Top executive producers of “The Ellen Show” have been accused of sexual misconduct by former employees.
A total of 36 former male and female employees, ranging from senior-level employees to production assistants, corroborated allegations against executive producers including Kevin Leman, according to a report published Thursday by Buzzfeed News. The former employees spoke to Buzzfeed anonymously “out of fear of retribution.”
Dozens Of Former “Ellen Show” Employees Say Executive Producers Engaged In Rampant Sexual Misconduct And Harassment https://t.co/cKUKRZtVCd
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) July 31, 2020
The former employees laid out numerous allegations of harassment, sexual misconduct and assault to the outlet.
Head writer and executive producer Leman was accused by one former employee of asking for a hand job or blow job at a company party in 2013. Two other employees reportedly claimed they saw Leman grab the penis of a production assistant.
Another former employee claimed she saw Leman allegedly grope a production assistant and kiss his neck during May of 2017, and dozens of former employees claimed it was normal for Leman to make sexually-charged comments in the workplace, per the report.
“Are you a top or a bottom?” employees gave Buzzfeed as an example of a comment Leman would likely have made.
“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,” another employee told Buzzfeed.
Leman denied the allegations in a statement. (RELATED: REPORT: ‘The Ellen Show’ Under Investigation After Complaints Over Workplace Environment)
“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,” his statement began. “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,” he added. “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.”
WarnerMedia has started an investigation into the workplace environment of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” following the publication of articles that included interviews with employees who complained of discrimination and mistreatment https://t.co/wkQOCUFhpB
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 28, 2020
WarnerMedia declined to comment on any specific allegations but said the company was working “to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the show’s day-to-day culture.” The media company opened an investigation into claims of a toxic workplace environment on July 28.
DeGeneres reportedly apologized to staff in a memo Thursday obtained by Buzzfeed News. The talk show host claimed the show is supposed to be a place of “happiness” and that everyone should be treated with respect.
“Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case,” DeGeneres reportedly wrote. “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.”