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“I want to say I am so sorry,” Ellen said after a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed a toxic work environment.
Krystie Lee Yandoli
Posted on September 21, 2020, at 9:07 a.m. ET
Ellen DeGeneres on Monday addressed allegations of a toxic work environment in her opening monologue, which first appeared in a YouTube video and will later appear on her show on Monday. DeGeneres apologized to viewers, saying she takes responsibility “for what happens at my 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,” DeGeneres said.
“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 realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
This is the first time DeGeneres has publicly addressed viewers since BuzzFeed News reported on dozens of current and former employees who said executive producers on the show engaged in rampant sexual misconduct and harassment. Another BuzzFeed News report in mid-July detailed former employees’ accounts of racism, fear, and intimidation from top managers. Executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman were later fired in August, and WarnerMedia, the studio’s parent company, launched a third party investigation.
The show filmed the episode on stage for the first time in months after taping from DeGeneres’ home during quarantine, but there wasn’t a studio audience because of the pandemic.
“This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear,” DeGeneres continued. “We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter.”
DeGeneres also said she started saying the phrase “Be kind” when a teenager named Tyler Clementi killed himself after he was bullied for being gay in 2010, but “being known as the ‘be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in.”
“There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appeared to be on TV, because I became known as the ‘Be kind’ lady. And here’s how that happened: I started saying, ‘Be kind to one another’ after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life after being bullied for being gay,” DeGeneres said.
“I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that, and I think we need it more than ever right now. 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’s thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the ‘Be kind’ lady. Don’t do it. The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV.”
BuzzFeed News has spoken to 75 current and former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show who said Glavin led with intimidation and fear on a daily basis.
Included in the allegations, five former employees said Glavin touched them in a way that made them uncomfortable by placing his hand around their lower waist and rubbing their shoulders and back. Dozens of former employees also said Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” especially in the control room.
One ex-employee also told BuzzFeed News that Leman asked him if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. Nearly a dozen former employees also said it was also common for Leman to make sexually explicit comments in the office and engage in other forms of harassment. Another former employee said Norman groomed him over a period of time by taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him..
Glavin has not responded to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment. In a prior statement to BuzzFeed News, Leman said he categorically denied “any kind of sexual impropriety.” Norman also said he was “100% categorically denying these allegations.”
BuzzFeed News also reported in August that executives knew of allegations of a toxic work environment and sexism two years ago after a complaint was filed with an industry union claiming gender discrimination, including sexist remarks made by top producers.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. confirmed the 2018 complaint in a statement, but added, “there is nothing new or noteworthy about this issue.”
“It was investigated by an outside investigator and resolved with no merit to claims of gender discrimination,” the spokesperson said.
On Thursday, Warner Bros. executives addressed the workplace allegations, pledging in internal memos obtained by BuzzFeed News to make institutional changes, including a mandate to HR and Legal teams “to act on any issues that are brought to them.”
“I am both concerned and disappointed by public reports regarding patterns of unacceptable behavior that have been raised in recent weeks,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar told staff.
News – Ellen DeGeneres Addressed Allegations Of Misconduct On Her Show