- Several current and former employees of the Ellen Degeneres Show claim they experienced racism, fear tactics, and a toxic culture while working for the show.
- One Black staffer claimed that on top of dealing with microaggressions, she was reprimanded for bringing up representation issues. Other staffers said they were fired for requesting time off after dealing with mental or physical health issues, or a death in the family.
- While some say that Degeneres allows this to happen, many others said that producers and managers are largely responsible for cultivating this culture.
- Three executive producers for the show, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner, said they were “heartbroken” by this news and vowed to do better going forward.
Allegations of Racism and Intimidation
On her show, Ellen Degeneres is known for massive giveaways, pulling pranks on America’s favorite stars, and preaching kindness to her viewers. However, behind the scenes, her employees paint a less positive picture of Degeneres and her team.
According to a report from BuzzFeed News published Thursday, some of the show’s current and former employees say they experienced racism, intimidation, fear tactics, and a toxic culture. The staffers said that much of this culture is created by the daytime talk show’s managers and producers.
A former Black employee told the outlet that she experienced microaggressions and other racist comments during her year and a half working for the show. She claims one writer told her she only knew the names of white co-workers. She also said that a senior-level producer told her and another Black employee, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.”
When she brought up issues of representation and discouraged people from using terms like “spirit animal,” her co-workers started to isolate from her. One person allegedly called her the “PC Police.”
In another instance, she said she found out a recently hired employee was making twice as much to do the same job as her. She asked about a raise, but after months of waiting, nothing happened. She alleges that when she brought up complaints about this, as well as discrimination and representation, she was called to a meeting with executive producer Ed Glavin, who reprimanded her. She left that meeting and never returned to the show.
Other former employees claimed they were fired for taking necessary time off. One checked into a mental hospital for a month after a suicide attempt. When they returned to work, they learned they lost their job.
“Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma,” they said to BuzzFeed. “They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra.”
Another former employee said they were fired after being in a car accident and experiencing two deaths in the family within a year. The accident required them to take three weeks of medical leave, one funeral required two days working remotely, and the second required three days off to travel to the funeral. Requesting time off for these reasons was allegedly difficult.
Executive Producers Respond
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner issued a statement saying they were heartbroken from hearing these stories.
“Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” they said in a statement to BuzzFeed. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.”
“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us,” they added. “We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”
While some blamed producers, others thought Degeneres herself should be doing more to make sure her office is as positive as she is on camera.
“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 employee said to BuzzFeed. “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.”
History of Complaints at the Ellen Show
Rumors about Degeneres being rude or creating a hostile work environment have swirled around Hollywood for a long time. Just this year, word of this behavior has started to bubble over. An April report from Variety alleged that show staffers were left in the dark when it came to their working hours and pay during the coronavirus pandemic. Frustrations were exacerbated when the show hired an outside crew to help Degeneres film remotely.
Eventually, most crew members were told to expect a 60% cut in their pay despite the fact that the show was still airing. At the same time, other talk show hosts like Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Cordon announced that they would be paying some of their staff out of their own pockets.
In May, a bodyguard assigned to protect her at the 2014 Oscars told Fox News that Degeneres was “cold” and “demeaning.” The Internet has also been collecting their own stories about Degeneres. A viral Twitter thread asking for peoples’ “most insane” stories about her has 2,600 replies and almost 5,000 retweets with comments.
According to BuzzFeed, when it comes to those working on the show, there is a strong division between those who want to call out the toxic environment, and those who “drink the Kool-Aid.”
Those who work long days without a complaint and ignore how higher-up employees treat everyone else tend to be more liked by producers. They are also allegedly incentivized and get leftover show swag like iPhones and JetBlue gift cards. Those who speak out don’t get their contracts renewed.
“People focus on rumors about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that’s not the problem. The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean,” a former employee told the outlet. “They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there — ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.’”
See what others are saying: (A.V. Club) (USA Today) (Entertainment Tonight)
Billie Eilish Advocates for Climate Action Ahead of U.N. COP26 Summit
The singer was joined by “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson and other big-name celebrities and activists in a pitch for world leaders to make substantial progress at the conference.
Billie Eilish Calls for Climate Action
Singer Billie Eilish partnered Tuesday with the environmental group Arctic Basecamp at the University of Exeter to call for meaningful climate action ahead of the U.N. COP26 climate conference.
“This year our leaders are deciding the global actions required on the environment climate emergency in a critical decade for our planet,” Eilish said in a video. “We must stand together and speak up to save our planet, not just for us, but for our future generations. And we need urgent, urgent action now.”
Eilish is no stranger to advocating for solutions to climate change. In September, the “Happier Than Ever” singer urged Congress to pass climate legislation as part of the #CodeRedClimate campaign. For her latest pitch with Arctic Basecamp, she was joined by other big names, including “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson, explorer Levison Wood, climate activist Daze Aghaji, and wildlife advocate Robert Irwin, who is the son of the late Steve Irwin.
“Courage. That’s what our world’s leaders need more than anything,” Wilson said in the video message. “The decisions that they make about the climate crisis in the next decade are the most important decisions in our planet’s history.”
What is COP26?
Arctic Basecamp works with scientists and other high-profile organizations all over the world to call attention to climate issues and encourage effective solutions. It was founded by Gail Whiteman, a professor at the University of Exeter, who released a statement thanking the slew of stars and activists for their involvement in the COP26 initiative.
“It is amazing to be working with such brave people that not only are using their voice but are using their voice for good,” she said. “This is a crisis and the Arctic is sounding the alarm. It is time that world leaders come together to create real change that ensures a safe future for humanity.”
COP26 will kick off in Glasgow on Oct. 31 and run through Nov. 12. Global leaders will discuss several actions regarding the environment, including pacts like the Paris Agreement and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. They will also focus on a series of goals, including achieving global net-zero emissions by mid-century and protecting ecosystems, along with other infrastructure threatened by climate change.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pitched the event as a key moment for the world to come together and tackle climate change. This week, he described it as “our best chance to make the changes we need to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.”
See what others are saying: (Billboard) (CNN) (The Independent)
Dave Chappelle Says He’s Willing To Meet With Trans Community Under Certain Conditions
After being criticized for transphobic comments, the comedian said he would give an audience to the transgender community even though he is “confused” about what they would be discussing.
Dave Chappelle Addresses Netflix Employees
Comedian Dave Chappelle responded on Monday to the recent backlash he has faced for making transphobic remarks in his new Netflix stand-up special “The Closer.”
Over the past several weeks, many employees at Netflix have protested against Chappelle’s program and numerous LGBTQ+ rights groups have condemned his comments. Netflix employees staged a walkout last week to call out “The Closer” and advocate for more trans and nonbinary employees to be included at the company.
Some reports have alleged that Chappelle denied the opportunity to speak with the trans community and allies at Netflix. In a new video addressing the controversy, Chappelle refuted that allegation.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” he said “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.“
“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?” he continued. “You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office.”
Chappelle Says He Will Meet With Trans Community
Chappelle added that he would be willing to meet with the trans community but is not “bending to anybody’s demands.”
“I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end,” Chappelle explained. “You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Gadsby is a comedian best known for her Netflix special “Nanette.” While defending Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos name-dropped Gadsby and “Nanette” as examples of the service’s offerings that give voice to marginalized communities. Gadsby shot back at the executive, saying she did not want him to “drag [her] name into [his] mess.”
“Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” Gadsby wrote on Instagram. “Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult.”
During “The Closer,” Chappelle called himself “team TERF” while discussing author J.K. Rowling being “canceled” after making a series of transphobic comments herself. He said he agreed with Rowling and added that “gender is a fact.” He later made a slew of other comments, including a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
As outrage poured in, Sarandos released a series of statements in support of Chappelle and his artistic freedom. During his video, Chappelle thanked Sarandos, claiming that he has lost a series of opportunities amid the controversy. Chappelle recently completed a documentary that he says was going to screen at film festivals, but he is allegedly no longer welcome at those events.
“When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer,’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals, and now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” Chapelled claimed. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
Chappelle later announced that he will be taking his documentary on tour to cities like San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and Toronto.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter) (NPR)
Affidavit Outlines Alleged Events That Lead Up to Fatal Shooting on “Rust” Set
Before the tragic incident that resulted in the death of the film’s cinematographer, actor Alec Baldwin was allegedly assured that the gun he was handed on set was not loaded.
Details of Events Leading Up to Shooting
An affidavit alleges that actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved him pointing a gun at the camera when he misfired the weapon last week, killing the production’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injuring director Joel Souza.
Multiple outlets obtained the affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday. The document details the alleged events that resulted in Thursday’s tragedy on the set of “Rust.” Souza told investigators that during a firearms safety announcement, he heard the prop weapon referred to as a “cold gun,” a term that means the gun is not loaded.
According to Souza, the guns on set were usually checked by two people: armorer Hannah Guttierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. Halls was in charge of giving the guns to actors, though sources said both Guttierrez-Reed and Halls did so at various times.
The affidavit said that Halls handed the gun to Baldwin while announcing it as a “cold gun.” Investigators say investigators that Halls got the revolver from a tray set up by Gutierrez-Reed.
Souza said the crew had spent part of the day preparing for a scene in a church and later left to take a lunch break at another location. He said he was unsure if the firearm had been checked again after returning from lunch.
When the accident happened. Souza said he heard what “sounded like a whip and then loud pop.” He first noticed Hutchins grabbing her midsection and stumbling back before realizing he had been hit in the shoulder.
The incident came after six camera crew workers reportedly walked off the set in protest of unfair and unsafe working conditions. According to the affidavit, a replacement crew had quickly been hired, but production on the day of the accident was off to a late start because of related issues. Regarding general on-set behavior, Souza claimed that “everyone was getting along” and that there had been “no altercations” to his knowledge.
The affidavit’s walkout claim backed up previous reporting from The Los Angeles Times. Sources from the set of “Rust” told the outlet on Friday that half a dozen workers left the set because they were frustrated by safety issues, long hours, long commutes, and a long wait for their paychecks.
Safety Issues on Set of “Rust”
According to the report, standard industry safety protocols “were not strictly followed,” and at least one worker complained specifically about gun safety. Some sources told The Times that there had already been at least two accidental discharges of a prop gun. Around a week before the fatal accident, Baldwin’s stunt double allegedly fired two rounds after being told a gun was cold.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one source told the outlet. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Another source told The Times that “corners were being cut” on set.
The report also claimed that Hutchins was among those advocating for her team to have safer work conditions.
Rust Movie Productions released a statement saying safety “is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.”
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the statement continued.
Baldwin, for his part, sent his condolences to Hutchins’ family on Friday. At the time, he said he was cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Vigils have been held in New Mexico and Hollywood to honor Hutchins. The American Film Institute also made a memorial scholarship in her name.