Media executive Neil Breen is recounting his odd experience working with Ellen DeGeneres when she appeared on Australia’s Today show in 2013, claiming he was asked not to look at or interact with the daytime host. During a Tuesday episode of his radio show, 4BC Breakfast With Neil Breen, the journalist said he was an executive producer of the morning show when it was determined that DeGeneres would do a sit-down interview with longtime presenter Richard Wilkins "at our expense."
"Because it’s the Ellen show, they controlled everything. They controlled the interview seats, the lights, how it would work, everything," Breen recalled. "The producers called us aside and said, ‘This is how it’s going to work here this morning. Ellen’s going to arrive at 10:15, and she’ll be sitting in this chair. And Richard, you’ll be sitting in this chair here. Neil, no one’s to talk to Ellen. You don’t talk to her, you don’t approach her, you don’t look at her. She’ll come in, she’ll sit down, she’ll talk to Richard, then Ellen will leave.’" While he said he was "not blaming Ellen" for her staff's behavior, Breen admitted he "found the whole thing bizarre." He continued, "I didn’t get to talk to her. I wasn’t allowed to. I don’t know if she’s a nice person or not. I wouldn’t have a clue. But I can tell you, the people who worked with her walked on eggshells the whole time."
The behavior of DeGeneres and her producers has come under question in recent months after Variety first reported that the show's employees had not been informed about what would happen with their pay in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. On July 16, BuzzFeed News published a story citing from one current and 10 former Ellen staffers who claimed they were part of a "toxic" workplace and shared claims of racism, fear and intimidation. As a result, WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation into The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month.
In light of these allegations, three executive producers on the show — Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner — told E! News that they are taking these claims "very seriously." In a statement released to the media, the trio said, "We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."