Ellen DeGeneres is grappling with the controversies surrounding her show head-on. The iconic host returned to the air Monday with her first episode since she and her show were investigated by Warner Bros. for allowing a “toxic” work environment fester. Charges included sexual harassment, racism and bullying. Three executive producers have been fired.
In the opener of Season 18, DeGeneres said: “If you're watching, because you love me, thank you. If you're watching it because you don't love me, welcome. How was everybody's summer? Good. Yeah, mine was great. Terrific. I'm so happy to be back in the studio. There are a lot of things I want to talk about. I've been looking forward to addressing it all directly and unfortunately talking directly to people has been illegal for six months.”
DeGeneres continued: “As you may have heard this summer, there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show. And then there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say, I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power. I realized that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there. My name is there. My name is on underwear. We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes. And today we are starting a new chapter.”
NOT A PHONY
DeGeneres also discussed the claims that her “be kind” persona is fake. “There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appear to be on TV because I became known as the 'Be Kind Lady,'” she continued. “And here's how that happened. I started saying 'be kind to one another' after a young man named Tyler Clemente took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness. And it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now. Being known as the 'Be Kind Lady' is a tricky position to be in. So let me give you some advice out there. If anybody's thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'Be Kind Lady.'”
She added: “The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. I sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress and I'm especially working on the impatience thing because, and it's not going well because it's not happening fast enough. I am a talk show host and you know that. But maybe some of you know I was an actress. I've played a straight woman in movies. So I'm a pretty good actress. I don't think that I'm that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me. And my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case, I have let myself down and I've hurt myself as well, because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn. I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good.”
The show’s premiere included an interview with Tiffany Haddish; this week will also see appearances from Kerry Washington, Alec Baldwin, SuperM and Kris Jenner.