Is her series over? Fans are wondering whether Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show could be on the chopping block after staffers came forward with allegations of racism against some members of the production team for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The TV host and her crew faced major backlash following accusations that the “‘be kind’ bulls–t only happens when the cameras are on.”
While it’s not clear yet whether there will be repercussions from NBC, executive producer Andy Lassner shared a hint at the show’s future fate while talking with a fan via Twitter on July 30. “Nobody is going off the air,” he insisted.
Despite the scandal, Ellen remains one of the most popular talk shows around, and it’s pretty lucrative, too. According to Forbes, the series makes over $35 million in profit for Warner Bros. each year, as well as more than $50 million for DeGeneres herself. SQAD — an advertising, research, analytics and planning company — says buying a 30-second national commercial during the show cost advertisers $51,570 during the fourth quarter of 2019. Compare that to $34k for a spot on Dr. Phil and about $19k for Live! With Kelly and Ryan and you can see why the network would be hesitant to let it go.
This also isn’t the first time DeGeneres, 62, has faced claims that her whole “be kind” schtick doesn’t continue off camera. In March, comedian and “Gilmore Guys” podcast host Kevin T. Porter even hosted a fundraiser on Twitter for the L.A. Regional Food Bank as he pledged to donate $2 for every story shared in the replies about the TV host allegedly being mean to fans, staffers and celebrities alike. After two days, he ended up donating a grand total of $600.
The most recent accusations, reported in July by BuzzFeed News, share similar tales from anonymous Ellen employees. Though they don’t take aim at the host herself and instead chronicle incidents involving other production team members, the claims include show staffers being fired for taking medical or bereavement leave, employees being instructed not to speak to DeGeneres directly and other workers quitting over racist comments. The complaints come at a moment when many in Hollywood are speaking out about their unfair and discriminatory treatment both on camera and off, and series like Vanderpump Rules and Dance Moms are firing their biggest stars.
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner told BuzzFeed News they take the allegations “very seriously” in a joint statement. “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 shared. “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.”
One week after the allegations were brought to light, DeGeneres broke her silence. “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect,” DeGeneres wrote in a letter to her staff, which was obtained by Us Weekly. “Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”