In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has revealed that she will end her popular talk show after this nineteenth season. DeGeneres reportedly told her staff on May 11, and will discuss the details on Ellen‘s May 13 show with none other than Oprah Winfrey.
“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres tells The Hollywood Reporter, discussing the move publicly for the first time.
While the decision is said to have been made by DeGeneres and is said to have been “several years in the making,” it does come after recent allegations that have tarnished the celebrity’s name and image.
The Tarnishing of an Icon
Despite many years in the spotlight, DeGeneres is still one of the biggest stars in the entertainment business. However, her reputation is took a major hit as a flurry of people began making negative accusations about her on social media following a Buzzfeed News expose.
Form this article, Ellen faced heavy scrutiny and investigation. From the show’s guests to DeGeneres’ bodyguard, just about everyone has something harsh to say about the alleged “Queen of Nice.”
Since 2003, DeGeneres has been a mainstay on the small screen thanks to her daytime talk show. The hugely popular series has subsequently picked up over 80 awards down the years – including gongs at the Daytime Emmys. However, now the star and her show are in hot water.
WarnerMedia conducted an internal investigation of The Ellen Show following reports of a toxic work environment. NBC News reported that their source disclosed that DeGeneres wasn’t a part of the investigation, but other high-ranking staff were. In the end, key executives were fired from their positions, and DeGeneres claimed ignorance of the whole situation.
However, that doesn’t mean DeGeneres was left completely unscathed.
DeGeneres took it upon herself to apologize in a memo to staff after the investigation was publicized. She wrote:
Hey everybody — it’s Ellen. On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect.Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry.
Degeneres also opened season 18 in September with a lengthy apology, telling viewers, “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.” It garnered high viewership, but the New York Times reports that ratings tumbled after that..
It seems people were hardly appreciative of the apology — or didn’t believe it — especially considering the recent backlash against the star.
First, There Was Brad Garrett
Shortly after Ellen’s apology made headlines, former Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett chimed in on Twitter, saying that DeGeneres is the person really responsible for the workplace culture.
“Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow,” he wrote, tagging DeGeneres. “Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge.”
Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge. DeGeneres Sends Emotional Apology to Staff – Variety https://t.co/D0uxOgyyre— Brad Garrett (@RealBradGarrett) July 31, 2020
Garrett did not detail any specific allegations against DeGeneres, and so far she has not responded. But someone another celebrity did…
Back to the Future star Leah Thompson chimed in over Twitter as well saying the reports were true.
Now the floodgates were open. The BuzzFeed News article from July 17 featured 10 former employees and one current staffer talked about how toxic the environment is, including “microaggressions” toward an employee of color and harsh firings of employees.
While members of the executive team were fired for sexual misconduct and other reasons, this isn’t the first time negative news has bubbled to the surface surrounding the star…
EDITOR’S NOTE: See how Ellen responded about the attacks on the Today show by clicking here, or keep reading to get the full saga of her downfall.
The Buzzfeed problems began for DeGeneres about a month following a tweet from comedian Kevin Porter. He accused the host of being “one of the meanest people alive” and encouraged social media users to post their own “insane stories” about DeGeneres’ alleged negative attitude.
He also devised a crafty way to encourage responses from other users.
Porter promised to donate $2 to the LA Regional Food Bank for each tale about DeGeneres. That tweet led to a huge number of responses from people who claimed to have worked with the TV personality… and didn’t have a great experience.
After Porter’s tweet went viral in the spring, someone who said that they were an ex-employee from DeGeneres’ daytime talk show came forward to speak with the New York Post. Over the course of their conversation, they dropped a bombshell.
When episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show start wrap up, the host usually asks her audience to “be kind” to each other. Yet, according to the unnamed employee, she doesn’t follow that advice herself – backing up Porter’s claim.
“The stories are all true!” the apparent ex-worker told the paper in May 2020. “Is [DeGeneres] always nice? No. It irritates me that people think she’s all sweetness and light and she gets away with it.” Elsewhere, another supposed former employee on the show had their own anecdote to share with the world.
The individual in question was allegedly a former associate producer on the program. Talking to the New York Post, this person looked back on a moment that apparently took place behind the scenes some time ago. According to them, DeGeneres was struggling to read an iPhone message after misplacing her glasses.
The ex-employee claimed, “[DeGeneres] stopped everything and made a call. Next thing we know, we literally hear [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs pick up and say, ‘Hi, [DeGeneres].’ [She] told him the iPhone should have a bigger font. That’s her. She just lives in an incredibly privileged bubble and is out of touch with the real world.”
But while those individuals offered up an intriguing glimpse of DeGeneres’ alleged attitude away from the camera, more negativity continued to come her way. Going back to Twitter, a social media user claimed that an acquaintance of theirs once held a position on the star’s show. Then, their life apparently changed forever.
The Twitter user said, “After working for [DeGeneres] for over five years, [a] close friend left to have [a] baby, and found a different job on a union network show [which provided benefits]. [DeGeneres] begged her to return, [and] then fired her after one week – no reason given. And [my] friend struggled for a long time with [her] new baby and no benefits.”
Meanwhile, another individual came forward on the platform with allegations of their own. This tale dated back to when they were a teenager. During that time, the person had apparently decided to take part in a competition for the daytime talk show.
The user wrote, “When I was 15, The Ellen DeGeneres Show was doing a contest of fans making a bust of [the host] and sending it to her. I worked so hard on this and even wrote her a letter. Weeks later, she used it as a prop in a game and gave it away to a random person, with $500 attached to the bottom.”
The Twitter user included a photograph of herself working on the sculpture. She also posted two screenshots from the aforementioned episode – highlighting that a guest lifted it up to reveal the money. And that particular message went on to earn over 7,000 likes and more than 400 retweets on Twitter.
As the stories on social media continued to pour in, another person from DeGeneres’ past then decided to come forward. His name is Tom Majercak, and he held the senior manager of operations position at a company called Security Imagery Specialists (SIS). And ahead of the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony, he was given an important assignment.
Majercak was asked to take on the role of DeGeneres’ bodyguard at that event, as she hosted the show for a second time. The television star first helmed the ceremony back in 2007 – following on from Jon Stewart’s effort the previous year. After accepting the job again, she joined an illustrious list of names to host the ceremony twice.
As always, the 2014 Oscars was jam-packed with memorable moments. The hit movie 12 Years a Slave proved to be the big winner on the night – taking home the Best Picture gong. It also secured another two awards in the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Elsewhere, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity scored seven victories from ten Academy Award nominations, including the Best Director prize. Dallas Buyers Club was a success story that evening too, as the film won both the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor gongs. But it could be argued that DeGeneres stole the show.
One of the most memorable segments during the event involved DeGeneres welcoming a pizza delivery man on the stage. Armed with different boxes, she encouraged the stars in attendance to grab themselves a slice. And the pizza man – co-owner of Big Mama’s & Papa’s Edgar Martirosyan – made a $1,000 tip out of the job.
Speaking after the event on DeGeneres’ talk show, Martirosyan revealed that he had no idea what was going to happen before entering the theater. He explained in 2014, “I was shocked. I didn’t know it was going to be something [like] this. It was really crazy.”
Surprisingly, though, DeGeneres had another trick up her sleeve that got the world talking. At a certain point in the Oscars ceremony, she walked down the aisle and encouraged several actors to pose for a selfie. So, with Bradley Cooper holding the camera, the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts got into the photo.
DeGeneres then posted the selfie on her official Twitter account that evening. And in the accompanying message, the host wrote, “If only [Cooper’s] arm was longer. Best photo ever.” Not long after that, the star-studded picture quickly went viral, and it became one of the biggest stories of the night.
DeGeneres’ photo went on to earn over two million likes and more than three million retweets on the social media platform. No other picture in Twitter’s history had been shared that many times before, according to Time. The selfie was also included in the magazine’s 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time.
So, while DeGeneres was making history and entertaining the audience on stage, Majercak watched on from the sidelines. After the Oscars, he continued to look after the star, her mom and wife Portia de Rossi, too. But according to Majercak, this job was unlike any other that he’d taken on for SIS.
Majercak finally decided to share his alleged experience from that night during an interview with Fox News in May 2020. Apparently, the social media backlash against DeGeneres had prompted him to come forward. And some of his claims seemed to mirror those made by others about the TV host.
Majercak said, “I’m holding their hands and walking them through individuals and large groups of people. [DeGeneres] is the one person that I’ve been assigned to – and I’ve been assigned to quite a few celebrities – [who] has never taken the time to say hi to me.”
Prior to that, though, Majercak claimed that his evening at the Academy Awards got off to a good start. He informed Fox News that de Rossi was “very pleasant and carried on a conversation” with him in the early stages. But according to the bodyguard, it was all downhill from there.
Majercak said, “It started going negatively when [de Rossi] introduced me to [DeGeneres]. [She] pretty much just gave me a side glance out of her eye and didn’t even say ‘Hello,’ or, ‘Thank you for protecting my mother, my wife and me.’ It was very cold and it was very sly.”
“It was actually kind of demeaning in the way that [DeGeneres] treats people other than those who are in her circle,” Majercak added. The ex-SIS employee then shed some light on what allegedly transpired after the ceremony concluded. He joined DeGeneres and her party as they made their way over to the famous Governor’s Ball event.
According to Majercak, DeGeneres only allowed certain stars to speak to her at her table during the event. The ex-bodyguard claimed that she’d “pre-approved” a list of names before the ball got started. He told Fox News, “It’s bugged me for years.”
Majercak continued, “I see this person come across as being very enlightened and positive and awesome, and everybody loves her and is in awe [of her]. [But] that’s really not the case when you meet her in person.” He then went on to make an interesting observation.
Majercak said that he thought DeGeneres’ alleged behavior towards him came as a result of the stress she was under as host. Yet as time went on, his views began to change when the negative anecdotes emerged on social media in 2020. Now, he holds an entirely different opinion.
“When you see [DeGeneres] on TV, people fall in love with her but it is a false facade and bravado,” Majercak said. “You start hearing these stories and I was like, ‘Man, there’s got to be more to this.’ She’s not the person she portrays to be that she’s playing off of society. That’s my opinion.”
Majercak went on to say that DeGeneres did do a terrific job at the Oscars in 2014. However, the former bodyguard believes that the television star should be honest about the kind of person that he says she is away from the camera.
Majercak added, “I can absolutely see through interacting with [DeGeneres] first-hand that she doesn’t care about anybody else as long as she’s getting what she wants. People are starting to see her true self, and that really lends to the support of what my initial thoughts of her have been over the last six years.”
Off the back of Majercak’s interview with Fox News, another security company raised an interesting point on social media. The World Protection Group shared the article via its Facebook page in May 2020. And in the accompanying post, the firm questioned the status of his confidentiality agreement before talking to the station.
Meanwhile, as the backlash against DeGeneres showed no signs of abating on social media, one of her colleagues offered a different perspective. Mary Connelly – who plies her trade as an executive producer on the star’s talk show – spoke to the New York Post. And according to her, the stories paint an inaccurate picture.
Connelly told the newspaper in May 2020, “None of what’s being said speaks to the [woman] I know. Do the producers and her sometimes have to make unpopular decisions? Yes. [DeGeneres] is not afraid to tell you when she doesn’t like something. She’s had tough conversations with me. That’s a function of everyday life.”
“But the person I know is someone who comes in every day and wants to put on a fun show in a fun environment and help people,” Connelly concluded. Alongside her, an ex-employee of the show came forward to bat for DeGeneres as well. His name is Steven Mazan, and his comments could be tied back to one of Majercak’s previous claims.
Mazan informed the New York Post, “One of the things I liked about [DeGeneres] was that behind the scenes she had a darker sense of humor. I never saw her as vindictive. I think people want to believe [that the person you see on TV is really her]. But nobody is that uncomplicated.”
So, how does Ellen respond to all this?
The Today Show
On May 13, 2021, following the announcement of the show’s ending, Ellen told Savannah Guthrie on Today that she is still surprised by attacks on her and reports of her show’s workplace environment as “toxic.” but that it was not the reason for her decision to end her long-running daytime talk show.
“I mean, I really don’t understand it. I still don’t understand it,” DeGeneres said. “It was too orchestrated. It was too coordinated. And you know, people get picked on, but for four months straight for me, and then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I have ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place it is.”
However, she said that those rumors had nothing to do with her ending the show.
DeGeneres told Guthrie that “if it was why I was quitting, I would have not come back this year. I really did think about not coming back. It was devastating. I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy. I just kept saying to Portia [de Rossi] if I was a fan of somebody, and even though I loved them I would think there must be some truth to it because it is not stopping. And then right on the heels of that I hear that there is a toxic work environment, which I had no idea, never saw anything that would even point to that.”
Then she added something that made audiences take pause.
“And also I have to say — if nobody else was saying it — it was really interesting because I’m a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic.”
This seemed strange considering some of the people who made the complaints were women. A rep for DeGeneres later said that she was referring to negativity in social media and other coverage. So, there’s that.
Ellen added, “I am not bulletproof, and no I do not have a thick skin. I am extremely sensitive, to the point where it is not healthy how sensitive I am. When something is coming back at me that I know is not true, I guess I could take one or two of those shots, but four months in a row took a toll on me.”