Ellen on the phone with Michelle ObamaPhoto: Screenshot/Instagram
Ellen DeGeneres’s long-running daytime talk show will be coming to an end.
“I became a comedian because I wanted to make people feel good,” Ellen told The Hollywood Reporter, discussing the many controversies she faced this past year. She said the media coverage was “very hurtful to me” but it isn’t the reason she’s quitting her show.
Related: Ellen DeGeneres apologizes to staff as multiple gay sexual abuse allegations surface
“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” she said.
Ellen said that her staff has already been informed that her show will continue through its 19th season, which will start later this year. After that, she’s signing off for good.
The decision to end her show follows a year of negative coverage in the press, including dozens of former staffers who said that her show as a toxic workplace. Several senior producers were accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.
DeGeneres promised an investigation and several producers were fired. She apologized to her staff and said that changes were implemented.
At the start of the show’s 18th season this past September, DeGeneres discussed the allegations on her show and said that she is trying to do better.
“We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter,” she said at the time. But the damage was done, and her enormously successful show took a huge knock in ratings, losing 43% of viewers in just a year.
Ellen denies that the accusations are the reason the show is ending.
“It almost impacted the show. It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very,” she said. “But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season.”
“So, it’s not why I’m stopping but it was hard because I was sitting at home, it was summer, and I see a story that people have to chew gum before they talk to me and I’m like, ‘Okay, this is hilarious.’ Then I see another story of some other ridiculous thing and then it just didn’t stop. And I wasn’t working, so I had no platform, and I didn’t want to address it on [Twitter] and I thought if I just don’t address it, it’s going to go away because it was all so stupid.”
“I became a comedian because I wanted to make people feel good,” she continued. “It started when I was 13-years-old, when my parents got divorced, and I wanted to make my mother happy. My whole being is about making people happy.”
“And with the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion and everything I stand for was being attacked. So, it destroyed me, honestly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. And it makes me really sad that there’s so much joy out there from negativity. It’s a culture now where there are just mean people, and it’s so foreign to me that people get joy out of that.”
Ellen said that she learned about the toxic workplace allegations through the press and she took them seriously but also said that the “culture we’re living” in is one where “no one can make mistakes.”
“When I came out [in 1997] and was so publicly attacked during that time, it also really destroyed me, but then I got stronger and I learned and grew from it,” she said, referring to the controversy that erupted after she came out and that got her hit sitcom canceled. “But people always say you have to have thick skin to be in this business and I’ve never gotten that. I have very thin skin and things affect me, and I’m proud of that. Like, I love that I’m emotional and I still care what people think and say about me, to a degree.”
Ellen will discuss the end of her talk show with Oprah Winfrey tomorrow.
“Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” said Warner Bros. Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell. “Ellen was and is an indelible piece of the television landscape, and it will be sorely missed.”
In a 2018 New York Times interview, Ellen talked about how she was getting bored with the show’s format after so many years.
“The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host,” she said. “There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”
She said that she didn’t feel like she could tell the jokes she wanted to on the show because viewers expected her to just be nice and dance.
“There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like: ‘You’re not dancing!’” she said. “Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
Ellen got signed in 2019 to do the show for three more years.