Following a scathing report in which present and former staffers of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" accused producers of creating a toxic work environment, the daytime talk show's parent company has launched an internal investigation.
The trade magazine Variety reports that executives from Warner Bros. Television and its subsidiary Telepictures last week circulated a memo to "Ellen" employees saying corporate parent WarnerMedia and an outside firm would speak with current and former staffers to learn of their workplace experiences on the show.
The memo, said Variety, came from Telepictures executive vice president Donna Redier Linsk and WBTV vice president of human resources Donna Hancock Husband.
A spokeswoman for the long-running show declined to comment. Representatives for WBTV and Telepictures did not respond to a Newsday request for comment, and host DeGeneres, 62, has not spoken publicly about either the original report or the investigation.
In an article based on interviews with one current and 10 former employees of the show, BuzzFeed News in a July 16 article described an environment of fear, retribution and racist undercurrents, all at odds with DeGeneres' reputation for niceness. The anonymous staffers said that some employees were terminated after taking time off for medical or bereavement reasons, issues could not be brought up to hostile and capricious managers, and that they were forbidden to speak with DeGeneres herself.
One African-American former employee described racist comments, such as one of the main writers telling her, "I'm sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here."
Executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner responded in a statement to BuzzFeed, saying in part, "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. For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and … are committed to do better, and we will do better."