Media executive Neil Breen claimed he was asked not to interact with Ellen DeGeneres when she appeared on Australia’s Today show, which he worked on at the time.
“When Ellen DeGeneres came to Australia to do her show in 2013, I was the executive producer of the Today show, so we partnered with them,” the journalist said on his radio show, 4BC Breakfast With Neil Breen, on Tuesday, July 28. “Originally she was going to cohost the Today show, then she was going to do this, then she was going to do that. The whole thing got watered down to Ellen DeGeneres would do a sit-down interview.”
Breen said he and his team went to Melbourne, Australia, “at our expense” to film the segment with longtime presenter Richard Wilkins interviewing DeGeneres, now 62.
“Because it’s the Ellen show, they controlled everything. They controlled the interview seats, the lights, how it would work, everything,” Breen recalled. “The producers called us aside and said, ‘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. And Richard, you’ll be sitting in this chair here. Neil, no one’s to talk to Ellen. 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.’”
The former sports reporter told listeners on Tuesday that he “found the whole thing bizarre,” but he is “not blaming Ellen” for her staff members’ demands.
“I didn’t get to talk to her,” he reiterated. “I wasn’t allowed to. I don’t know if 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.”
A number of people have spoken out against DeGeneres and her producers in recent months. As a result, WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation into The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month.
The allegations started in March after comedian Kevin T. Porter started a Twitter thread asking people to share stories “about Ellen being mean.” He received thousands of replies. The following month, Variety reported that DeGeneres’ employees had been left in the dark about their pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The most damning accounts, however, came on July 16 when BuzzFeed News published a story including claims of racism, fear and intimidation from one current and 10 former Ellen staffers.
In response to the BuzzFeed report, the talk show’s executive producers, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, said in a statement to Us Weekly that they “have strived to create an open, safe and inclusive work environment” and are “truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience.”
Us Weekly has reached out to DeGeneres’ rep for comment on Breen’s claims.
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