There was no beating around the bush as Season 18 of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” began Monday.
“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation," DeGeneres told a virtual audience. "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 that were affected. I know that I am 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.”
Ten former employees described the workplace environment as one rampant with racism, fear and intimidation in what became one of two whistleblowing reports.
“If [Ellen] wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what’s going on,” one former employee told Buzzfeed News. “I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody’s happy,’ and she just believes that, but it’s her responsibility to go beyond that.”
Warner Bros. launched an internal investigation, and DeGeneres apologized both internally and publicly, claiming she was mostly unaware of the unhealthy environment.
As a result of the investigation, three producers were fired.
“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry," DeGeneres said in an internal email obtained by The Washington Post. “As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.”
During Monday’s season premiere, DeGeneres said she had been looking forward to addressing the controversy directly.
She referred to accusations that she isn’t as nice as she appears to be on TV and hasn’t lived up to her catch phrase: be kind.
“The truth is, I am that person you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things," DeGeneres said. "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.”
“Maybe some of 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.”
DeGeneres asserted that her goal and passion is to make people laugh and feel good. She said that she will work to make sure the 270 people she oversees are happy and proud to work on the show.
“I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn,” she said. “I am committed to making this the best season that we have ever had.”
Read more at Buzzfeed News.
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