The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with the chief of WarnerMedia, Jason Kilar, a few days ago. He was asked about The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The response:
“There’s nothing new there. Ellen’s doing what she does best right now. We’re fully supportive of her. Aside from what’s been shared publicly, there’s really nothing to comment on.”
WarnerMedia has hired a third party consultant to investigate the toxic workplace and harassment claims behind the scenes of the show. Ellen released a statement to her staff apologising, sort of, for what she says she wasn’t always aware of. So despite all the noise out there about whether or not she’ll be replaced or whatever, really, the only way Ellen won’t continue is if she decides not to continue – she has full control over that decision. The power is still there. Because don’t forget, a large part of the Ellen audience either doesn’t know or doesn’t give a sh-t about what’s emerged about her over the last few months. It’s easy to believe, if you’re someone who spends a lot of time online, that everyone knows everything, that everyone’s heard about Ellen’s reputation and current scandal. This is not true, especially when you consider that Ellen is on conventional television and those viewers don’t often intersect with the internet community. To many of those viewers, Ellen is still who she was sold to be: sunny and fun and warm and kind.
And, of course, beloved by her celebrity friends, several of whom have spoken up in her defence, from Kevin Hart to Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher to Diane Keaton, Scooter Braun, and also Jay Leno. Now Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the house DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is chiming in, telling Us Weekly that:
“We can’t speak too much legally about it, but I’ll say this, there’s been love. Obviously there’s some things to address, but from my standpoint and from countless others, there’s been love. I’ll just leave it at that until there’s a time where we can address more publicly. There’s been love and there’ll will continue to be love.”
It's worth noting though that former DJ Tony Okungbowa’s statement last week seemed to confirm that he too experienced “the toxicity of the environment”. But maybe it really has been different for tWitch. Or maybe it’s because he still works there and can’t risk his livelihood. And just because he says “there’s been love”, it doesn’t negate the sh-tty things other people went through. By the way, the sh-t that people are saying now about Ellen isn’t limited to employees of her show. I know of several reporters from the US and around the world who’ve interviewed her and they have some interesting stories.
A few different people have told me that it was strongly suggested when setting up an interview with Ellen that she preferred male interviewers. Mario Lopez was used as an example. And I heard from two reporters, a man and a woman, who were told that it would be best during the interview if they just asked the questions and didn’t try to show too much personality or be funny. The takeaway was that Ellen’s the one who gets to be funny during the conversation and no one else. They’ve both claimed that after that, they talked to other members of the media who were given similar instructions. The interview with Ellen went smoothly for both people I’ve spoken to (they did not try to be funny) and they say that Ellen was agreeable. In the statement that she released last week, Ellen mentioned that she’d been misrepresented by people who work for her:
“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.”
This is not uncommon with celebrities. It’s often the publicists and the managers who are the assholes coming in with asshole requests and throwing around attitude and the stars are unaware. But, also, that’s part of the job: to make sure the celebrity always looks good, even if you have to play the bad guy. Sometimes certain stars legitimately don’t know that their reps are dicks. Other times though, their reps are dicks because the celebrity is a dick. And it’s not like the industry was just created last year. This has been going on forever, which means someone with Ellen’s experience can’t really pretend to be oblivious to industry practices. What has made her oblivious is her wealth and her power. Because for a long time now she has only shared space with the elite and the privileged. It has narrowed her perspective. That will be the challenge for Ellen as she tries to move past this. She fronted like she was relatable, accessible, when she, at best, is as detached and removed from civilians as any other superstar. Going forward then, how will she convince people otherwise? This is interesting work. I’m looking forward to watching her work. Ellen’s been on cruise control, and she’s now uncomfortable for the first time in a long time. There’s where change comes from though: a place of discomfort. And that also might make for good TV.