Another day, another reminder that Ellen DeGeneres is not the fun-loving people person she pretends to be on television.
All summer, reports about DeGeneres bullying her staff and creating a toxic work environment circulated non-stop, shocking many fans who had come to accept the daytime host’s onscreen persona as an accurate reflection of her true self.
For a while, it looked as though the controversy would lead to Ellen’s popular talk show being canceled.
But after an investigation by Warner Media and the firings of three producers, DeGeneres and her remaining staff were cleared to return for an eighteenth season.
Now, staffers who came forward and others — guests, audience members, etc. — who experienced mistreatment on set are left wondering if things have really changed, or if Ellen has once again succeeded in fooling the right people.
The reports about mistreatment on Ellen’s set continue to circulate, and the latest has to do with fans who showed up for tapings, having been falsely assured that they would get a seat in the audience.
“The audience members who don’t get a seat for whatever reason were taken to the Riff-Raff Room where they could watch the show on monitors,” an insider tells UK tabloid The Sun.
“Ellen would regularly go to say a quick ‘hi’ but what fans didn’t know is staffers took off their IDs and pretended to be audience members, then got in-between Ellen and genuine audience members so she didn’t have to get close to her fans,” the source continues.
“I never knew why that was, I can only guess it was so she kept her own space.”
Yes, not only were fans who showed up for a seat in the audience forced to watch the show on a monitor (which they could have done at home), staffers were instucted to create a human barricade between Ellen and the “riff-raff.”
And believe it or not, it gets worse.
“The show was always overbooked to make sure every seat was filled. There can’t be any vacant seats but they have to be filled with the right people, the best-looking people,” the insider continues.
“Audience hopefuls are graded on their looks. The better-looking ones at the front so they get on camera more, the uglier ones at the back,” the source adds.
“Women were treated and judged by their appearance which is wrong.”
The former staffer goes on to recount an episode in which she was instructed to avoid making eye contact with DeGeneres.
“We were walking down a corridor chatting, then ahead of us Ellen appeared with a security guard, walking straight towards us,” the insider says.
“The person I was with immediately stopped talking, stopped walking and stood with her back to the wall. I thought, ‘What the hell is going on?’
“At first I honestly thought it was a joke. But I could tell from my colleague’s face it was serious. So I followed suit. I shut up and stood with my back to the wall, too,” the source continues.
“Ellen walked past and didn’t even glance at us. We weren’t acknowledged by her in any way. I thought, ‘Ahh, so that’s how it goes around here.’”
The staffer goes on to say that she was repeatedly shocked by the sharp contrast between the philosophy that DeGeneres espouses on air, and the host’s behavior in real life.
“It was never a ‘kind’ place. Ellen’s ‘be kind’ philosophy was never mentioned to us when we were working,” she says.
“I’m speaking out because I’m worried the people who enabled that ‘toxic environment’ to happen have got away with it and they’re still working there.”
The insider adds that Ellen was an outlier, and her celebrity friends were typically much more pleasant than she was.
“Jennifer Aniston was a regular guest and she was always lovely, very friendly,” the source says.
“Portia de Rossi, Ellen’s wife, was never a problem, she was a nice person. She was there a lot, as you would expect.”
So at least we can take some solace in knowing that not all celebrities hold the peasants in such low regard.