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Talk Show Hosts Are Taking Care of Their Crews … Except, Apparently, Ellen

ellen degeneres

The coronavirus shutdown has been extremely hard on most television productions, and some of the only crews working right now are the remote ones helping produce talk shows, such as those of Stephen Colbert or Seth Myers. But even those productions are running on skeleton crews. Even so, in many cases, the stars in front of the camera and producers behind the scenes are trying to protect the people that make their shows possible. Entertainers are stepping up to pay employees out of their own deep pockets … except Ellen DeGeneres. According to reports, DeGeneres and her show’s producers have been MIA.

Reports have emerged that the crew of the Ellen show aren’t being paid, don’t know what’s going on, even worse, Ellen herself is continuing to make her show with non-union crew from home. According to an exclusive in Variety, “more than 30 employees, received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month, said two sources, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

Crewmembers of the show have been warned to brace from 60% pay cuts coming up, even as Ellen continues to film her show at home. For weeks, the crew has been trying to figure out what’s happening with inconsistent communication from producers. This went on as reports came in that Ellen, who was actually making more shows than usual per week, was using some non-union, different crew to film at her home. Warner Brothers blamed the poor communication on coronavirus but … other shows seem to be doing just fine. According to Variety:

On April 2, the majority of the crew members were shocked to discover that DeGeneres had a remote set erected at her residence where she was taping, a fact they learned via social media posts from colleagues in other departments, insiders said.

This may seem surprising, considering Ellen has such a sunny and sweet brand. And heck, she literally went on the air on April 7 and said how much she appreciated “my staff and crew. I love them, I miss them, the best thing I can do to support them is to keep the show on the air.” But she’s not giving them or communicating with them. Or paying them when she’s also worth around $330 million,

But, for a lot of people, this isn’t surprising, as Ellen has an industry reputation that’s, shall we say, less than stellar. In contrast to her fun image, rumors that Ellen is a terrible boss are common in Hollywood and just a generally terrible person abound. And well, she’s buds with some pretty suspect folks as well.

Even though we didn’t expect much from Ellen, this is disappointing and just bad. She can afford to pay people, like many of her contemporaries have, and if she’s serious about keeping up a brand of being kind, she should start with her own employees.

(via Variety, image: Apple TV)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.