Jerry O'Connell on Feeling 'Compelled' to Defend Ellen DeGeneres Amid Workplace Allegations (Exclusive)
By Zach Seemayer
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Amid the brewing storm of controversy surrounding Ellen DeGeneres and her daytime talk show, Jerry O'Connell spoke out in support of the comic on Instagram. Speaking with ET, the actor explained why he decided to weigh in.
The actor shared a graphic, first posted by DeGeneres' wife, Portia de Rossi, that read "I Stand By Ellen," and O'Connell explained that his long friendship with the couple is one reason he's showing solidarity.
"I've known Ellen and Portia for almost three decades now and I saw that Portia… Instagrammed out, 'All of our friends, we need your support right now.' And I felt compelled to [repost] it," O'Connell shared.
However, like the others, O'Connell has also taken some heat online from some who feel he shouldn't support DeGeneres in the wake of accusations against her show claiming that it was a toxic and hostile environment for employees and crew members.
"I'm not gonna let Instagram comments and Twitter comments tell me who can and can't be my friends," O'Connell said. "I just wanted Ellen and Portia to know that I love them very much."
That being said, O'Connell stressed that he isn't discounting the multiple stories from past employees who claim some producers on the show acted inappropriately on set.
"Of course I believe all victims, I believe all stories, and obviously something has to change in that work environment," he said. "But I do love Portia and Ellen. I do. And it's gonna take a lot to change my love for them."
Last month, Warner Bros. Television sent an internal memo informing staffers 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, after one current and 10 former employees anonymously spoke with BuzzFeed News about their negative experiences working on the program.
In an internal letter sent to show staff, which was obtained by ET, DeGeneres apologized and affirmed that she was committed to "having conversations about fairness and justice."
Additionally, ET learned that a virtual staff meeting was held on Monday to update show employees on the current investigation into alleged workplace misconduct.
ET has been told there are staff who feel hopeful there will be positive change on the production side of the show and more involvement from Ellen herself. New episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show are slated to begin filming in September.
Meanwhile, as that drama unfolds, O'Connell is focusing his efforts and attention on his new comedy series Star Trek: Lower Decks, an animated sci-fi series that tells the previously untold stories of the support staff and crew members on one of Starfleet's less-than-revered ship, USS Cerritos.
For O'Connell, it means finally joining the Star Trek family after being, as he explained, "An in-law of the Trek universe," due to his wife, Rebecca Romijn, having a starring role in Star Trek: Discovery and the upcoming spin-off, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
"My wife is the Trekkie, the full-fledged Number-One-on-the-bridge-of-the-Enterprise Trek person. I've been sort of the plus one. I've been the invite," he shared. "So for me to get this shot on Lower Decks… is great. I got invited into the family!"
Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres Thursday, Aug. 6 on CBS All Access.