Members of The Ellen DeGeneres Show staff are reportedly not happy with how things are running during the coronavirus pandemic. The show has continued to air, with Ellen DeGeneres hosting from home and interviewing celebrities through video conferencing. However, sources told Variety Thursday crew members are "distressed and outraged" by how top producers are treating them.
Multiple sources told the outlet that the main stage crew, which includes over 30 employees, have received no communication about working hours, inquiries or pay about physical and mental health from their bosses for more than a month. High-ranking producers will "occasionally" answer phone calls, but have gone into little detail. Some are also angry about the show recently hiring a non-union tech company to help the host film the show from her California home.
Last week, production executives told staff to be ready for a 60% pay cut while the show is being filmed from DeGeneres' home. Only four main crew members are still working on the broadcast, and insiders said the treatment employees have faced is the opposite of DeGeneres' kind on-screen personality. However, Warner Bros. Television told Variety, "Our executive producers and Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind." The studio said the crew has been paid, but at reduced hours.
Crew members were reportedly not told how much or even if they would be paid from late March until April 9, sources told Variety. They claimed to have received very little information from the production coordinator at Warner Bros.' Telepictures during the two weeks. This continued even after it was decided DeGeneres would host five shows a week from home, filmed over two days. Insiders said the staff only learned about DeGeneres' at-home set through social media on April 2. A Warner Bros. spokesperson admitted the communication should have been better and blamed it on the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ellen staffers were paid for the full week of March 16 and for the week of March 23, due to a pre-planned break. The studio spokesperson said the staff was paid for the week of March 30 as well, but insiders said the pay was cut to eight hours per work day instead of 10. As of April 10, employees were told they would only be paid for two, eight-hour work days per week. After Variety asked for comment, employees heard they would be paid the full four-day work week. A Warner Bros. source disputed that though, noting the reduced pay was not set in stone.
Some employees were particularly disappointed that show leadership was not personally reaching out to see how they are doing during this crisis, Variety's sources said. Some key crew members have been working on the show since DeGeneres filmed her pilot almost two decades ago. Some crew members said they were also disappointed to hear colleagues at other shows were being paid in full during the pandemic.