Ellen, the long-running daytime television chatshow hosted by Ellen DeGeneres will end next year, it was reported on Wednesday, after allegations of bullying by employees and a toxic workplace environment caused ratings to tank.
An official announcement by DeGeneres and Warner Brothers, which produces the show that has run for 18 seasons and more than 3,000 episodes, was expected on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Daily Mail website. The show was regarded, for many years, as a groundbreaking addition to daytime television as DeGeneres was one of only a handful of openly gay celebrities at the time.
But DeGeneres, 63, has already informed her employees that the show will end at the conclusion of its 2021-22 season, the article stated. The star, according to a source quoted by the newspaper, “has had enough and told her team that she’s done”.
DeGeneres appeared to confirm the decision in an article on Wednesday in the Hollywood Reporter, which stated she would be discussing it during her show on Thursday.
“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge any more,” DeGeneres said.
The bullying allegations came to light last summer when dozens of employees came forward to claim they had been sexually harassed or assaulted by executives or other senior members of DeGeneres’s staff.
Three executive producers, Jonathan Norman, Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, were fired and DeGeneres made an emotional on-air apology to viewers in September 2020, during which she said sorry to employees who were hurt and claimed to have made “necessary changes”.
“Things happened here that should never have happened,” she said. “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
Despite the apology, viewers have been switching off to the show, the Daily Mail said, citing declining figures in major media markets. Viewership is down by 59% and 50% in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively, the website said, and between 32% and 40% in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
“The ratings have tanked and have been truly appalling this year and Ellen knows her time is up,” a source close to DeGeneres said, according to the article.
NBC’s syndicated Ellen DeGeneres Show has been a mainstay of daytime television since 2003, with its variety of celebrity interviews, comedy and audience participation. It has won more than 60 daytime Emmy awards, including four for outstanding talkshow.
DeGeneres, one of the highest-paid stars on US television with a salary estimated at $75m, signed a three-year extension to her contract in May 2019, which would provide a natural break for the show’s conclusion in 2022. In November she reportedly refused to take a pay cut to save staff from layoffs.
An internal investigation by Warner Brothers after the allegations surfaced last year found “some flaws in the show’s daily management”, adding that it was “disappointed” by the deficiencies.
No direct allegations of bullying were made against DeGeneres herself, but she received criticism for overseeing a culture in which such a malignant workplace environment was allowed to exist.
Her team, DeGeneres said at the time, had “a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future”, and the show was “starting a new chapter”.
“Being known as the ‘be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in. The truth is I am that person you see on TV but I’m also a lot of things, I’m a work in progress,” said DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in 1997.
She said her “be kind” philosophy was inspired by the death of Tyler Clementi, a gay teenager who was outed online in 2010 and killed himself. She also said that she wanted the show to be a place of “happiness and joy” for audiences.