It was recently brought to Ellen DeGeneres’ attention that the people working on her show, Ellen, were actual human people, and not just a bunch of cogs and gears in one big, giant daytime TV machine called the MoneyMaker-2000. A fact I will forgive her for because it’s difficult to see that your employees have a face when you’ve allegedly instructed them to never look in your direction. Ellen is apparently trying to make the Ellen show a good place to work, and that means being extremely DeGenerous to her current employees.
According to former staff, working on Ellen meant possibly getting fired for taking time off for mental health reasons, and fighting for bereavement leave. Ellen has been really pushing the narrative that she wants to do better, and now she’s starting with her staff. Because the last thing Ellen wants is for her staff to quit en-masse, and she’s forced to learn how to force a smile, work the cameras, and dance into a commercial break while her only remaining employee tWitch struggles to switch out gels on the studio lighting. Ellen will avoid that horror by giving her staff lots of employee benefits. via Variety:
Staffers will receive five paid days off to use at their discretion, birthdays off, and paid time for doctors appointments and family matters, one source familiar with the series told Variety. The news was delivered by Ellen senior producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner at a Monday virtual town hall, which saw a teary DeGeneres apologize to employees for months of damaging reports and accused on-set toxicity that occurred “on her watch,” another insider familiar with her remarks said.
Employees also now have an HR rep, courtesy of WarnerMedia, who doesn’t report to Ellen or senior staff members, which means staff complaints might actually be taken seriously.
A human resources executive has already begun work and has attended several zoom meetings, another insider said. The executive does not report to show leadership, providing anonymity to workers with grievances and a dedicated advocate. Connelly and Lassner told staff plainly “don’t be afraid,” during the call. Sources said this applied to communication about workplace issues, circumstances surrounding the pandemic, or even rumors that no one should make eye contact with DeGeneres (which she denied).
One source told Variety that between Ellen’s staff address at the beginning of this week (which she gave after senior producers Kevin Leman, Ed Glavin, and Jonathan Norman were canned), and this new gift of employee benefits, there has been a major boost in “morale.” Which is good news, because Ellen’s Game of Games is returning to the studio soon, and staff and crew are reportedly no longer dreading the return.
I feel like Ellen could probably do more. Five paid days off? Getting your birthday off? According to former Ellen producer Hedda Muskrat, Ellen’s alleged reign of terror has been going on since when the show started in 2003. At the very least, Ellen should promise that on every employee’s birthday, Kevin Hart will pop out of a 5-foot-tall cake, and Kevin and Ellen will play a special game with the birthday boy or girl called, “How much money do you want to take out of our wallets.”