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Culture

Is Ellen DeGeneres's Persona A Complete Fraud? Her Employees Say Yes

By Meghan Dillon·· 6 min read
Is Ellen DeGeneres's Persona A Complete Fraud? Her Employees Say Yes

If you’ve ever seen an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” you know that host Ellen DeGeneres is known for her family-friendly humor and good heart. Her show’s slogan is “be kind” but recent allegations show that Ellen doesn’t follow her own golden rule.

Rumors have been circulating that not only does Ellen not live up to her mantra of kindness, but also that the show is a “toxic work environment.” Executive producers behind the show have also been accused of being cruel to staffers. What makes the story confusing is that, despite all of these allegations, many prominent celebrities are still backing Ellen.

Here’s everything you need to know about the scandal.

Past Allegations against Ellen

This isn’t the first time that Ellen has been accused of not living up to her standards of kindness. Comedian Kathy Griffin was the first to expose Ellen’s alleged hypocrisy. In her 2016 book, Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index, she wrote about a run-in with a "beloved daytime talk show host with short blonde hair and a mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about." She later admitted that the story was about Ellen.

Comedian Kathy Griffin claims Ellen has a "mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about."

Kathy Griffin told The Hollywood Reporter, "The only angry call I got was from Ellen DeGeneres, which is, by the way, not fun to get when you’re like, a female comic who loves her and her accomplishments. She was extremely upset, and I think she had a thought that she was going to, like, put me in my place, or whatever, but as you know I’m not shut-uppable. We kind of got into it, and I'm not going to lie, after I hung up, I sobbed like a baby.”

Dutch beauty vlogger Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials on YouTube, had an uncomfortable experience on Ellen’s show in January 2020. Nikkie described her experience to a Dutch publication called &C Magazine. She said, "Maybe I'm being naive, but I expected them to welcome me with confetti: 'Welcome to The Ellen DeGeneres Show!' But instead I got greeted by an angry intern, who was a bit overworked. I expected a Disney show, but I got a 'Teletubbies' after dark.”

“Toxic Work Environment” Allegations

Buzzfeed News recently interviewed 10 former employees and one current employee of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to help expose what was really going on behind the scenes. They describe a “toxic work environment” where executive producers treat employees like dirt. One former employee claims they were fired for taking a medical leave after checking into a mental health facility after attempting suicide. The employee’s story was confirmed by colleagues as well as by medical records.

The former employee says, “You'd think that if someone just tried to kill themselves, you don’t want to add any more stress to their lives. Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma. They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra."

One former employee claims they were fired for taking a medical leave after attempting suicide.

Another former employee alleges that they were fired after having to take time off from work for medical and family emergencies, including taking a medical leave after a car accident and having to travel to attend family funerals. The former employee accused the executive producers of gaslighting by making light of their struggles. They said, “That’s the definition of a toxic work environment, where they make you feel like you’re going insane and then you’re like, no, everything I was feeling was right. It was all leading up to this.”

Though these claims are against executive producers and not Ellen herself, employees still believe that Ellen should be held accountable for their behavior. Another former employee said, “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. 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.”

The majority of the reports come from anonymous former employees who place the blame on executive producers, but some are going directly for the so-called Queen of Kindness herself. Hedda Muskat was a producer on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” when it first premiered in 2003. She claims things were bad from the beginning, telling The Wrap, “I had never been around a toxic host.”

What Are Other Celebrities Saying?

The reactions to this scandal in Hollywood are mixed. Some celebrities have sided with the producers. Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond, who worked with Ellen on Finding Nemo, tweeted that Ellen’s poor treatment of employees was “common knowledge.”

On the contrary, more celebrities are standing by Ellen. Some of the most notable celebrities are Ellen’s wife Portia de Rossi, Katy Perry, Scooter Braun, and Ashton Kutcher. Kevin Hart was also quick to defend Ellen after she defended him after Twitter fans tried to “cancel” him for politically incorrect jokes. In an Instagram post, he wrote, "I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she's one of the dopest people on the f------ planet. She has treated my family and team with love and respect from day 1. The internet has become a crazy world of negativity... we are falling in love with peoples down fall.”

What’s Next?

Shortly after the Buzzfeed News story went viral, Ellen apologized to her staff via email. In part, she wrote, "On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show."

"On day one of our show, I told everyone that 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' would be a place of happiness."

An internal investigation was launched to look into what truly goes on behind the scenes at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to ensure that the staffers live up to the values of the show. Despite rumors that Ellen will be replaced by James Corden, it has been reported that Ellen will continue hosting the show when the new season begins in September.

Closing Thoughts

What makes this story so confusing is that, despite so many allegations against Ellen, many prominent celebrities are still standing by her. This raises the question as to whether or not this is another case of cancel culture or another loved celebrity falling from grace. Only time will tell which narrative is true.

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