Ellen DeGeneres crew left ‘distressed and outraged’ over pay amid coronavirus shutdown, report claims

US talk show host previously said she returned to the air to support her crew, who she said she ‘loves and misses’

Adam White
Friday 17 April 2020 09:20
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Ellen DeGeneres says she 'loves and misses' her crew while recording her US talk show from home

Crew members for Ellen DeGeneres’s US talk show have reportedly been left “distressed and outraged” by lack of transparency about pay and working conditions during the coronavirus shutdown.

Sources told Variety that Ellen crew were left in the dark for two weeks about the status of their jobs on the show, which went off the air in March.

The sources alleged that higher-ups in production would only “occasionally” answer phone calls, and that the show’s core crew were told to “brace for a 60 per cent reduction in pay”, despite new episodes of the show still being produced and broadcast.

“Radio silence from producers created anxiety among crew members who feared they would be furloughed and, in that case, would need to explore unemployment benefits,” the report claims.

DeGeneres’s show returned from a brief hiatus on 6 April, albeit recorded from her own home as in-studio production of all film and television has shut down in the wake of the pandemic.

According to Variety, however, many of DeGeneres’s crew only discovered that the show would be returning to the air via social media, having not been officially told by management.

They later learnt that DeGeneres had hired an outside, non-union company to assist on audio-visual production from her home, despite her traditional crew, who bear the same skills, being out of work. Only four of DeGeneres’s traditional crew, which consists of more than 30 employees, are currently working on the quarantined version of the show.

Despite earlier being told to expect a reduced compensation, DeGeneres’s crew have reportedly come to believe that they will soon begin to receive their usual four-day work week pay. A source close to Warner Bros Television, which produces the show, suggested that a deal is still being finalised.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros Television acknowledged to Variety that communication could have been improved, but blamed errors on the initial uncertainty of the pandemic and the extent to which the entertainment industry would shut down.

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In a statement, Warner Bros declared: “Our executive producers and [Warner Bros production unit] Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind.”

DeGeneres, who was at the centre of a viral Twitter thread in March that saw a number of people accuse her of “mean” off-camera behaviour, declared her “love” for her crew during her return to television last week.

In the 6 April episode of her show, which marked the first recorded in her home, DeGeneres said: “I wanted to start doing my new show as soon as possible because it’s really for people who are stuck at home. Especially my staff and crew. I love them. I miss them and the best way I can support them is to keep the show on the air.”

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