Rosie O'Donnell Says She Has 'Compassion' for Ellen DeGeneres Amid Controversy

Rosie O'Donnell knows what it's like to host a successful daytime talk show packed with celebrity guests and audience giveaways, so she has some "compassion" for Ellen DeGeneres, who is in crisis mode. The Ellen DeGeneres Show has been at the center of a "toxic" workplace environment scandal, which led to the firing of three senior producers. O'Donnell is one of several celebrities who have come out in support for DeGeneres, although O'Donnell brings a different perspective to the scandal.

"You can’t fake your essence," O'Donnell said on Wednesday's episode of Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best, reports Us Weekly. "That’s why I have compassion for Ellen, right? I have compassion, even though, you know, I hear the stories and I understand. I think she has some social awkwardness." However, O'Donnell never appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show because she was afraid DeGeneres' surprises would "give me a heart attack."

Elsewhere in her discussion with Philips, O'Donnell noted that hosing a show was not "like anything close" to real life. "You know, you get mass adulation from the multitudes every day like a shot of heroin in your arm," she said. "You get people clapping at your very existence and then telling you how you altered their life, and it’s a lot to take in. And when I stepped away, I knew that this was all I could take."

While DeGeneres' show has been on the air for 17 years, O'Donnell's show ran only six seasons from 1996 to 2002. The show was incredibly successful, winning five Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show. O'Donnell said she started the show so she could spend more time with her son, Parker. "I started that show because I had a son, and I left that show because I had four children under the age of 6," O'Donnell recalled.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show is scheduled to return on Sept. 14, a week later than originally planned, due to the workplace investigation. WarnerMedia fired executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman, and Jonathan Norman, who were all accused of sexual misconduct or harassment in a July 30 BuzzFeed News report. Leman and Norman denied the allegations. After they were fired, DeGeneres told her staff she is "not perfect" and will "learn from my mistakes." This week, BuzzFeed News reported that executives were aware of the workplace allegations in 2018, but a Warner Bros. spokesman said an outside investigator who found "no merit to claims of gender discrimination."