Working on The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been a well-respected opportunity in Hollywood for years, but it seems clear that those days are long over.
In a new report by Buzzfeed News, multiple former employees have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct against top executive producers, which comes on the heels of an in-house investigation by WarnerMedia.
Kevin Leman, head writer and executive producer, is facing allegations from nearly a dozen former employees, who range from production assistants to longtime, senior-level employees. These former staff members said it was common for the 42-year-old to make sexually explicit comments to men in the office, like asking, “are you a top or a bottom?” or pointing out colleagues’ bulges in their crotches.
One former employee said:
“It’s masked in sarcasm, but it’s not sarcasm.”
A second said they saw him grab a production assistant’s penis, while another added that in May 2017 they witnessed him grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck. A third reported Kevin asked him if he could perform oral sex or give him a handjob during a company party in 2013.
Lower-level employees, in particular, have had a hard time speaking out against the behavior over the years because of Leman’s position within Ellen DeGeneres‘ show, as one former employee described the sexual misconduct:
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that.”
The Emmy Award winner has denied these accusations brought against him, issuing a statement (below) to Buzzfeed after publication:
“I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense. I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”
He isn’t the only one who has had new accusations brought forward. The outlet included five against executive producer Ed Glavin, who is accused of touching employees inappropriately on their shoulders and back or by placing his hand on their lower waist area.
In addition to those five, dozens of former staffers say Ed “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” particularly in the control room, managing his team with intimidation tactics. One of those women claimed Glavin regularly touched her in the control room:
“You could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see. Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone … but you didn’t want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear.”
A second former employee shared their story, stating the EP would touch staff inappropriately in front of nearly 30 other people in the control room while segments were being filmed:
“Even though I was being abused constantly, Ed putting his arm around you in the control room was like the nicest experience you had all day, as messed up as that sounds. But you had been crying last night and now your segment is going well … and then you feel like you got credit for something from the executive producer directly. … That friendly banter accompanied by a friendly hand.”
Another ex-employee also came forward with an allegation against co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, detailing how he was groomed over a period of time and manipulated with perks, leading to one night where Norman attempted to perform oral sex on him. Three former colleagues corroborated this info, saying that it has been discussed in the years since it happened:
“We’re young people who were forming our careers and were unfortunately subjected to a toxic work environment as some of our first jobs out of college. And some of us were sexually harassed and that’s what was shaping our careers our first year out of school.”
Following publication on Thursday, Norman denied the allegations in a statement:
“I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never ‘groomed’ anyone. I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”
This new report comes a day after the previously tight-lipped host finally spoke out about the “toxic” allegations with an apologetic statement to staff. Read it in full (below):
“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. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.
I could not have the success I’ve had without all of your contributions. My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”
The daytime TV host further shared:
“I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, 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.
It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention. I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.”
Still, she concluded with a semi-apology to employees:
“I am so proud of the work we do and the fun and joy we all help put out in the world. I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it. Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience. If not for COVID, I’d have done this in person, and I can’t wait to be back on our stage and see you all then.
Stay safe and healthy.
What do U think of all this, Perezcious readers?? Ellen’s going to have to do a lot more, and take more responsibility, to address these horrifying allegations!
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