Ellen DeGeneres' older brother, comedian and producer Vance DeGeneres, has come out in defense of his sister following a scathing report painting her daytime talk show as a toxic work environment.
"Ok, I need to say something," Vance DeGeneres, 65, wrote on Facebook Tuesday. "My sister is being viciously attacked. … I'm sick and tired of my sister being attacked. She always has — and always will — stand against bullying of any kind. She's a smart, strong woman who has made a positive difference in the world. And to my friends who did respond with support for Ellen and my family, thank you so much. It means a lot."
He added that after having posted the statement "I stand by Ellen," he found that "only a handful of my Facebook 'friends' responded to it. If you don't support Ellen, then you don't support me, so please unfriend me."
Shortly afterward, he tweeted, "If you think Ellen would knowingly allow bullying or racism on her show, you don't know my sister. She has been and continues to be a bright light in a dark world. She's one of the kindest, most generous people you'll ever meet. And one of the funniest."
Nonetheless, the show's former DJ, Tony Okungbowa, now in the cast of CBS' "Bob Hearts Abishola," said he agreed with the one current and 10 former "Ellen" employees who in a BuzzFeed report on July 16 described an environment of fear, retribution and racist undercurrents, all at odds with DeGeneres' reputation for niceness.
"I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there," Okungbowa, who is in his early 50s, wrote on his social media Tuesday before Vance DeGeneres commented publicly. "I was on air talent from 2003-2006 and from 2007 -2013. While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward."
Actor Brad Garrett on July 31 had similarly tweeted, "Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow Know more than one who were treated horribly by her." Actress Lea Thompson, commenting on a People magazine tweet about Garrett, agreed, "True story. It is." Ellen DeGeneres' wife, former actress Portia de Rossi, on Monday defended her spouse in response to the trending hashtag #ReplaceEllen."
DeGeneres, 62, sent a memo last week apologizing to staff; and WarnerMedia, parent company of the "Ellen" production company, launched an investigation into the show's workplace practices.