Ellen DeGeneres is officially ending her daytime talk show, with its upcoming 19th season set to be its last.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which recently aired its 3,000th episode, has been plagued with allegations of a toxic working environment behind the scenes.
Employees last year accused the show’s producers and senior management of creating a toxic work culture, including allegations of racism and sexual harassment which led to an internal investigation by Warner Bros. and three producers being fired.
DeGeneres, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, also generated controversy last year after comparing quarantining in the couple’s multimillion-dollar home due to COVID-19 to “being in jail.”
In addition, a viral Twitter thread accused DeGeneres, who urges her viewers to be kind to one another, of being “one of the meanest people alive” off-camera, with dozens of allegations of abusive and cruel behavior towards staff, including DeGeneres allegedly having a production assistant fired for “leading her to set the ‘long’ way.”
The turmoil has been compounded by declining ratings during the show’s 18th season, and BuzzFeed News reported in December that the show was struggling to book celebrities or maintain advertisers in the wake of the allegations surrounding the show.
However, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter confirming the news that the show would wrap in 2022, DeGeneres, 63, framed the decision as a creative one.
“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 anymore,” DeGeneres said. “I need something new to challenge me.”
The comedian, who made TV history when she publicly came out as gay alongside her character in ’90s sitcom Ellen, said she was initially going to step away from daytime after The Ellen DeGeneres Show‘s 16th season, but ultimately signed on for three more years.
She also denied that the decision to end the show was due to last year’s allegations, including those accusing her of being a toxic boss.
“It almost impacted the show. It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn’t have come back this season,” DeGeneres said.
She added: “With the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion and everything I stand for was being attacked. So, it destroyed me, honestly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.”
DeGeneres said she learned of the accusations that her show was a toxic place to work “through the press.”
“At first I didn’t believe it because I know how happy everybody is here and how every guest talks about, ‘Man, you have a great place here. Of all the talk shows I’ve done, everyone here is so happy.’ That’s all I’ve ever heard,” she continued.
“So, there was an internal investigation, obviously, and we learned some things but this culture we’re living is [is one where] no one can make mistakes. And I don’t want to generalize because there are some bad people out there and those people shouldn’t work again but, in general, the culture today is one where you can’t learn and grow, which is, as human beings, what we’re here to do.”
She added: “It broke my heart when I learned that people here had anything other than a fantastic experience — that people were hurt in any way.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Show first debuted in September 2003, and in 18 seasons has won 61 Daytime Emmy Awards, including four for DeGeneres as Outstanding Talk Show Host.
According to THR, the show has given $70 million in charitable donations and $300 million in audience giveaways.
Warner Bros.’ Unscripted TV President Mike Darnell called The Ellen DeGeneres Show an “absolute phenomenon” and “the premiere destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human-interest stories.”
“Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” he added.
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