After a brutal summer in which she was routinely accused of fostering a toxic work environment, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be putting her talk show on hold until 2021.
In a brief statement on Thursday, the famed host said that she is carefully following all CDC guidelines in the wake of her positive test.
“Hi Everyone,” she said. “I want to let you all know that I tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, I’m feeling fine right now. Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines. I’ll see you all again after the holidays. Please stay healthy and safe. Love, Ellen.”
A spokesperson for Telepictures told Fox News on Thursday that production for “The Ellen Show” has been put on pause until January 2021.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2020
Like all talk show hosts, Ellen DeGeneres initially started broadcasting from home at the outset of the pandemic; she returned to the studio this past fall and only allowed up to 40 fans in the live studio audience in late October. The COVID-19 diagnosis likely could not have come at a worse time for Ellen, who has been slowly rebuilding her reputation after several former employees accused her of either fostering or turning a blind eye to what they alleged was a toxic work environment.
In late July, a BuzzFeed News article claimed that several former employees witnessed head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman sexually propositioning or groping lower-level employees.
“One ex-employee said head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman asked him if he could give him a handjob or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. Another said they separately saw Leman grab a production assistant’s penis,” BuzzFeed reported. “In May 2017, another former employee also said she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck.”
“Nearly a dozen former employees, who range from longtime, senior-level employees to production assistants, said it was also common for Leman to make sexually explicit comments in the office, like pointing out male colleagues’ bulges in their crotches, or ask them questions like, ‘Are you a top or a bottom?’” the report continued.
A former employee said that Kevin’s comments were often “masked in sarcasm” to soften their delivery.
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that,” a former employee said.
Kevin Leman has denied the accusations outright.
A total of 47 former employees also accused executive producer Ed Glavin of fostering a culture of fear and intimidation on a daily basis. Some even said he would use his private shower in his office bathroom with the door wide open.
“You’d be going into his office for an important meeting and the shower door is open and you’re like, that’s a little weird,” a former employee said. “The shower is right when you walk in on the right. Before you even see his desk, you see his shower. He’d be openly showering and going into meetings with wet hair.”
Another former employee also accused co-executive producer Jonathan Norman of grooming him over a period of time by “taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him.”
“We’re young people who were forming our careers and were unfortunately subjected to a toxic work environment as some of our first jobs out of college,” the former employee said. “And some of us were sexually harassed and that’s what was shaping our careers our first year out of school.”
Upon her return, Ellen apologized and took “full responsibility” for what allegedly happened.
“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should have happened,” she began. “I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power and I realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
“This is ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show.’ I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear,” she continued. “We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter.”