DeGeneres vows candor as clouded talk show charts its return

Entertainment
Ellen Degeneres

FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2016, file photo, Ellen DeGeneres appears during a commercial break at a taping of “The Ellen Show” in Burbank, Calif. A state legislator wants an audit of the California Lottery to look into a whistleblower complaint about more than $212,000 worth of scratchers tickets that were given to the DeGeneres’ TV show for audience gifts. The Los Angeles Times reports, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, the lottery viewed the contribution as a publicity boon but the complaint filed by some lottery employees contends the giveaway was a “misuse of funds.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ellen DeGeneres says she’ll be ready to talk when her daytime show returns this month after a staff shake-up prompted by allegations of a toxic workplace.

“I can’t wait to get back to work and back to our studio. And, yes, we’re gonna talk about it,” DeGeneres said in a statement announcing the show’s Sept. 21 start of its 18th season.

Tiffany Haddish will join DeGeneres for the kick-off episode, with “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to be taped at Warner Bros. minus an in-studio audience, which is commonplace during the pandemic.

The first month’s list of high-profile guests reads like a a rebuttal to questions about how DeGeneres and her show are perceived in the industry amid the controversy that cut against the host’s kindly image.

Kerry Washington, Alec Baldwin and Chrissy Teigen are set for the first week, with Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Adam Sandler and Orlando Bloom appearing later in September, the show said.

Stephen “tWitch” Boss, a longtime guest DJ on the show and among those who have publicly supported DeGeneres, will guest host some fall episodes.

Last month, three of the show’s producers exited amid allegations of a dysfunctional workplace that harbored misbehavior including sexual misconduct and racially insensitive remarks.

An internal company investigation of work conditions was prompted by a BuzzFeed News report in July based on 36 interviews with ex-staffers, who complained about or said they witnessed improper and unfair treatment. The people making the claims were not identified.

When DeGeneres told staffers of the changes in a video conference call, she reportedly said she found claims about the show’s environment to be “heartbreaking.”

The comedian and host had sent a memo to her staff after the BuzzFeed report, recalling her early promise of ensuring a workplace where “everyone would be treated with respect.” Something changed, she said, “and for that, I am sorry.”

In a July statement, Warner Bros. said parent company WarnerMedia’s investigation revealed what it called “some flaws in the show’s daily management.”

Although not all of the allegations were corroborated, the studio said it was “disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management.”

No details were specified at the time, and Warner Bros. had no further comment last month beyond confirming the producers’ departures.

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