HOUSTON – “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is being investigated by parent company WarnerMedia, following several complaints of a toxic work environment, including reports of intimidation and racism, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Variety first reported that a memo was sent last week to show staff from Telepictures Warner Bros. Television executives notifying them of the investigation.
According to Variety, the memo revealed the companies have engaged with WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm, who will conduct interviews of current and former staff members regarding their experiences on set, sources said.
The investigation comes following multiple reports discussing the working conditions and staffers’ experience at the day-time show.
In April, Variety reported about distress and outrage among DeGeneres’ production crew, who said they were subjected to poor communication and told to expect reduced compensation during initial coronavirus shutdowns — even as the series hired nonunion crews to mount a quarantined production from the host’s Los Angeles home. The crew was restored to full pay prior to the publication of Variety’s report.
At the time, a Warner Bros. spokesperson acknowledged that communication could have been better but cited complications due to the chaos caused by COVID-19. WarnerMedia has, like all other studios, been under pressure in recent years to investigate all claims of workplace hostility in response to increased focus on misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
More recently, BuzzFeed published a report alleging racism and intimidation on the show.
BuzzFeed’s story reveals multiple incidents of accused racist behavior, including microaggressions and jokes about mistaking two Black female employees with the same hairstyle.
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner and Mary Connelly addressed the allegations in a joint 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,” the group wrote.
“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. 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.”
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