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Ellen's studio crew ‘furious’ at her Covid-19 indifference, further evidence that she’s not as ‘nice’ as she seems

Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

Ellen's studio crew ‘furious’ at her Covid-19 indifference, further evidence that she’s not as ‘nice’ as she seems
Ellen Degeneres, hitherto known as one of the ‘nicest’ people in Hollywood (perhaps America), is facing backlash after staff complained they were left high and dry in the Covid-19 crisis, and reports mount that the host is “mean.”

DeGeneres’ path to international stardom and adoration was not an easy one. When she first bravely came out as gay on the cover of TIME magazine back in 1997 (then as the star of the ‘Ellen’ sitcom), she faced a brutal homophobic reaction and temporarily lost her career. Her show was canceled as America debated whether or not she had a right to be who she was openly and publicly.

Fortunately, she bounced back and became a massively successful comedian known worldwide on a first-name basis. Her entire persona was built on the belief that she is nice – very, very nice. She has always had that easy, folksy, southern charm. For years, she famously intro’d her daytime talk show by dancing through the rows of seats for her adoring audience. 

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Given that her brand of comedy is not particularly daring or offensive, Ellen became someone everyone could love, politics aside. Yet suddenly, if recent coverage of the star is anything to go by, she’s become someone everyone can hate.

It all kicked into high gear in February when YouTuber guest Nikkie de Jager accused her of being cold and distant” when the pair met on the show. “After Ellen, I figured, don't meet your idols,” the Dutch beauty blogger said of the experience. Of course, the testimony of one guest is hardly a ‘case closed’ situation – but the anti-Ellen floodgates were opening.

Soon after, Comic Kevin Porter described her as “notoriously one of the meanest people alive” and asked his followers to share their stories. The tweet garnered almost 2,500 responses – many from alleged ex-staff members.

Among the allegations were that she fired an austistic staff member for greeting her, that she makes people chew gum in her presence because of her sensitive nose and that she complained about a waitress’ chipped nail polish.

Of course, it’s impossible to know which of these stories are legitimate and some certainly sound outlandish. However, accusations of unkind behavior have been lent a new air of credibility in recent days as it was revealed by Variety that her 30 core stage crew members had received no communication from Ellen herself or from show executives about their wages and working hours during the Covid-19 lockdown. When they were finally contacted, staff were told to expect a 60 percent pay cut. How’s that for ‘nice’?

The crew, left in limbo, were reportedly “furious” at the lack of communication and seeming lack of concern for their well-being – especially since the host had said publicly that supporting her staff was top priority. Worse still, Variety reported that Ellen (who made $87 million in 2018) hired a non-union tech company to help her keep her show running from home. It’s a stark contrast to reports that late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel was paying stagehands out of his own pocket at the beginning of the crisis and that all staff had been receiving their regular salaries.

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Meanwhile, Ellen was at home in her LA mansion posting cooking videos on Instagram with wife Portia de Rossi. In an exceptionally unwise and tone-deaf moment, Ellen joked that being stuck at home during the quarantine was like “being in jail,” prompting even more backlash and accusations that she was out of touch with reality. (In fairness to de Rossi, her art production company has been producing PPE for healthcare workers during the crisis.)

It appears DeGeneres may be the epitome of the faux-lefty Hollywood celebrity who preaches about the importance of being nice but hasn’t put her lashings of money (reportedly $330 million) where her mouth is when it really mattered. Ellen ends every show with the phrase “be kind to one another.” It sounds like she needs to start heeding her own advice.

The hypocrisy in Ellen’s behavior has been staggering for quite some time. While she declared she would not have Donald Trump as a guest on her show because he is “against everything” she stands for (fair enough), she counts Iraq-destroying George W Bush (who also has a dismal record on gay rights) among her friends"  Trump is a no-go, but rehabilitating Bush with a cutesy dance intro is fine. Is anyone truly surprised that Ellen isn’t quite all she’s cracked up to be?

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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