No clue why Ellen's constantly in the news? Enter: your guide to the Ellen DeGeneres scandal, courtesy of one rather unimpressed writer.
Some of you may be wondering what the hell is up with Ellen DeGeneres. You keep hearing her name, and you’re pretty sure some shit is going down, but what shit, exactly?
Well, now's as good a time as any to get you up to speed with everything that's going down with the daytime talk show host, from toxic workplace claims to tone-deaf celebrity endorsements and disturbing allegations against her top producers. Here goes...
October 2019: Ellen Kicks It With George W. Bush
Back in the halcyon days of 2019, Ellen DeGeneres copped it for a widely-publicised chinwag with former US President George W. Bush at a Texas football game. Given that Bush is a reported war criminal, this is probably when her nice lady image started to lose some pizzazz.
In response, Ellen whipped out a monologue that somehow argued she’s mates with George W. Bush because she’s a very kind person. Not that you’d understand kindness, you bloody pacifists! Grow up.
Her take below. Interesting video title.
November 2019: Ellen Faces Off With A Spicy Dakota Johnson
The following month blessed us with this deeply uncomfortable exchange between Ellen DeGeneres and actress Dakota Johnson on her show.
When Ellen had a go at the actress for not inviting her to her 30th birthday party, things got real when Dakota insisted she absolutely did, Ellen just didn’t go. “Are you sure?” Ellen asked. “Ask everybody,” Dakota shot back. “Ask your producer.” Oh-my-fuck. The whole interview was just so painful, I hated every moment and I can only urge you to watch all of it.
April 2020: Ellen Likens Her Mansion To A Prison Cell
Back in the early days of the pandemic, Ellen DeGeneres made headlines for comparing hunkering down in her US$27 million mansion to being in a correctional facility.
Some people didn’t really appreciate that; actual ex-prisoners, for example. Her comments felt especially tone-deaf in light of how much people were generally struggling at the time.
July 2020: Ellen’s Show Is Investigated By Warner Bros
While rumours that Ellen is “notoriously one of the meanest people alive” have been circling the periphery of pop culture for a while, this was when allegations around just how difficult Ellen supposedly was to work with, and the toxic workplace culture that The Ellen DeGeneres Show cultivated, really started to firm up.
An exclusive from Buzzfeed News appeared to suggest that Ellen's was a workplace whose ethos was less ‘be kind’ and more ‘make your staff miserable’. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
“That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” one former employee told the publication about the work environment.
Reportedly, some staffers put up with a litany of racist nonsense behind the scenes of the hit show, while others were fired for taking medical leave or attending funerals. That'll teach 'em!
And then came Buzzfeed News' second damning report on The Ellen DeGeneres Show scandal, where former executives told the publication that top producers on the show engaged in sexual misconduct in the workplace. The accusations of sexual harassment performed by higher-ups are disturbing, and are laid out in full in Buzzfeed News' investigation.
It was around this time that parent company WarnerMedia (part of Warner Bros) stepped in to investigate these various allegations, with the intention of interviewing staffers (both past and present) about their experiences working on the show behind the scenes.
Late July 2020: Ellen Releases An Apology Letter
Towards the end of July, Ellen released an apology letter addressed to her team about the unfolding events.
“I could not have the success I've had without all of your contributions,” Ellen wrote in the letter published by The Hollywood Reporter. Read the full letter below.
“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”.
Early August 2020: Wife Portia De Rossi Weighs In
Highlights of this chaotic weekend included whispers that DeGeneres wanted to jump ship from The Ellen Degeneres Show, rumours that she was to be replaced with James Cordon (wot?), and a message of support from Ellen’s wife, Portia De Rossi. The image, which was posted to Instagram, included the words, “Be Kind To One Another”.
Get the full rundown on that historic weekend here.
Early August 2020: Ellen’s Mates Come To Her Defense
A few days later, a bunch of Ellen’s celebrity buds took to social media to insist that Ellen was never mean to them. To be clear, there was never any question that Ellen would treat the rich and the powerful well: the allegations referred to the mistreatment of staff.
Unfortunately, their testimonies did nothing for the employees who look to have endured an abusive workplace, some for several years.
Thanks anyway, celebs.
Mid-August 2020: DeGeneres' Former DJ Confirms Shit Was Messed Up
It was around this time that beloved DJ Tony Okungbowa – who spent a decade on The Ellen DeGeneres Show – weighed in on the questionable vibes of the work environment he experienced. “While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward”, he said on his Instagram page. Yikes.
Mid-August 2020: Ellen’s show producers bail and DeGeneres has a second go at apologising
According to a spokesperson at Warner Bros, senior Ellen Show producers Ed Galvin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman “parted ways” with the talk show on Monday, August 17. Many of the allegations made against the show (including those of sexual harassment and racism) were tied to these three producers so…they sound nice.
On a video call to her staff that same day, DeGeneres tried her hand at another apology where she owned up to perhaps being at fault herself.
“I’m hearing that some people felt I wasn’t kind or too short with them, or too impatient. I apologise to anybody if I’ve hurt your feelings in any way”, she reportedly continued.
Ah, the old non-apology apology. Damn DeGeneres, you were so close.
Late August 2020: The Ellen Show Is Replaced By Desperate Housewives
As we reported earlier this week, Channel Nine has taken The Ellen DeGeneres Show off the air.
“We are resting Ellen repeats on Nine and have replaced with Desperate Housewives,” a spokesperson told news.com.au. Resting. Love that.
And while Ellen is scheduled to start shooting the 18th season of her talk show in September 2020, it’s not clear yet whether the Nine will air the show down under again.
Early September 2020: Channel Nine Decides To Keep Ellen On Aussie TV
Well that was quick. A spokesperson apparently told The Daily Mail the show would return to Channel Nine on September 22.
Late September 2020: The Show's 18th Season Premieres And Ellen Delivers An On-Air Apology
The first episode of The Ellen Show's 18th (!) season aired in the US on September 21. In her opening monologue, Ellen was quick to address and apologise for the allegations made against both her and the show. Catch her apology below and our most burning questions about it here.
Again, her apology wasn't well-received by staffers, many of whom found it inappropriately jocular given the seriousness of what had gone down. Get the complete rundown of what current and former staffers thought about Ellen's apology here.
watch this space..
That’s a wrap, guys! If you made it this far, you are now officially up to date with the Ellen DeGeneres Show controversy. Now go forth, secure in the knowledge that 'what's the hell's going on with Ellen DeGeneres?' will never again pass your lips.
This article was updated on Thursday 24th September, 2020.