The behind-the-scenes work environment of Ellen DeGeneres’ long-running daytime talk show is once again under scrutiny tonight. Just a few hours after DeGeneres responded, for the first time, to previous allegations about the show’s allegedly “toxic” workplace culture, Buzzfeed has published a new report in which multiple former employees have accused some of the show’s producers of sexual misconduct or harassment. These include allegations that the show’s head writer, Kevin Leman, sexually propositioned a staff member at an office party, and other accusations that Leman groped or made suggestive comments toward production assistants and other low-ranking staffers on the show.
In addition to the allegations against Leman, the report also repeats (and emphasizes) claims made in a previous report against executive producer Ed Glavin, with five former employees stating that he touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable, and several more stating that he “had a reputation for being handsy with women, especially in the show’s control room.” Furthermore, co-executive producer Jonathan Norman is also stated to have “groomed” an employee on the show, “Taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him.” As with the previous Buzzfeed report, all of these statements were made by former employees of the show, and all anonymously. Several of the sources, whose total number was listed to be in the dozens, corroborated the incidents being reported by other former members of the staff.
Leman has been with Ellen as a writer since the show began back in 2003, becoming the series’ head writer in 2010. Glavin and Norman both joined the series in 2006. The show’s producers at Warner Bros. have declined to comment on specific allegations, although the studio did state today that it had “identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them.” Per Buzzfeed, neither Leman or Glavin have commented on the allegations. Norman has stated that he is “100% categorically denying these allegations,” and accused the person who reported them of having “ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”
The previous Buzzfeed report focused primarily on the culture at Ellen, painting a picture of a workplace in which dissent was discouraged, and any requests for improvement were met with stern retaliation. Tonight’s report also alleges that employees on the series had no way to have their grievances in the face of this sort of alleged harassment addressed, and were pressured not to take issues to Warner Bros. HR. “There was no such thing as a confidential conversation,” one former staff member said. “There was no clear direction that if something happens to you, you go to this person, it will remain confidential, and you will not be retaliated against.”