Looks like The Ellen DeGeneres Show may not be the fun-filled paradise host Ellen DeGeneres makes it out to be. In addition to staff complaints about their treatment earlier in the year, an official investigation is being held concerning complaints about a toxic work environment (although it bears mentioning that DeGeneres is not under investigation). According to an exclusive report from entertainment industry trade paper Variety:
Executives from show producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. Television sent a memo to staffers last week saying they have engaged WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm, who will interview current and former staffers about their experiences on set, said sources.
The memo comes on the heels of recent unflattering reports about working conditions at the show. In April, Variety reported on the treatment of legacy crew members during the coronavirus lockdown. In mid-July, BuzzFeed published a report alleging racism and intimidation on the show. The memo came from the desks of Telepictures executive vice president Donna Redier Linsk and WBTV vice president of human resources Donna Hancock Husband.
The core stage crew for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” consisting of more than 30 employees, received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month, said two sources, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Higher-ups in production would occasionally answer phone calls but reveal little, added one of the sources. The crew was further incensed by the show’s recent hire of an outside, non-union tech company to help DeGeneres tape remotely from her home in California.
When production executives finally did weigh in, nearly all crew members were told last week to brace for a 60% reduction in pay, even as the show continues to air, according to sources close to the matter.
The theme of complaints from staff seems to be a toxic work environment. According to a quote at Yahoo Life!:
“People focus on rumors about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that’s not the problem,” one employee said. “The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean. They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there: ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.'”
Again, the investigation seems to have nothing to do with DeGeneres herself. According to The Today Show “The source told NBC News that Ellen DeGeneres is not part of the investigation, adding that ‘it is not about her at all.'”