The Ellen DeGeneres Show‘s workplace environment is a subject of an inquiry launched by Warner Bros. TV Group, which includes the show’s producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. TV Distribution, and its parent WarnerMedia, sources confirm to Deadline.
As revealed in an internal memo sent out last week, WarnerMedia has retained an outside consultant to interview current and former Ellen employees about their experience working on the popular daytime syndicated talk show. Reps for Warner Bros. declined comment.
The investigation, first reported by Variety, follows a recent BuzzFeed report alleging a toxic work culture based on anonymous testimonials by one current and 10 former employees, according to the publication, who said they faced racism, bullying and intimidation. It was the latest in a string of negative stories about the show and host Ellen DeGeneres published over the past six months.
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The BuzzFeed investigation detailed incidents in which the staffers said they were sidelined, disciplined or fired for speaking up about discrimination, taking a mental health leave or attending family funerals, among other things. The allegations ranged from racist microagressions, to jokes about mistaking two Black female employees with the same hairstyle. One former employee said she left her job after she was called into a meeting with executive producer Ed Glavin, where she was reprimanded for her objections to the term “spirit animal,” asking for a raise, and suggesting employees on the show receive diversity and inclusion training. The employee said Glavin told her she “was walking around looking resentful and angry.”
Glavin and fellow executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner addressed the allegations in a joint statement to BuzzFeed, saying they take the employees’ stories “very seriously.”
“Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” they said in the statement. “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.
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.”
The top-rated Ellen DeGeneres Show, which wrapped its 17th season, has been renewed through 2022.
Denise Petski contributed to this report.
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