One of the most dramatic human-interest stories to have absorbed Twitter, television, and whatnot in the past few months is most certainly the one involving comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her colleagues.
The dance-prone 62-year-old TV diva and host of her long-running namesake show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is currently beleaguered by what her co-workers refer to as a “toxic workplace culture.”
So, how did the imbroglio start?
In March, comedian Kevin T. Porter started a thread on Twitter half-jokingly, half-seriously asking people to contribute “the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean” in exchange for donations to a Los Angeles food bank.
Months later, Buzzfeed News published an investigation in which 11 people - one current and 10 former Ellen employees - shared their own stories of “day-to-day toxicity”, including being sacked after taking medical leave or days off to attend family funerals, as well as being subjected to racist attacks in the workplace, etc.
"If she 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 staffer said in the media report.
“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”, the employee continued.
A little over a week later, on 27 July, The Ellen DeGeneres Show was formally placed under investigation by WarnerMedia, but the flow of complaints showed no sign of stopping, although not all of them centred on Ellen herself.
For instance, just recently, ex-employees spoke out about being subjected to sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct at the hands of several of The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s executive producers.
“Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge”, Brad Garrett, an Everybody Loves Raymond star, readily weighed in.
Last week, the flamboyant host came up with an apology (which was naturally attributed by some to her apparent wish to keep her current contract running until 2023 intact).
The Finding Dory star made it long, but heartfelt and to the point:
"It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice”, she wrote, going on:
“We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so”.
Ellen’s wife, though, actress Portia De Rossi, made a far more laconic statement on Monday, posting on her Instagram account a word of unconditional support for her partner:
“To all our fans.…we see you. Thank you for your support”, adding the hashtags #stopbotattacks, #IStandWithEllenDeGeneres, #IStandByEllen, #IStandByEllenDeGeneres, and #bekindtooneanother.
Ellen Leaving, or Shown the Door?
On 2 August, Us Magazine reported, citing a source, that DeGeneres is "p*ssed that people have come forward to share these negative stories about her and feels betrayed", noting that part of her "wants out" from the show.
This is where rumours about her resignation started to snowball, and are still being spread - even more so after a second cited “insider” said she "has enough money to never work again", despite the show's producer Andy Lassner outright shooting down claims of the programme ending.