'Toxic' host Ellen knew of 'culture of fear' on set and giggled when staff was scolded, claims show's ex-producer
A former producer at Ellen's show claims that Ellen herself was well aware of the toxic work environment and was partly responsible for the conducts of her colleagues
A former producer with 'The Ellen DeGeneres' show has said that Ellen was well aware of what was happening behind the scenes and knew of the toxic work environment. The claims were detailed in a series of investigations that were conducted by BuzzFeed News. The claims made also suggest that up to some extent, Ellen had also been responsible for it.
Hedda Muskat had been recruited by executive producer Andy Lassner back in 2003 while Ellen's show had still been in the development stages. According to Muskat, Ellen herself was responsible for the toxic work environment which involves racial discrimination and sexual harassment claims. She said it propagated a 'culture of fear'.
While speaking to The Wrap, Muskat said, "I had never seen this before. I had never been around a toxic host." Muskat recalls one particular incident when executive producer Ed Glavin screamed at a crew member in front of his colleagues.
"He just went off on them. His whole face turned red. … We were stunned. I was waiting for Ellen to say something. 'Whoa, Ed, don’t talk like that'. Do you know what she did? She giggled. She crossed her legs up on the chair and she said, ‘Well, I guess every production needs their dog’ … And from then we knew. Ed was going to be the barking dog — her dog," Muskat revealed.
"You could just see everybody’s faces go stiff. We’re professionals; we’re adults. We don’t need a dog to get us to do our jobs … She was the only one giggling," Muskat recalled.
Other former employees had also shared how Muskat was eventually sidelined after she fell out of Ellen's good books, after refusing to hand over her sources. Muskat was later let go before the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony where Ellen won 'Outstanding Talk Show' based on various segments that had been produced by Muskat.
Muskat added, "One day I get called into the office. Ed says to me, ‘You know, Hedda, we’re really loving your segments. I don’t know how you do it. We’re going to need all your sources.’ … I’ve worked for 18 years to build those sources. Those sources are why you hired me. From that day on, I felt a turn, that I was really on everybody’s shitlist."
"They call me in and Ed says, ‘Congratulations on the nomination. We really appreciate what you’ve done, but we no longer need your services.’ … I could have easily done that job for the rest of my life. I knew it inside and out," Muskat continued.
Ellen had issued an apology to her staff members and crew in light of all the claims of toxic behavior. Her apology read, "On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect."
"Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry," she continued.
Over the recent months, Ellen has been embroiled in controversy over her toxic work environment and negative and mean off-camera behavior.