a Los Angeles food bank in exchange for every “insane story” his followers tweeted him about DeGeneres.
He branded the TV personality “notoriously one of the meanest people alive”.
A number of unverified stories soon poured in, with apparent former employees of The Ellen Show, as well as Los Angeles residents, sharing alleged encounters with the star.
Comedian Kevin T Porter, the man responsible for the campaign, ended up donating $600 in total.
A representative for DeGeneres and The Ellen Show failed to comment on the thread when contacted by The Independent. In 2018, however, DeGeneres was asked by the New York Times about tabloid stories accusing her of being unpleasant to the staff on her show, and denied them. “It’s an outright lie,” she said.
DeGeneres has not directly spoken on the Twitter thread herself, but did potentially nod to the scandal in an Instagram message in which she addressed her former crew members.
“I’ve asked them all to continue to stay home with their loved ones and disconnect for a week,” DeGeneres said. “And I wish I hadn’t. I miss them.”
In her first show back, DeGeneres spoke to guests Chrissy Teigen and John Legend via webcam. She also joked in the episode that staying self-isolated at home with wife Portia de Rossi was comparable to “prison”.
DeGeneres said: “It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay.”