On August 17, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres held a video conference call with the show's staff, in which she announced that executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, as well as co-executive producer Jonathan Norman were ousted from Ellen. She was reportedly "emotional and apologetic" throughout the call. The Ellen Show has been subject to an internal investigation by WarnerMedia into the claims made by former employees, and an employee told BuzzFeed News that it will completed soon. And while the investigation thus far has reportedly not found evidence of "systemic racism" described by former employees, DeGeneres "promised that she and the entire team will participate in diversity and inclusion training seminars."
This follows two extensive BuzzFeed News stories published in late July in which many anonymous former employees made claims that the culture at The Ellen DeGeneres Show was toxic, and rife with fear, racism, and both emotional and physical harassment. The producers especially rountinely engaged in sexual misconduct and heavily contributed to fostering a hostile work environment. According to dozens of ex-staffers, Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women" in the control room and touched other women in ways that made them feel uncomfortable, and used various intimidation tactics to manage his employees. Glavin has not responded to any of the allegations against him.
Leman was accused of rampant sexual assault and harassment by a handful of employees, including groping production assistants and asking another employee for a hand job or oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. He would also point out male colleagues' bulges at work and openly ask inappropriate sexual questions. In response to the report, Leman denied "any kind of sexual impropriety."
In response to Leman "parting ways" from the show, his attorney told E! News, that the BuzzFeed article was "deeply flawed" and "led to the termination of an innocent man." They described Leman as feeling "devastated by being scapegoated."
Co-executive producer Norman said he is "100% categorically denying these allegations" brought by a another former Ellen employee who claimed that over time, Norman "groomed him" by taking him to events in exchange for oral sex. Norman accused the former staffer who spoke out as someone who "has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show."
In an email to staff, David McGuire, executive vice president of programming at Warner Bros., said that "We promised you change and a new culture, and we are absolutely committed to that." A current Ellen Show employee told BuzzFeed News that the meeting on Monday and the firings made them feel more "hopeful" and is a "step in the right direction."
“Getting rid of the toxic people at the top is the only way that that place is ever going to change, or the culture is ever going to change,” they said.
DeGeneres sent an apologetic email to her staff after the first reports broke, saying she was "disappointed" to learn of the claims of widespread toxicity and had set out for The Ellen DeGeneres Show to be "a place of happiness." She wrote that she is "committed to ensuring this does not happen again."
Refinery29 reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.