Ellen DeGeneres on Toxic Workplace Allegations: 'We Are Starting a New Chapter' (VIDEO)
New season, "new chapter" of The Ellen DeGeneres Show?
That's what the talk show host said in her opening monologue for Season 18 on Monday, September 21. "As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation," Ellen DeGeneres said early on as she returned to studio (with a virtual audience). "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened.
"I take that very seriously, and I want to say I'm so sorry to the people who were affected. 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 continued, pointing out her name is everywhere around the studio. "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."
Following the allegations of misconduct and a toxic work environment, including racist comments and employees fired for taking medical leave or days off to attend funerals, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman were fired. The show's DJ, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, was named a co-executive producer, a change DeGeneres and her longtime colleague announce near the end of the monologue.
"The summer was a little crazy. It was intense. During that time, there's been a lot of learning, a lot of discussions, a lot of listening," tWitch said. "You and I have had numerous discussions, and for me, I'm just so excited to be back here in the studio so we can do what we do best, which is bring laughter, love, and fun, and also lead by example by putting our best foot forward after a bounce back. It's all love."
The talk show host also addressed claims that "I am not who I appear to be on TV," the "be kind lady." It's a nickname she received after urging people to "be kind to one another" following Tyler Clementi taking his own life after he was bullied for being gay. "I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that. I think we need it more than ever right now," DeGeneres explained. "The truth is, I am that person you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.
"I've played a straight woman in movies, so I'm a pretty good actress. But I don't think that I'm that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you," she added. "This is me. And my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case, I've let myself down and I've hurt myself as well because I always try to grow as a person."
Watch DeGeneres' entire opening monologue below.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Weekdays, check your local listings