Ellen DeGeneres returned to the studio today for the 18th season of her award-winning show. Unsurprisingly, she took the opportunity to address accusations against the program directly. She presented in front of a virtual audience because of continuing COVID restrictions.
Several former members of the production team told Buzzfeed earlier in the summer of a supposed toxic work environment. Others were unhappy about the pay cuts they were forced to take when the studio recordings were canceled because of COVID.
In an opening monologue, published on YouTube ahead of the show’s transmission today, DeGeners begins by saying, ‘If you’re watching because you love me, thank you. If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome!’
She jokingly then asked people how their summer was, adding: ‘Mine was great! Super terrific!’
‘I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry’
She then gets more serious, saying she has been looking forward to addressing things.
‘Let’s get to it. As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show, and then there was an investigation.
‘I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.
‘This is the Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres.’
She says she and her team have had ‘a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about our show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter.’
Some of the changes DeGeneres will be referring to will be three senior producers being let go in recent weeks.
‘I thought the world needed more kindness’
‘There will also articles in the press and social media that said I am not who I appear to be on TV because I came to be known as the “Be kind” lady,’ she continued.
“Here’s how that happened. I began to say “Be kind” to one another after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life for being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever.
‘Being known as the “Be Kind” lady is a tricky position to be in, so let me give you some advice out there, if anybody is thinking about changing their title or giving themselves a nickname, don’t go with the ‘Be Kind’ lady. Don’t do it.
‘The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient, and I am working on all of that.
‘I am a work-in-progress, and I am especially working on the impatience thing, and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough, I’ll tell you that,” she joked.
‘My intention is always to be the best person I can be’
She says that despite having a background as an actress, ‘I don’t think I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me. And my intention is always to be the best person I can be. And if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that’s ever the case, I have let myself down and I have hurt myself as well because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn.”
She says she got into the business to make people ‘laugh and feel good,’ and is now the boss of 270 people who help make the show.
‘All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and proud to work here.’
‘Committed to making this the best season’
She then goes on to address how this summer has been a horrible one for so many people – caught between a pandemic, economic hardship, daily reminders of racial injustice, and, in some parts of the world, raging fires.
‘I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh. I want to continue to help the people we help every day. And I am committed to making this the best season we have ever had.’
After allegations about the show emerged, Warner Media launched an internal investigation. This resulted in three senior producers being axed. DeGeneres took today’s show as an opportunity to announce that resident DJ, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, has been promoted to the role of co-executive producer.