As the fallout around Ellen DeGeneres and her talk show continues, 36 former employees spoke out about alleged incidents of harassment, sexual misconduct and assault involving top producers.
A BuzzFeed News story published on Thursday, July 30, includes allegations that head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman made sexual advances on an ex-staffer at a company party, grabbed a production assistant’s penis and groped another PA in a car in addition to making inappropriate comments at the office. Leman denied “any kind of sexual impropriety” and said he does not believe he has ever had “a single HR or inter-personal complaint made” about him in his 17 years working on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The report also claimed that executive producer Ed Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” and 47 former employees told the website that he managed the team through fear and intimidation on a daily basis. Glavin did not publicly respond to the claims; Variety reported earlier on Thursday that he is set to exit his role imminently.
Another former staff member alleged that co-executive producer Jonathan Norman groomed him and attempted to perform oral sex on him. Norman denied the allegations, saying, “I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever.” He also accused the staffer of having “ulterior motives for bringing down the show.”
Some of the accusers told BuzzFeed News that they do not think DeGeneres, 62, is aware of what goes on behind-the-scenes at her Emmy-winning series, while others suggested she turns a blind eye.
“She knows,” one former employee said. “She knows s–t goes on, but also she doesn’t want to hear it.”
Warner Bros. acknowledged in a statement to the site that the “preliminary findings” of its recently launched internal investigation “indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management.” The studio also said that it “hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture.”
DeGeneres and her producers have been under fire since March when allegations about their behavior first came to light. A previous BuzzFeed News report published on July 16 claimed the talk show is a “toxic work environment” with rampant racism and intimidation.
The stand-up comedian addressed the reports for the first time in a letter to her staff on Thursday, writing in part, “I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.”
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