The Ellen DeGeneres Show executive producers have addressed employees in a series of Zoom meetings promising to make “concrete changes” amid allegations of behind-the-scenes racism and sexual misconduct, according to sources.
"Any culture of fear is done,” executive producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly, and Derek Westervelt told staffers.
Instead of having a single staff meeting with all employees, Lassner, Connelly, and Westervelt held separate meetings over Zoom with the different departments on the show. The executive producers also told employees they’re “blind to the investigation” and will update them “as the investigation plays out.” They also noted their lack of oversight on the show’s rapid growth over the years, and gave employees the name of a specific HR representative whom they could go to with any comments or concerns.
The meetings followed recent reports from BuzzFeed News in which dozens of former Ellen employees said executive producers engaged in rampant sexual misconduct and harassment. Another BuzzFeed News report from mid-July detailing former employees’ accounts of racism, fear, and intimidation from top managers also prompted Warner Bros. to launch an internal investigation.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management,” Warner Bros. said in a statement on Thursday. "We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them.”
Sources told BuzzFeed News there was no mention of executive producer Ed Glavin in Monday’s Zoom meetings. Five women who used to work on the show accused Glavin of touching 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.
Glavin did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment regarding the allegations.
A longtime former employee said they’re concerned that there hasn’t been a formal announcement about Glavin.
“I find it really egregious that this man can do what he’s done for 17 years and still maintain his salary and not get fired,” they said.
The former employee also said that DeGeneres “didn't just turn a blind eye” to what more than 50 former employees have called a toxic work environment.
“You cannot stand up in front of an audience as large as hers every single day for 17 years and say the words ‘be kind to one another’ and do what she did,” they said.
A longtime employee who still works at the show told BuzzFeed News they’re skeptical about any real changes that can come from executive producers because “no one is holding themselves accountable, they just made excuses for it.”
Tony Okungbowa, who was a DJ on The Ellen Show from 2003 to 2006 and then from 2007 to 2013, addressed his experience on the show in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
“While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment,” Okungbowa wrote. “And I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”