On Tuesday night, when late-night host Jimmy Kimmel conducted the first major public interview with Ellen DeGeneres since claims of “toxic behavior” in the workplace of her show were aired last year, he didn’t bother asking her about any of the claims, prompting criticism of him for “covering” for her.
The Daily Beast noted:
For it to not even come up reveals just how much celebrities tend to give their celebrity friends cover when low-level staffers suffer abuse. And it also raises the question of whether DeGeneres only agreed to the appearance under the condition that her scandal would be ignored—or if she just knew it would be.
In July 2020, one employee and 10 former employees of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” came forward with accusations that the atmosphere of the show behind the scenes was far from the show’s motto, “Be Kind.”
The employees spoke to Buzzfeed News, which delineated various charges that were made. One former employee asserted, “That ‘be kind’ bulls*** only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.” Another bitter comment, “I think it is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the show’s brand. They pull on people’s heartstrings; they do know that’s going to get likes and what people are going to go for, which is a positive message. But that’s not always reality.”
Some of the accusations included insensitive comments about race, being fired after returning from a month-long absence at a mental health facility, and receiving a warning after creating and publicizing a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs that weren’t covered by the show’s health insurance.
At the end of July, Buzzfeed News reported, “According to dozens of men and women who work behind the scenes, the office is a place where sexual harassment and misconduct by top executive producers runs rampant.”
“The claims cost DeGeneres 1.1 million viewers who stopped watching the show over the last year, according to Nielsen data released in March. Her viewership was up to 2.6 million at one point but is now down to 1.5 million viewers,” The Daily Mail reported.
Last August, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman were let go.
In September, after months of taping her show from her home during quarantine, DeGeneres appeared on stage for her show, stating:
We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter. … I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.
On Tuesday, after Kimmel and DeGeneres joked about smoking “wacky-tobacky” and “played a quick round of ‘Who’s High?’ with pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard,” as the Daily Beast noted, they discussed an incident in which DeGeneres, who was stoned, drove Portia de Rossi to the emergency room for an appendectomy while very stoned. Then Kimmel segued to DeGeneres’ new show, HBO Max’s furniture show “Ellen’s Next Great Designer.” Kimmel commented, “I love shows where the people can do something, you know, because a lot of these shows the people just kind of walk around and talk to each other.”
“And make out,” DeGeneres interjected.
Kimmel continued, “And make out. Have you ever built anything?”
“No,” DeGeneres answered. “I’ve never built anything. I just buy things that are built.”
After turning to her documentary “Endangered” that is airing the same day as the HBO show, Kimmel asked, “You play a game on your show from time to time that you’ve brought to us, actually, and this is a game that tests — people are often surprised, like if I’ll come home from work, and there’s somebody at my house, they’ll say, ‘Who jabbed on the show tonight?’ I’ll go, ‘I don’t know. I don’t remember.’”
DeGeneres said she had also come home and not remembered who had been on her show, adding that the game entailed being asked on her show, “Did Ellen do this?”
Kimmel then posed questions such as, “Did you jump in a ball pit with Britney Spears?” “Did you throw meatballs at the audience with a supermodel?” “Did you ride a tandem bike with Steve Martin?”
DeGeneres asked Kimmel, “Did you ever surprise a guest—oh my God!—did you ever surprise a guest by showing him or her your penis on air?”