Ellen DeGeneres ‘takes responsibility’ for scandal in emotional talk show return and admits she’s a ‘work in progress’
Ellen DeGeneres has finally broken her silence on the controversy surrounding her talkshow after staff accused senior producers of bullying, sexual misconduct and racism on set.
The talkshow host faced months of backlash after former and current staffers spoke out about the “toxic” culture on the set of her show, with separate claims accusing her of being “one of the meanest people alive”.
Now, DeGeneres has finally addressed the allegations at length during an opening monologue in the first episode of her show’s eighteenth season, released to YouTube before it aired on Monday (September 21).
Opening the show, she joked: “Welcome to season 18 of The Ellen DeGeneres Show! If you’re watching because you love me, thank you. If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome.
“How was everybody’s summer? Good? Mine was great,” she said to laughter from her virtual audience. “Super terrific!”
DeGeneres continued: “Let’s get to it. As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show, and then there was an investigation.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realise that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
Ellen DeGeneres ‘is working on the impatience thing’.
DeGeneres said she and her staff have had “a lot of conversations” in recent weeks about how they can improve the workplace’s culture going forward.
“We have made the necessary changes, and today we are starting a new chapter,” she said.
DeGeneres also spoke out about allegations that she is “one of the meanest people alive”, saying she became known as the “Be Kind” lady after she spoke out about the suicide of gay student Tyler Clementi, who died by suicide following homophobic bullying.
“Being known as the ‘Be Kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in, so let me give you some advice out there, if anybody is thinking about changing their title or giving themselves a nickname, don’t go with the ‘Be Kind’ lady. Don’t do it.
“The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. 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, and I am especially working on the impatience thing, and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough, I’ll tell you that,” she joked.
I’ve played a straight woman in movies, so I’m a pretty good actress.
“Listen, I am a talkshow host, and you know that, but maybe some of you know that I was an actress. I’ve played a straight woman in movies, so I’m a pretty good actress. But I don’t think that I’m that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you.
“This is me. And my intention is to always be the best person I can be, and if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that.
“If that’s ever the case, I have let myself down and I’ve hurt myself as well, because I always try to grow as a person, I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn.”
Ellen DeGeneres wants her staff to ‘be happy and be proud’ to work on her show.
DeGeneres said she loves to “make people laugh and feel good”, but said she now has a greater responsibility as a boss to 270 employees.
“All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and be proud to work here,” she said.
“This has been a horrible summer for people all around the world. People are losing their jobs, people are losing loved ones to a pandemic, people are losing their homes and lives in raging fires that are going on. There’s blatant racial injustice all around us. I watch the news and feel like, where do we even begin?
“So my hope is that we can still be a place of happiness and joy. I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh. I want to continue to help all the people that we help everyday. And I’m committed to making this the best season that we have ever had.”
DeGeneres also revealed that Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, who has served as a DJ on her talkshow since 2014, has been promoted to co-executive producer after three senior producers were fired following a Warner Media investigation into misconduct on set.
The talkshow host has faced months of backlash and criticism, beginning in March when comedian Kevin T Porter urged people to share their stories of DeGeneres “mean” behaviour.
The controversy intensified when former and current staffers told Buzzfeed News that the talkshow was plagued by a toxic on-set culture.