Ellen DeGeneres today took the unprecedented step of issuing an apology to staff on her embattled talk show — but her words of regret rang hollow for many, who've labelled it a non-apology and accused the star of throwing her own staff under the bus.
In a letter to staff of The Ellen DeGeneres Show obtained and published in full byThe Hollywood Reporter, the star apologises for what's gone on, insisting that steps will be taken to "correct the issues" going forward. THR also reports that an executive producer on the show, Ed Glavin, will "soon be out."
Earlier this month, a bombshell Buzzfeed report collated stories from 10 former and one current Ellen employee – all speaking anonymously – described a "toxic work environment" with a culture of "racism, fear and intimidation".
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Ellen's language in the letter suggests she wasn't fully aware of the alleged workplace culture at the talk show she's hosted for more than 2700 episodes over the past 17 years. She opens by saying she wanted the show to be a "place of happiness" and is "disappointed to learn that this has not been the case".
"As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again," she says.
"I'm also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop."
These statements do square with the complaints raised in the Buzzfeed investigation: She barely figures in the employee complaints, aside from one employee alleging they were told never to talk to her if they saw her around the office.
In those employee accounts, DeGeneres figures as a remote boss who has little to do with many of those working on her show.
But today, many have accused Ellen of passing the buck and deflecting responsibility onto others:
"Uh. I have several friends that have worked on this show – SHE is the problem. Not a single person had a positive experience and 2 were verbally berated by her," tweeted music producer Jordan Buckelew.
"Wasn't even an apology! she shifted the blame entirely and threw her staff under the bus," said another Twitter user.
Variety reported this week that The Ellen DeGeneres Show "has become the subject of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia" following the reports of workplace issues on the series.
Executives reportedly sent a memo to staff last week saying they have engaged an employee relations group and a third party firm, "who will interview current and former staffers about their experiences on set," said Variety.
The workplace troubles are the latest in a long line of PR disasters for Ellen, who has suffered through awkward celebrity encounters and a viral Twitter thread labelling her the "meanest person alive" this year.
The comedian also came under fire from Ellen staff members for failing to communicate the status of their jobs and pay amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, beauty influencer Nikkie de Jager, who appeared on her talk show in January, claimed DeGeneres was particularly "cold" and gave preferential treatment to A-list guests.
DeGeneres' alleged bad reputation was further supported by Tom Majercak, a former bodyguard who protected DeGeneres at the 2014 Oscars. In an interview with Fox News, Majercak branded the host as "sly" and "demeaning".
Perhaps the moment the tide turned for Ellen – an intensely awkward interview with actress Dakota Johnson in November last year, in which Johnson publicly called Ellen out for not coming to her birthday party.
And just yesterday, a new story emerged from here in Australia: A former Today show boss revealed what really went on behind the scenes when Richard Wilkins interviewed Ellen in 2013.