It was just yesterday that Ellen DeGeneres finally spoke out about the allegations of misconduct and the toxic work environment which were brought by several of her show's former employees just a couple of weeks ago. While DeGeneres said she was committed to seeing changes happen, she may now have even more to deal with on that front, as more claims are now being brought against the show, with dozens of former employees saying that sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault from top producers was a part of that toxic workplace.
A new report from BuzzFeed News says that they spoke with 36 former employees who were all able to independently corroborate reports of harassment, sexual misconduct, and assault from The Ellen DeGeneres Show's top executives, such as head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman. The former employees who spoke out, many of whom left the employment of the show willingly, all still wished to remain anonymous because of the fear of retribution.
Kevin Leman was the focus of many of the new complains about sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. According to these reports, one former Ellen employee was asked by Leman, at a company party in 2013, if he could either give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom. A different ex-employee noted that, at another time, they saw Leman grab a production assistant’s penis. Someone else said that, in May 2017, she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a vehicle and kiss that assistant's neck.
All told, this new report found almost 12 former Ellen staffers, who range from productions assistants to longtime, senior employees, who noted that it was also quite common for Kevin Leman to make sexually explicit comments at work, such as pointing out the crotches of male workers and asking inappropriate questions like, “Are you a top or a bottom?" These ex-employees also added that the targets of Leman's alleged behavior tended to be people who would be more likely to feel they couldn't stand up to him or report him, because they were usually lower-level and younger employees.
For his part, Kevin Leman has spoken out quickly to deny these claims in a statement:
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.
It was just earlier this week the the previous set of allegations against Ellen were revealed to be under investigation by WarnerMedia. Those claims included workers saying they faced intimidation, fear and racism at the office, and due to the ongoing investigation, Warner Bros. has declined to comment on any of the new, specific allegations. The company did note in a statement previously, though, that early findings pointed toward "some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management" and that they were taking steps to implement staffing and other changes.
All told, almost 50 former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres show have come forward to talk about the alleged toxic environment behind the scenes of the show, with many additional reports of sexual assault, misconduct and harassment now being brought against those who run the daytime series. So, we can only hope that the investigation of these claims is truly taken seriously, and that any and all problems are removed and new processes put into place so that people feel safe about reporting such incidents in the future.
This story is still developing, so be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates.