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Ellen DeGeneres Has Publicly Addressed Allegations Of Misconduct On Her Show For The First Time

"I want to say I am so sorry," Ellen said after a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed a toxic work environment.

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 was later on her show. 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 and 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 onstage for the first time in months after taping from DeGeneres’s 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.”

After her monologue, DeGeneres also publicly announced that Stephen "tWitch" Boss, who’s been a DJ on her show since 2014, has been promoted to co-executive producer.

“This summer was a little crazy. It was intense, but during that time there’s been a lot of learning, a lot of discussions, a lot of listening,” tWitch said. “You and I have had numerous discussions, and for me, I’m just so excited to be back here in the studio so we can do what we do best, which is bring laughter, love, and fun and also lead by example by putting our best foot forward after a bounce back. It’s all love.”

“It’s all love,” DeGeneres responded to tWitch. “That’s all that's real, is love. That’s the truth.”

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.

Here’s the full transcript of Ellen DeGeneres’s monologue:

"Oh, boy. 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, yeah? Mine was great. Super terrific. I’m so happy to be back in the studio. There’s 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. Here you all are. You look beautiful and I'm sure you smell great — that's what I'm imagining anyway.

"All right, 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'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 Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear. 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.

"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. 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.

"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'm especially working on the impatience thing because, and it's not going well, because it's not happening fast enough I will tell you that.

"Listen, you know, I don't know, I am a talk show host and you know that, but maybe some of you know that, you know, 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. I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good — that's my favorite thing to do. That and Jenga, I love that game.

"And now I am a boss of 270 people, 270 people who helped make this show what it is, 270 people who I am so grateful for. All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and to be proud to work here. 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 I 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 every day. And I'm committed to making this the best season that we have ever had."


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