Three executive producers at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” were accused of sexual misconduct by former employees in a story published by BuzzFeed News late Thursday.
In the article, multiple individuals who previously worked on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show — who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution — detailed incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct they say they experienced with head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman, executive producer Ed Glavin, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
One former employee told BuzzFeed News that Leman solicited him for oral sex, while others say they saw Leman grope and kiss staffers, and several accused Leman of making sexually explicit comments.
“I started at the ‘Ellen Show’ as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes — and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope — I’m horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense,” Leman said in a statement to BuzzFeed News after the story was published. “I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”
According to BuzzFeed News, five former employees say Glavin touched them inappropriately and dozens say the EP was known for “being handsy with women.” All of the individuals interviewed for the story say Glavin was known for intimidating his employees, according to BuzzFeed News.
Norman, who is accused in the report by one former employee of grooming him before attempting to perform oral sex on him, issued a statement to BuzzFeed following the story’s publication, saying he “100% categorically denying these allegations.”
“I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never ‘groomed’ anyone,” he said. “I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show.”
According to BuzzFeed News, some of the former employees think DeGeneres is unaware of these incidents, but one unnamed source said, “She knows s— goes on, but also she doesn’t want to hear it.”
Thursday’s story — which BuzzFeed News says was based on interviews with 36 former “Ellen” employees — was published hours after DeGeneres apologized to her staff in a letter and promised to “correct the issues” raised by several former and one current employee about incidents of racism and toxic behavior at the daytime talk show, which were published in a BuzzFeed News report on July 16.
“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,” DeGeneres wrote in a letter to her staff obtained by TheWrap. “Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”
Earlier this week, executives at Telepictures, which produces “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and Warner Bros. TV, the daytime talker’s distributor, launched an investigation with parent company WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm into the accusations of racism and toxic behavior made against the show’s producers.
WarnerMedia issued its own statement Thursday promising “several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised.” At that time, reps for Warner Bros. declined to provide specific details on the nature and extent of the personnel changes, though sources told The Hollywood Reporter Glavin is set to exit his role.
On Friday, representatives for “Ellen” and Warner Bros. TV declined TheWrap’s request to comment on the accusations made against Glavin, Leman and Norman in Thursday’s BuzzFeed News article, due to the ongoing investigation into the show.
Representatives for DeGeneres and Leman did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment, and attempts to reach Glavin and Norman were unsuccessful.