'Ellen Show' plagued by abuse claims: here's what you need to know

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Her show is under a cloud after allegations of racism and sexual abuse were made against senior staff.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Her show is under a cloud after allegations of racism and sexual abuse were made against senior staff.
Image: Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

There is uncertainty about the future of the Ellen DeGeneres Show as allegations against senior staff continue to emerge from former staff members. 

This is what you need to know:

Allegations

BuzzFeed reported in mid-July that one current and 10 former employees spoke on condition of anonymity and recounted their alleged experiences of abuse behind the scenes of the show. 

A black employee told the publication that a white senior colleague made racist comments to her and another black woman. The person allegedly said to them, “oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused”.

She also alleged that another colleague told her during a work party, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of white people who work here.” She said their colleagues “awkwardly laughed it off”, instead of calling them out for their comments.

In a second expose by the publication, more people spoke out, bringing the total to 47.

Top producers, Kevin Leman, Jonathan Norman and Ed Glavin were implicated in sexual misconduct allegations. A former employee said Leman asked if he could perform sex acts on him during a company party in 2013. Another said they allegedly saw him grab a production assistant’s penis.

Scores of other employees accused Glavin of touching them inappropriately. Others said he had a reputation of being “handsy with women”. They said Glavin made them uncomfortable in the show’s control room but they did not speak out because they feared that they risked getting fired.

A former employee accused Norman of “grooming him” by taking him to concerts before attempting to perform oral sex on him. 

Denials 

Both Leman and Norman denied all allegations against them. In a statement, Leman said “I'm horrified that some of my attempts at humour may have caused offence. I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect.”

Norman said “I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”

Does Ellen know?

Ellen has not been directly implicated in any wrongdoing but former employees say she has chosen to turn a blind eye to what happens behind the scenes. One former employee said “she knows sh*t goes on, but also she doesn't want to hear it”. 

Another said Ellen “doesn't want to know” what happens and no-one “wants to rock the boat” by speaking up.

Ellen speaks out 

Ellen broke her silence on Friday and issued an apology to staff via a letter.

“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that the Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness. Obviously, something changed, and I'm disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I'm sorry.”

Is this the end? 

Andy Lassner, executive producer of the show, responded to a Twitter user who asked if the Ellen Show would be canned after the allegations against its top producers.

A Twitter thread that put the spotlight on Ellen 

In March, comedian Kevin Porter started a Twitter thread asking people to share stories of their experiences or stories they heard about Ellen being “mean” and “unkind”. Thousands flocked the comments to share their stories.


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