Ellen DeGeneres Apologizes to Staff Amid Top Producer Shakeup
By Zach Seemayer
Mike Rozman/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Ellen DeGeneres has apologized to her staff. ET has learned that Monday marked the first day back for production onThe Ellen DeGeneres Show, and a staff meeting was called, where DeGeneres surprised everyone by appearing for the virtual conference call.
A source tells ET that DeGeneres was was "very real, unscripted, raw and honest. Her words were very heartfelt."
ET has learned the comedian and host expressed that she felt the show was a well-oiled machine and it was running well. However, what she has come to realize that it wasn’t running well and it's not a machine, but these are human beings.
DeGeneres said she was devastated to learn some of the allegations and stories that have come out about people saying she does not look people in the eye, or that she does not address people.
DeGeneres said that is not who she is, and apologized if anyone ever felt that she did not pay attention to them. She asked staff to please talk to her, please look at her. She said all these reports hurt her and she is sorry people feel this way.
Someone who was part of the Zoom meeting tells ET the staff seemed really hopeful after hearing DeGeneres' words, adding, "It felt like a nice page turn" and that the staff is "really hopeful and optimistic."
ET has learned that longtime executive producer Andy Lassner spoke to the staff about the accusation that there is systemic racism at the show. Lassner said the investigation showed, after speaking to over 100 former and current employees that there is no evidence of systemic racism at the show. Lassner said, however, some staffers have been hurt by jokes that have been told and that it is not OK.
Lassner announced that all levels of management will be attending new training and education programs. DeGeneres herself announced there would be a permanent Warner Brothers HR employee at the show and encouraged people to reach out to this person if they have anything large or small to talk about.
One of the executive producers said the goal is to create an environment for employees at the show that is as fun as it is to see the show on TV, ET has learned.
A source says the staff is looking forward to the new premiere date on September 14th.
This wasn't the first apology from DeGeneres to her staff, however. In an internal letter sent to show staff, which was obtained by ET on July 30, DeGeneres apologized and affirmed that she was committed to "having conversations about fairness and justice."
ET has learned that the daytime talk show will now be headed by executive producers Lassner, as well as Mary Connelly and Derek Westervelt. This development comes following the termination of three top producers at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, including executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
Glavin, Leman and Norman were cited in a July 30 story published by BuzzFeed News about allegations of a toxic work environment and misconduct at the talk show. The three producers were reportedly initially suspended in the wake of the story.
Leman's attorney, Michael Plonsker, released a statement to ET regarding his termination. "The fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man – a popular figure and a creative force behind the Ellen show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen – is shocking," the statement read. "Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment."
As ET previously reported, Warner Bros. Television sent an internal memo to staffers after BuzzFeed News' article, informing them that WarnerMedia would be seeking the services of an independent third-party firm to interview current and former employees about their experiences behind the scenes on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
For more on the behind-the-scenes drama and shake-ups, see the video below.