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Ellen DeGeneres apologizes to staff after reports of toxic workplace: 'I take responsibility'

The production was under an internal investigation following reports of a workplace environment allegedly at odds with the show's motto, "Be kind to one another."
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Ellen DeGeneres apologized to the staff of her eponymous daytime talk show days after it was revealed that WarnerMedia was conducting an internal investigation following reports of a toxic work environment.

"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," Ellen began her note to staff on Thursday. "Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry."

A source close to the production confirmed to NBC News earlier this week that show producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. Television had engaged WarnerMedia’s employee relations group to interview current and former employees about their experiences working for the show.

The source said that DeGeneres was not part of the review: “It is not about her at all."

A WarnerMedia statement also issued Thursday indicated that it has completed at least part of the investigation, which included interviews with dozens of current and former staff of the show, and would be making some staffing changes as a result.

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 toxic atmosphere 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 Ellen 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.

On Friday, another 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.

The former employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said there was no formal process to file complaints about the behavior. One said Warner Bros. doesn't pay attention to misconduct at the show because it is such a success.

Warner Bros. declined to comment Friday. Representatives for the Ellen DeGeneres show would not comment on the new allegations Friday, citing the ongoing internal investigation.

Some employees said DeGeneres herself was not engaged enough with the staff to know what was going on, while others said she chooses to remain ignorant. Others still said top producers acted differently and treated staff differently when they were in the presence of the TV host.

DeGeneres, in her note to staff Thursday, said: "My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues."

She added, "It’s been way too long, but we’re finally having conversations about fairness and justice. We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention,"

"I want everyone at home to love our show and I want everyone who makes it to love working on it," DeGeneres said. "Again, I’m so sorry to anyone who didn’t have that experience."

WarnerMedia, in its statement issued through a spokesperson, said, "Though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management."

It continued, "We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them ... We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show.”