Comedian Judy Gold said she had heard rumors about the "toxic" workplace environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show for years. Last month, WarnerMedia launched an investigation into the show, but only after former staffers came forward with their allegations in BuzzFeed News reports. Three senior executive producers were fired, and the show's upcoming fall season premiere was delayed a week.
Gold, who won two Emmys for her work on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, told Page Six DeGeneres was "very nice" when she worked with her once, but had heard rumors about Ellen "forever." Gold continued, "Look here’s the deal, yes there’s a double standard... A woman like that is a bitch and a man like that is ambitious, great fine. But it’s coming from multiple sources and when your public persona is be kind to everyone... And it’s your show!"
The worst rumor Gold heard about was a rule that DeGeneres' staffers were not allowed to look her in the eyes, which seems like a contraction from a host who reminds her audience to be kind. "That was one of the first things I had ever heard," Gold said. "I was like, ‘Really?! Who says you can’t look at me? Doesn’t she say it at the end of the show? Be kind, be kind. You know, come on!'"
The "no eye contact" policy was one of the rumors DeGeneres took head-on during a Zoom meeting with staffers this month. She reportedly denied the rumor, calling it "crazy" and "just not true." DeGeneres said she did not know how that rumor got started. "I don’t know where it started. Please talk to me. Look me in the eye," DeGeneres said.
It was also not the only rumor about DeGeneres being "cold" towards others. Earlier this month, Dana Dimatteo, an audience member who got on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to compete in a game, said DeGeneres "snapped" into a different person when the cameras stopped. "During commercial breaks, Ellen would break out of her 'kind' character and sit moodily in silence on her couch, not acknowledging anyone," Dimatteo told The Sun. She said DeGeneres "snapped out of camera" when the show went to commercial.
While many celebrities have voiced support for DeGeneres, some said the rumors were well-known around Hollywood. Brad Garrett said it was "common knowledge," adding, "Sorry but it comes from the top [Ellen]. Know more than one who were treated horribly by her." Lea Thompson chimed in, "True story. It is," in response to Garrett's comments.
Last week, executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman were fired after former staffers accused them of sexual misconduct and harassment in a BuzzFeed News report. DeGeneres sent a second apology to staffers after they were fired, telling them, "I'm not perfect. I'm multi-layered and I learn from my mistakes." Ellen's 18th season is now scheduled to debut on Sept. 14.