Will Ellen DeGeneres be taken off air?

Host faces an uncertain future following ‘toxic’ bullying probe into the show

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

by Charlotte Oliver |

For 17 years now, she’s been the queen of daytime TV, winning legions of fans with her eponymous chat show and celebrity BFFs. But last week, it looked like Ellen DeGeneres’ career was in freefall after WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation into claims of bullying, racism and intimidation on her set.

The inquiry was launched when a number of current and former employees made complaints against executive producers and managerial staff. And while all accusations were levied against the show rather than Ellen herself, rumours that the actress is “mean” and “cold” behind the scenes have simultaneously gathered momentum. According to insiders, whispers about a hostile environment became too loud for WarnerMedia – which distributes The Ellen Show – to ignore.

Ellen DeGeneres

The uproar surrounding the programme first started earlier this year, when comedian Kevin T Porter tweeted a call to arms, asking people to recount “insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen”, who he dubbed “notoriously one of the meanest people alive”. The thread went viral, with former staff members coming forward with alleged incidents of her being “demanding” and “distant”, such as the time she apparently screamed at someone for looking her in the eye, or sent another employee home to shower after they had eaten fish.

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But while anecdotes such as these have surrounded Ellen for years, it was only after a number of current and former employees filed official complaints against the show that WarnerMedia really took notice. Last month, ten anonymous staff members spoke out about the “toxic work environment” behind the scenes at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, alleging that executive producers and senior managers had bullied workers.

All complaints were made against senior staff, but insiders said that Ellen has been criticised for not acknowledging – or maybe not even being aware of – the “racism, fear and intimidation” that was happening behind the scenes.

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According to reports, some aggrieved staff said they had been fired for taking medical leave or personal days to attend family funerals, while others said they were told not to speak to Ellen if they saw her. Among the many “racist microaggressions” that were reported, one former employee, who is black, said that a senior producer had told her and another black employee, “Oh, wow, you both have box braids. I hope we don’t get you confused.”

Following news of the inquiry, Ellen sent an emotional apology to staff, telling them, “On day one of our show, I told everyone that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness [where] everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed. For that, I’m sorry.” She added, “I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.” Whether the programme will survive the backlash remains to be seen.

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