It was a pipe dream to think that Ellen DeGeneres would lose her show, or that Warner Bros would make her pay for anything in the wake of all of the stories about her unpleasant behavior, and the toxic work environment on her show. That’s not the way power works and that’s not the way Hollywood works. Even though it’s more than clear that Ellen created the toxic environment directly or through her apathy, and even though it’s clear that Ellen is actually a terrible person to every non-celebrity, she was never going to get hit with it immediately. Not when there are producers she can throw under the bus.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has overhauled its senior production team in the wake of accusations of racial insensitivity, sexual misconduct and other problems in the work environment at the long-running daytime talk show.
Three senior producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman — have been ousted from the Warner Bros.-distributed syndicated strip following damning allegations raised in recent reports by Buzzfeed and Variety. “Ellen” veterans Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner and Derek Westervelt will remain at the show as executive producers alongside host DeGeneres. Connelly, Lassner and Westervelt have been with the show since its inception in 2003.
The news was delivered to “Ellen” staffers Monday afternoon during a staff meeting in which DeGeneres spoke via a videoconference call. DeGeneres was emotional to the point of tears, and apologetic as she addressed more than 200 staffers. According to multiple sources, DeGeneres told the staff she was “not perfect” and realized that in the effort for the show to run as a “well-oiled machine,” sometimes leaders were not as sensitive to “human beings” as they should have been. She added that reading disturbing allegations about the atmosphere on the show was “heartbreaking.”
By all accounts, these producers did need to be fired. But I have my doubts as to whether firing three producers will fundamentally change the toxicity within the show. There’s no real promise of big restructuring, and I would imagine that these firings are coming ahead of some impending lawsuits or out-of-court settlements to several former employees as well.
Ellen apparently told staffers on the call that: “I’m a multi-layered person, and I try to be the best person I can be and I try to learn from my mistakes. I’m hearing that some people felt that I wasn’t kind or too short with them, or too impatient. I apologize to anybody if I’ve hurt your feelings in any way.” She also promised to be more available to staff and “she acknowledged she can be introverted at times and she apologized if that was ever seen as hurtful. They’re putting in real structures and resources for people so this never happens again and that is extremely important to Ellen.” Well, I guess that answers my questions about whether Ellen even wants to continue doing the show – she clearly does. She clearly still wants her show, and she’s willing to fire people and make some vague promises to keep it.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.