“It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly. I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she’s one of the dopest people on the fucking planet,” Hart wrote on Instagram along with a photo of Ellen and himself. “She has treated my family and my team with love and respect from day 1. The internet has become a crazy world of negativity….we are falling in love with peoples down fall. It’s honestly sad…When did we get here? I stand by the ones that I know and that I love. Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another….this hate sh*t has to stop.”
Hart ended his post by writing, “This post is not meant to disregard the feelings of others and their experiences….It’s simply to show what my experiences have been with my friend. Love you for life Ellen.”
Hart’s defense of DeGeneres comes after various accusations against her talkshow staff. Although the executive producers and senior management faced most of the accusations, DeGeneres is still being criticized for supposedly being unaware after nearly 17 seasons on the air.
The accusations started gaining steam in July when Buzzfeed News published an article where 10 former employees accused the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” of a toxic work environment. One Black woman who used to work for the show said she received racist comments, actions and “microaggressions” while she was an employee for a year and a half.
She said that when she was hired, a senior-level producer told her and another Black staffer, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” At a work party, she also accused a main writer of telling her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here” while other coworkers “awkwardly laughed it off” instead of defending her.
The former employee said when she brought up issues of race and representation on the show and when she requested that producers not use offensive terms like “spirit animal” in segments, her co-workers deemed her “the PC police.”
“Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff,” the anonymous Black woman said. “He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ‘I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bullsh*t.”
The woman said she also didn’t receive a raise when requested. She said she asked for one after she learned a new hire was making double the money she was making for doing the same work. The former employee also said that she was called into a meeting with executive producer Ed Glavin, where she was reprimanded for speaking out against the “spirit animal” term, asking for a raise, and suggesting employees of the production receive diversity and inclusion training.
“He said that I was walking around looking resentful and angry,” she explained. The former employee said she left out of his office that day and never came back to the show.
Such stories opened the floodgates for many current and former employees of the show — so much to the point that Buzzfeed published a followup article where people accused executive producers of sexual harassment and abuse.
One former employee said executive producer Kevin Leman asked him if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a 2013 company party. Another ex-employee said they saw Leman grab a production assistant’s penis on a separate occasion. An additional former employee said they witnessed Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck in May 2017. He was also accused of many inappropriate sexual comments during work and his actions were often aimed at lower level employees with limited power.
BuzzFeed News interviewed 36 former employees, many of whom independently corroborated incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault from top producers like Leman. He said he categorically denies “any kind of sexual impropriety.”
Dozens of ex-employees also accused executive producer Glavin of having a “reputation for being handsy with women,” especially in the control room, and folks said he managed the team through fear and intimidation. One former employee even said Glavin flipped over a table and chair while screaming when the ex-employee turned in their notice of resignation. Glavin didn’t respond to request for comment from Buzzfeed.
Another top staffer, co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, was accused of grooming a former employee over a period of time by taking him to concerts and other work-related perks. Then, Norman allegedly tried to perform oral sex on this employee one night. “Three of the employee’s former colleagues on the show corroborated that he told them about the incident at the time and said they have discussed it in the years since,” reported BuzzFeed. Norman said he’s “100% categorically denying these allegations.”
DeGeneres released a letter to staff concerning the toxic work environment last Thursday. She apologized, saying from the show’s beginning, it was supposed to be a place of “happiness” where “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,” she wrote.
She continued, “My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. 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.”
Some people aren’t buying Ellen’s insistence that she didn’t know what was going on, however. Some people even accused her of giving off a not-so-nice demeanor, despite her motto to “be kind to one another.” Before the first BuzzFeed article was published, a whole Twitter thread went viral online calling for “the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean.” It received thousands of comments.
Warner Bros. said they were investigating the allegations and they “identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised,” according to The Washington Post. Despite rumors that the show might be going off the air, Warner Bros said that the season premiere of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is slated for September 9.