As the investigations into allegations that workers were racially abused and bullied behind the scenes of the Ellen Degeneres show deepens, an Australian producer says he was told not to look at or talk to the famous TV host when they brushed shoulders in 2013.
The Ellen Degeneres Show is currently under internal investigations after several staff members came forward with tales of racial abuse and bullying.
Degeneres’ increasing infamy seems to be spread across continents, with Neil Breen, the host of the Today show in Australia telling 4BC Breakfast about his bizarre run-in with the talkshow host seven years ago down under.
According to Breen, when they finally got to work with Degeneres, the entire production was controlled by her team.
“Originally she was going to cohost the ‘Today’ show, then she was going to do this, then she was going to do that.” “And the whole thing got watered down to Ellen DeGeneres would do a sit-down interview,” he said.
Richard Wilkins, an Australian TV presenter, was set to interview DeGeneres — but Breen said he and the rest of his team received a very specific set of rules for working with her.
“Because it’s ‘The Ellen Show,’ they controlled everything,” Breen said. “They controlled the interview seats, the lights, how it would work, everything.”
Breen also said they received strict instructions that there was to be no interaction between his team and Degeneres.
“The producers called us aside and said, ‘OK, this is how it’s going to work here this morning. Ellen’s going to arrive at 10:15, and she’ll be sitting in this chair here, and Richard, you’ll be sitting in this chair here.'”
“Neil, no one’s to talk to Ellen. So you don’t talk to her, you don’t approach her, you don’t look at her. She’ll come in, she’ll sit down, she’ll talk to Richard, then Ellen will leave.”
Despite such a bizarre work environment, Breen said he did not blame Degeneres, whose show is the focus of an internal investigation by WarnerMedia over allegations of a “toxic” work environment.
“I’m not blaming Ellen, because I didn’t get to talk to her, because I wasn’t allowed to,” he said. “So I don’t know whether she’s a nice person or not. I wouldn’t have a clue. But I can tell you the people who worked with her walked on eggshells the whole time.”