Ex-Ellen DeGeneres Show employees accuse producers of sexual misconduct: Report
New allegations of misconduct on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show have surfaced.
A BuzzFeed News article published Thursday night cites 36 anonymous former employees alleging incidents of "harassment, sexual misconduct, and assault from top producers." The article came hours after it was reported that host Ellen DeGeneres sent staffers a letter addressing allegations that she fostered a toxic workplace.
According to the BuzzFeed report, several ex-employees — all of whom asked not to be named out of fear of retribution — accused head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman of sexual misconduct and harassment.
The outlet reported that one former staffer said Leman "asked him if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. Another said they separately saw Leman grab a production assistant's penis."
Leman denied "any kind of sexual impropriety" in a statement to Buzzfeed following the article's publication.
"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 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."
The Buzzfeed piece also details claims of misconduct against the show's executive producer Ed Glavin and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman.
Five former staffers told Buzzfeed that Glavin touched them in uncomfortable ways, like rubbing their shoulders and back, while another alleged, according to the outlet, that Norman "groomed him" with work-related perks and, on one occasion, attempted to perform oral sex on him.
Norman "categorically" denied the allegations to BuzzFeed, while Glavin did not respond to the publication's request for comment.
In a statement, Norman said, "I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never 'groomed' anyone. 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."
Reached by EW, Warner Bros. declined to comment on the BuzzFeed article. Representatives for DeGeneres and the show did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
In DeGeneres' letter, she took responsibility for complaints of a toxic workplace, which were also reported on by BuzzFeed. Nearly a dozen current and former employees spoke to the outlet about their experiences on set, which they described as a "toxic work environment" filled with racism, intimidation, and fear.
"As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done," DeGeneres wrote. "Clearly some didn't. That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."
In a previous statement Thursday, Warner Bros. told EW that WarnerMedia interviewed "dozens of current and former employees" and found "deficiencies" in how the show was run. Without naming names, the company said there will be "several staffing changes made, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised."