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Former Ellen Show Employees Describe “Toxic” Work Culture

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  • 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)

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BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Backlash After Claiming “Luther” Was Not an “Authentic” Black Lead

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  • BBC Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland sparked backlash after saying Monday that the Idris Elba-led series “Luther” was not authentic because the Black protagonist “doesn’t have any Black friends” and “doesn’t eat any Caribbean food.”
  • Many criticized Wayland’s remarks, arguing that she essentially implied the character was not “Black enough” because he did not fall into certain stereotypes. 
  • BBC defended the show and said they were “tremendously proud” of “Luther.” Meanwhile series creator Neil Cross said one of the reasons Elba was attracted to the role was because it did not center on race.

BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Controversy

The Diversity Chief at BBC sparked backlash after implying that the title character in the hit series “Luther” was not an authentic Black lead.

The crime drama ran for five seasons between 2010 and 2019, starring Idris Elba as detective John Luther. It won Elba a Golden Globe in 2012 and earned him four Emmy nominations. 

“When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” BBC’s Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland said while speaking on diversity and inclusion strategies during the Digital MIPTV conference on Monday. “We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right?”

“But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic,” she continued.

Fans Defend “Luther”

Her remarks upset numerous people who felt Wayland was implying that Luther was not “Black enough” because he didn’t fall into certain racial stereotypes.

“This farcical criticism was clearly thought up out of boredom or just sheer ignorance,” one Twitter user wrote. “Luther is a brilliant series and actually shows a Black actor in a light not defined by anything but his ability to do his job. Stop using stereotypes to justify your own insecurities.”

Many pointed to the fact that even successful actors like Elba still have to deal with being labeled either “not Black enough” in some roles, but “too Black” for others. Elba has long been rumored as a potential pick to be the next James Bond. If he were cast, he would be the first Black actor to take the famous role. Despite his popularity, nothing has come of those rumors.

Others found the criticism of him not having Black friends to be especially weak because Luther did not have a lot of friends in general, as one of his character traits was his stark commitment to his job.

BBC and “Luther” Creator Respond

The creator of “Luther,” Neil Cross, told The Daily Mail that one of the reasons Elba was interested in the role was because it had nothing to do with race. Many doubled down on the fact that the show was great because his character was complex and human on his own without having to deal with racial issues, something that is often not seen in shows with Black leads.

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“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain,” Cross said in his statement to The Daily Mail. “ It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character.”

“We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a Black character,” he continued.

A BBC spokesperson also defended the show in a statement to The Independent saying the network is “tremendously proud” of “Luther.”

“The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas ‘I May Destroy You’ and ‘Small Axe’ are testament to that,” the spokesperson continued. “Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy.”

Elba himself has not directly responded to the situation, though some think an Instagram story he posted Wednesday may have been related to it.

“We must not pull ourselves backwards, only push ourselves forward,” the actor wrote. 

See what others are saying: (The Independent) (The Daily Mail) (The Wrap)

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Durte Dom Returns To TikTok Following Sexual Assault Accusation Levied Against Him

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  • YouTuber Dom Zeglaitis, a former member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad known online as Durte Dom, returned to the Internet less than one month after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2018 who was too drunk to consent.
  • Zeglaitis has not issued a response to the allegation, but in the past three days, he has posted a dozen TikToks that mostly consist of short sketches and jokes he filmed with friends. 
  • One post shows Zeglaitis participating in the “Bulletproof” challenge, with text in the clip reading, “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…”
  • Several people, including major creators like Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, are now calling him out for seeming to make light out of a serious situation.

Durte Dom Returns To Internet

Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, also known as “Durte Dom,” has resumed posting on social media after nearly a month of silence since he was accused of sexual assault. 

A woman told Insider in March that Zeglaitis raped her while she was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018. She said that she and her friends were hanging out with YouTuber David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad at the time. The accuser, who was under 21 the night of the alleged assault, claimed the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol. 

The fallout of this allegation has been significant. While Zeglaitis has yet to respond to it, Dobrik has issued multiple apologies and faced most of the financial repercussions as frontman of the group. Both Zeglaitis and Dobrik were later demonetized by YouTube. Dobrik also lost multiple sponsorship deals and bowed out of Dispo, a photo-sharing app he co-founded. He is now taking a break from YouTube and social media. 

Though Zeglaitis has returned to the Internet, he is still largely ignoring the sexual assault accusation levied against him. He specifically began posting on TikTok over the weekend, and since then has posted roughly a dozen videos on the platform. 

Durte Dom Jokes About The Vlog Squad on TikTok

Most of the videos are short sketches or comedy bits with his friends. In one, he and a friend are going through Omegle while Zeglaitis is off-screen. The friend asks the people on the other end of the chat “What are your thoughts on Durte Dom?” before Zeglaitis enters the shot.

Several of the videos continue to reference Zeglaitis’ sleazy, womanizing, reputation. One shows him claiming to have “smashed” adult film star Riley Reid. In another, he is sitting on a lounge chair throwing money at girls dancing next to him. 

The video generating the most attention, however, is his take on the viral “Bulletproof” challenge. That TikTok features him standing below a text block that reads “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…” while the song “Bulletproof” plays in the background.

@dominykas

bruh why they kick me out?!? 😐😵 @daviddobrik #vlogsquad #foryou #tiktok

♬ original sound – DurteDom

In the caption of that video, he tagged Dobrik and asked “bruh why they kick me out?!?”

Creators Call Out Zeglaitis for Ignoring Allegation

This specific TikTok caught the attention of major creators, including Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, who dueted that video to call Zeglaitis out. 

“Someone please make this make sense to me,” Mongeau wrote.

“This mf serious?” Klein said.

They are not the only ones frustrated with Zeglaitis. Many responded to the video in the comment section shocked he was posting at all, bringing up the sexual assault allegation, and urging him to not treat it as a joke. 

The comment sections on the rest of his videos are similarly flooded with people who are outraged that he is posting regular content as though nothing had happened.

See what others are saying: (Insider)

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TikToker Neumane Called Out for Copying Content From Smaller Creators

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  • Kane Trujillo, a comedy TikToker known as @neumane, is facing backlash after fellow TikToker Joey Bailey posted a video noting that Trujillo has risen to popularity off content copied from several, often smaller, creators.
  • Bailey also shared an alleged audio message he received from Trujillo where he threatened Bailey to take his call-out video down before sending a second message promising to pursue legal action.
  • In a clip from a TikTok live stream, Trujillo addressed the controversy by saying that “nothing’s original” and seemingly admitting to copying.
  • “It’s not who made it first, it’s who does it better,” he said in the clip. “Who gives a f*ck about some little copied content? … I’m an actor. I’m not a writer, I’m not a f*cking storyteller…You give me a script, I will f*cking nail that sh*t. And I’m not gonna think of it, no, but I’m gonna make yours better.”

Stealing Accusations

Popular comedy TikToker Kane Trujillo, who has over 2.7 million followers and is known on the platform as @neumane, has been called out by fellow creators for a pattern of stealing content.

The latest creator sounding the alarm is Joey Bailey (@joey.bailey), who posted a video to the app on March 15 that showed Trujillo’s posts next to the original versions he appears to have replicated, often word for word and with nearly identical expressions.

Similar allegations regarding Trujillo were made on March 13 in a YouTube video from thatsjustchris.

@joey.bailey

they took this down so this is the last time I repost it

♬ original sound – Joey

In a follow-up TikTok and a longer YouTube video, Bailey went on to explain that he received an audio message from Trujillo through Instagram trying to get Bailey to take the call-out video down.

@joey.bailey

I got a lot of questions about the messages in the last post so heres the final update and that’s it

♬ original sound – Joey

“You can kindly take it down and we can just, you know, be cool and move on from all this sh*t, or you could just leave it up and have a lot of enemies from here on out,” the voice that allegedly belongs to Trujillo can be heard saying in the audio.

Bailey said he privated the video after that because he “didn’t want to become the drama TikToker,” but he eventually changed his mind, arguing that he wasn’t starting drama, he was just standing up for himself.

After he unprivated the video, he said Trujillo sent him another message promising to pursue legal action.

“As of today me & my management team will be proceeding with a False Accusation lawsuit against you. I wish we didn’t have to go this far but you leave me no choice,” that message read.

Copied Creators Express Mixed Feelings

In total, at least several creators appear to have had content copied by Trujillo: @nuhchez, @ty_t.v, @brodiefalgoust, @dawson.taylor1, @licout, @lemmuelmamotsau, and @joey.bailey.

In statements to The Daily Dot, some of those creators essentially said they’ve accepted that this is something that happens on TikTok.

“This is something I’ve come to accept because sadly TikTok is an app that will push stolen content and Suppress originality!” Natchez Ballinger (@nuhchez) told the outlet in an email. “Creators have stolen from me since I’ve joined the app, I take it as flattery in a way.”

“I mean yeah he did steal my video and it became more popular but it’s TikTok,” Dawson Anderson (@dawson.taylor1) told the outlet via Instagram. “I don’t really care all that much it’s a video trend not worth crying over.”

Still, others were much more frustrated.

“The thing with him is that he doesn’t steal ideas, he steals the video word for word, uses the same sound, the same gestures, and even the same wording without giving any credit to the creator whatsoever,” Brodie Falgoust (@brodiefalgoust) told The Daily Dot via Instagram. “That is how he gained all of his following, and continues to do it still (even after being called out). I get ripped off all the time but It’s frustrating as a smaller creator who is constantly coming out with original content when a person with a big following comes and takes credit for your originality.”

“People take my ideas but any creator that has been bigger than me has given me credit!” Falgoust continued.

“There is [a] large difference between following a trend and ripping off someone’s work shot for shot and word for word,” said another creator who spoke to the outlet anonymously out of feat of legal retaliation.

“A lot of users do not understand how much work some of these creators are putting into original content. And for Neumane to hunt down those smaller creators and reproduce their successful content as his own without acknowledging credit is exasperating. The real issue becomes the money and opportunity he is being given by eating off of the backs of others.”

Neumane’s Response

In a clip of a TikTok live stream reviewed by The Daily Dot, Neumane addressed the controversy by saying, “nothing’s original.” He also seemed to admit to copying.

“Imagine showing hate to somebody on the internet,” Trujillo reportedly said during the live stream. “Like bro, just show love. Who gives a f*ck about some little copied content? Like, just make it good, and yours will get a lot of views. Do good expression, act well. I’m an actor. I’m not a writer, I’m not a f*cking storyteller. I’m an actor. You give me a script, I will f*cking nail that sh*t. And I’m not gonna think of it, no, but I’m gonna make yours better.”

A viral TikTok by @ttdramanews covering the allegations against Trujillo shared portions of that clip, which also shows Trujillo saying, “It’s not who made it first, it’s who does it better.”

According to The Daily Dot, Trujillo talked about people needing to show love, though commenters quickly pointed out that he’s the one threatening others with legal action.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Joey Bailey) (thatsjustchris)

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