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More Trouble At Ellen DeGeneres Show

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Dozens of former “Ellen DeGeneres Show” employees accused multiple executive producers of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault in a Buzzfeed News report published Thursday night, hours after Ellen DeGeneres apologized as an ongoing internal investigation into toxic workplace allegations revealed “deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management.” 

77th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals
Ellen DeGeneres attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in January. FILMMAGIC

Nearly a dozen former employees accused head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman of sexual misconduct, including groping, making sexually explicit comments and behaving inappropriately at a company party, while Leman said he denied “any kind of sexual impropriety.”

Multiple former employees accused executive producer Ed Glavin of “being handsy with women” and leading the team by creating a culture of fear and intimidation, though Glavin did not comment on the allegations.

In all, 36 former employees independently corroborated incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault by top producers. 

On Monday, Variety reported that Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia and a third-party firm are conducting an internal investigation into the working conditions at the show and would interview current and former employees. 

Warner Bros. didn’t comment on the sexual misconduct allegations, citing the current investigation, but said in an earlier statement Thursday that the primary findings indicated some “deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management” resulting in staffing changes and other “appropriate measures” to address the issues. 

DeGeneres has not yet commented on the sexual misconduct allegations, but reportedly sent an internal memo Thursday acknowledging that the culture doesn’t match the expectations she set when she started the show 17 years ago.

“My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros., we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again,” DeGeneres said in the internal memo obtained by Variety.

DeGeneres’ apology comes after one current and 10 former employees told BuzzFeed about incidents of racism and intimidation on set. The employees did not directly implicate DeGeneres, and the show’s executive producers said in a statement the allegations are “not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us,” adding, “for the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us.” There have been other controversies regarding DeGeneres and her show in recent months. Comedian Kevin T. Porter posted a tweet in March asking people to share instances of DeGeneres being “mean” and got more than 2,700 responses. Variety reported in April that employees were “distressed and outraged” because they said there was a lack of transparency about how the pandemic would affect their pay and hours. Forbes estimates the show brings in over $35 million to Warner Bros. each year and more than $50 million to DeGeneres. 

DeGeneres was criticized in April after she compared her quarantine at home to being in jail during a show taped from her home. Covid-19 has posed a problem for crowded jails and prisons as many incarcerated people have gotten sick. The Covid-19 case rate for prisoners was 5.5 times higher than the U.S. population case rate in early June, according to a July study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association

$300 million. Forbes estimated that DeGeneres’ net worth was that much last year when she appeared on the 2019 America’s Richest Self-Made Women list. The cutoff was $225 million and 80 women made the list, DeGeneres was ranked number 63.