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Ellen DeGeneres announces ouster of 3 top producers after allegations of toxic workplace

DeGeneres apologized to staff in a video call, saying she had let the show run like a machine instead of seeing employees as people.

Three top producers on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" are out after reports of a toxic work environment behind the scenes sparked an investigation by Warner Media's employee relations group.

Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman have parted ways with "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," a spokesperson for Warner Bros. confirmed to NBC News.

The departure of the three producers was first reported by Variety.

Sources told NBC News that DeGeneres announced the changes on a video conference call with staff on Monday, which marked the first full day of production on the show's 18th season.

DeGeneres apologized during the call, saying she had allowed the show to be run like a machine rather than seeing the staff as people, the sources said. She also said she tries to learn from her mistakes and that she hopes she can transform the show into a happy place for workers.

Glavin and Norman did not immediately respond to messages requesting comment.

In a statement, Michael Plonsker, an attorney for Kevin Leman, said "the fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man — a popular figure and a creative force behind the 'Ellen' show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen — is shocking."

"Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment," Plonsker added. A Warner Bros. spokesperson had no comment on Plonsker's statement.

Last month, a source close to the production of the show confirmed that it was the subject of an internal probe by Warner Media.

The probe followed an April report by Variety detailing some crew members' dissatisfaction with their alleged treatment by top producers amid the coronavirus pandemic and an article by BuzzFeed News earlier this month in which former employees and one current one alleged a culture of racism, fear and intimidation at odds with the show's motto, "Be kind to one another."

The employees said the producers and other managers were at fault for the environment, but said DeGeneres should take more responsibility for how the staff are treated, especially since a large part of her brand hinges on doing good for others. DeGeneres was not a subject of the review, the source close to the production said.

NBC News has spoken to multiple former staffers at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” who corroborate at least some of the accusations of misconduct by senior management but said they cannot speak publicly because they are bound by nondisclosure agreements and fear retribution.

A later BuzzFeed News report said dozens of former employees of the show appeared to corroborate allegations of top producers sexual harassing subordinates. However, NBC News has not independently verified these additional allegations.

DeGeneres last month apologized to staffers in a memo.

"Hey everybody — it’s Ellen. 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," the host said in the note. "Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry."

The 18th season of the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" was originally slated to debut on Sept. 9, but has been pushed back to air on Sept. 14. A Warner Bros. spokesperson said stations prefer a Monday debut.

“Ellen’s Game of Games” is in production now, shooting next week, the spokesperson said. Glavin, Leman and Norman are not involved in that show.