In a 'Rolling Stone' exposé, staffers call Clarkson 'fantastic' but criticize the show's work environment.
A number of producers on The Kelly Clarkson Show are being accused of creating a toxic work environment, according to an exposé published by Rolling Stone on Friday. The outlet reports that it spoke with one current and 10 former employees at the NBC daytime series, all anonymous, but described by Rolling Stone as "veterans in the entertainment industry."
For her part, show host Kelly Clarkson is described as "fantastic."
"Kelly has no clue how unhappy her staff is," one former employee told Rolling Stone. Among the allegations lobbied against the production, the employees told the mag that they were overworked, underpaid, and that their mental health suffered as a result of working on the show.
"Kelly is fantastic. She is a person who never treats anyone with anything but dignity and is incredibly appreciative," another former employee told the outlet. "I would be shocked if she knew. I'd be floored if she knew the staff wasn't getting paid for two weeks of Christmas hiatus. The Kelly that I interacted with and that everyone knows would probably be pretty aghast to learn that."
Another staffer said that despite working on a number of different sets in the entertainment industry, their experience with The Kelly Clarkson Show "is by far the worst experience I've ever had in my entire life," claiming that it "deterred me from wanting to work in daytime ever again" and that the job left them "traumatized."
"This job deteriorated my mental health," another employee told Rolling Stone.
Several employees said that their complaints had been filed with human resources, including during exit interviews, but that no action appeared to have been taken. One former employee alleged, "There's a culture of nonaccountability for some people, and that needs to change."
However, not all employees of The Kelly Clarkson Show label the show's working environment "toxic." A staffer tells ET, "The Rolling Stone article was a surprise. Kelly is a fast-paced production and isn't without stress, but nothing about the environment rises to being labeled toxic. The show is still paying us although we had to shut down early because of the writers' strike. Also, they're finding a way for staff to stay in L.A. to work on the show even though the show will shoot in New York next season."
Meanwhile, another source tells ET of Clarkson, "She was completely shielded by the executive producers from everything."
After the article was published, a spokesperson for NBCU told ET in a statement, "We are committed to a safe and respectful work environment and take workplace complaints very seriously and to insinuate otherwise is untrue. When issues are reported they are promptly reviewed, investigated and acted upon as appropriate. The Kelly Clarkson Show strives to build a safe, respectful and equitable workplace that nurtures a culture of inclusivity and creativity."
ET has reached out to Clarkson for comment. Rolling Stone notes that neither NBC or Clarkson responded to separate requests for comment on its story.
The writer of the Rolling Stone report is Krystie Lee Yandoli, the same writer who broke the BuzzFeed News story on multiple employees from The Ellen DeGeneres Show alleging that the popular daytime talk show had a "toxic work culture." The report prompted an investigation by WarnerMedia in 2020 and the exit of three top producers from the show before the show ended last May.
ET spoke to Yandoli, who shared that the employees she spoke to had nothing bad to say about the way Clarkson treated them.
"So the employees who I spoke to, who did work closely with Kelly, said that she's lovely," Yandoli said. "She's great. They don't have anything bad to say about Kelly herself, although a lot of people also said that Kelly is pretty insulated by her inner circle and the executive producers, which isn't entirely uncommon on a talk show, to be fair."
"I think what most people had to say -- and this was the common denominator with the 11 people I spoke to -- is that they are not happy that in 2023 the culture behind the scenes of daytime television that has existed for decades, you know, according to people who are veterans of the industry, is still being perpetuated under the guise of, this is television," she continued. "This is daytime. It's a stressful environment, and they don't appreciate that they've gone to HR. They've tried to make changes internally, and no they haven't seen any change."
Rolling Stone's piece comes on the heels of news that production on The Kelly Clarkson Show is set to move to New York City this fall, setting up shop at NBC Studios in Manhattan's 30 Rockefeller Center. Clarkson's show will film in Studio 6A with a live studio audience.
The news marks a major move for Clarkson and the syndicated talk show, which was renewed through 2025 back in November. Currently in its fourth season, The Kelly Clarkson Show opened its last two seasons with special week-long stints out of New York City. "She's ready for the move and excited for a new change," a source told ET at the time of the announcement.
ET has learned that contract negotiations for the new season of The Kelly Clarkson Show are currently being negotiated with staffers, ahead of the show's big move to NYC. According to a source, not everyone on staff will be relocating to New York, many will still have a job in Los Angeles.
"Contract negotiations always have everyone on high alert especially since the show is making its way to NYC. Currently, staff are weighing options of moving or no longer being with the show," the source says. "Some are willing to relocate, while others aren’t, so tensions are high, and everyone feels their fate hangs in the balance, coupled with the current writers' strike, it leaves many feeling like their livelihoods are in question which can cause people to act all sorts of ways. But for now, most are lying low and looking ahead towards a new future for the show."
The Kelly Clarkson Show premiered Sept. 9, 2019 and will have aired 720 episodes by the end of its current season. The daytime talk show became an early success story and ahead of season 4, officially took over the time slot previously held by The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
It is also known for its popular "Kellyoke" segments that kick off each episode, where Clarkson performs covers of popular songs as requested by fans. In June 2022, Clarkson released the six-track Kellyoke EP featuring her renditions of songs by Billie Eilish, Roy Orbison, Whitney Houston and The Weeknd.
The Kelly Clarkson Show has won 13 Daytime Emmys thus far, including three for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host for Clarkson (2020 to 2022) and two for Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment (2021 to 2022). It is nominated for 11 Daytime Emmys this year, including Outstanding Daytime Talk Series Host and Outstanding Talk Series.