The staff at The Ellen DeGeneres Show is “happy” to be back at work, and the environment on set feels a lot different this time around, ETI has learned.
During the show’s season 18 premiere on Monday, host Ellen DeGeneres spoke out about her “horrible summer” and took full “responsibility” for everything that goes on behind the scenes. ETI has learned that DeGeneres wrote the monologue herself and filmed it last Wednesday. Her wife, Portia de Rossi, was present for the taping.
“I’m so happy to be back in the studio. There are a lot of things I want to talk about. I’ve been looking forward to addressing it all directly and, unfortunately, talking directly to people has been illegal for six months, so I have a virtual audience here instead,” DeGeneres, 62, said at the top of the show. “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’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I am Ellen DeGeneres.”
“We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about our show, our workplace, and what we want for the future,” she continued. “We have made the necessary changes and today, we are starting a new chapter.”
ETI has learned that the crew applauded DeGeneres as soon as she walked off the stage, and that it was an emotional moment for everyone.
“Ellen seems more open with staff. The vibe from all staff and crew in week one was more positive and enthusiastic,” a source told ETI. “Portia was there for support, but she’s often there so it wasn’t that unusual.”
As ETI previously reported, Warner Bros. Television sent an internal memo to staffers in July, informing them that WarnerMedia would be seeking the services of an independent third-party firm to interview current and former employees about their experiences behind the scenes on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, after one current and 10 former employees anonymously spoke with BuzzFeed News about their negative experiences working on the program.
In an internal letter sent to show staff that month, which was obtained by ETI, DeGeneres apologized and affirmed that she was committed to “having conversations about fairness and justice.” During the first day back for production on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in August, ETI also learned that a staff meeting was called, where DeGeneres surprised everyone by appearing for the virtual conference call. The comedian said she was devastated to learn some of the allegations and stories that have come out, including that she does not look people in the eye and that she does not address people. DeGeneres said that was not who she is, and apologized if anyone ever felt that she did not pay attention to them. She asked staff to please talk to her and to look at her, and that all these reports hurt her and she was sorry people felt that way.
ETI later learned that ahead of the show’s Sept. 14 premiere, the show implemented new perks for staff amid WarnerMedia’s workplace investigation. An insider told ETI that the new benefits — which include increased paid time off and a liberal medical leave policy — as well as DeGeneres’ address to staffers, have been a morale booster.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. also confirmed to ETI that following the workplace allegations, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman left the show, while the program’s resident DJ, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, was promoted to co-executive producer.
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