Ellen DeGeneres, star of the popular self-titled afternoon talk show, has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks following anonymous allegations from employees of a “toxic” work environment that included claims of racial insensitivity and sexual harassment.
Those accusations prompted an internal investigation by Warner Bros. and have now resulted in the termination of three senior executive producers from the show, as Variety reported exclusively on Monday.
Those three senior members of the production team included executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman along with co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
Variety noted that veteran production team members Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner, and Derek Westervelt — all of whom have been with the show since its inception in 2003 — will all stay on as executive producers while DeGeneres will continue as the eponymous host.
Toxic environment alleged
The scandal involving the producers at The Ellen DeGeneres Show first broke in mid-July and then expanded a few weeks later with the publication of a pair of explosive articles in BuzzFeed News, the first of which involved dozens of show employees speaking out anonymously about the “racism, fear, and intimidation” they faced on a routine basis from their bosses.
The follow-up article provided even more detail on what the employees regularly faced, including specific allegations from female employees who complained that they were touched inappropriately by Glavin and were subjected to intimidation tactics.
Meanwhile, Leman stood accused of making unwanted personal advances and sexually explicit comments toward male employees on numerous occasions over the years.
For what it is worth, BuzzFeed noted that Leman flatly denied the allegations against him, while Glavin declined to offer any sort of public comment. That said, the outlet also noted that many of the employees felt “optimistic and hopeful” about the future of the program following a teleconference call on Monday in which DeGeneres addressed the staff herself to announce the changes in leadership.
More fallout to come?
Variety further noted that an attorney for Leman issued a statement following his client’s termination which suggested that Leman had been unfairly blamed and made a scapegoat for all of the alleged problems behind the scenes on the show.
“The fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man — a popular figure and a creative force behind the ‘Ellen’ show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen — is shocking,” attorney Michael Plonsker said. “Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment.”
As for DeGeneres herself, she reportedly acknowledged that she was “not perfect” and that all had not been well with regard to the way that employees were treated by the production team, and she vowed to make changes going forward, such as participating in diversity and inclusion workshops along with everyone else.
It will be interesting to see if the firing of these three producers from DeGeneres’ show will satiate the “cancel culture” that has set its sights on the long-running program or if the demands for blood will continue, up to and including even DeGeneres herself.