Ellen DeGeneres makes on-air apology, vows a 'new chapter'
Published Monday, September 21, 2020 10:52AM EDT Last Updated Monday, September 21, 2020 8:19PM EDT
Ellen Degeneres during a commercial break at a taping of 'The Ellen Show' in Burbank, on Oct. 13, 2016. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
NEW YORK -- Ellen DeGeneres used her opening monologue of the new season of her daytime talk show to address allegations of a toxic work environment, apologizing for things "that never should have happened."
"I 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," she said in a video posted Monday.
DeGeneres smiled frequently but appeared strained during her remarks. She included several quips that lightened the tone but didn't match the seriousness of the allegations.
"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" started its 18th season in Los Angeles with the host on stage for the first time in months after taping from DeGeneres's home during quarantine. There wasn't a studio audience but a virtual one, with faces beamed in on monitors put in the audience seats.
"We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future," she said. "We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter."
Three of the show's producers exited over the summer amid allegations of a dysfunctional workplace that harbouredmisbehaviour, including sexual misconduct and racially insensitive remarks. In her monologue, DeGeneres dryly joked that her summer was "super-terrific."
The host also addressed the allegations that the off-camera DeGeneres is very different than her sunny on-air persona. "The truth is I am that person that you see on TV," she said.
"I am also a lot of other things," she said. "I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that."
The comedian, who is gay, noted that she's played a straight woman on screen and considers herself "a pretty good actress," but not good enough to "come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me."
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.
"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people that were affected," DeGeneres said in her monologue. She was joined later by guest Tiffany Haddish.
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."