Several weeks after reports of sexual harassment and bullying among her top staffers, the head writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and two of the show’s producers were fired on Monday.
According to Variety, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, as well as co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, were all fired from the show due to allegations of sexual impropriety. Executive producers Mary Connelly, Andy Lassner, and Derek Westervelt will remain.
In late July, a BuzzFeed News article claimed that several former employees witnessed head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman sexually propositioning or groping lower-level employees.
“One ex-employee said head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman asked him if he could give him a handjob 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,” BuzzFeed reported. “In May 2017, another former employee also said she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck.”
“Nearly a dozen former employees, who range from longtime, senior-level employees to production assistants, said it was also common for Leman to make sexually explicit comments in the office, like pointing out male colleagues’ bulges in their crotches, or ask them questions like, ‘Are you a top or a bottom?’” the report continued.
A former employee said that Kevin’s comments were often “masked in sarcasm” to soften their delivery.
“He’d probably do it in front of 10 people and they’d laugh because ‘it’s just Kevin being Kevin,’ but if you’re in a position of power at a company, you don’t just get to touch me like that,” a former employee said.
In a statement on Monday, the lawyer for Kevin Leman said that Ellen DeGeneres fired an innocent man based on a faulty report.
“The fact that a deeply flawed BuzzFeed article has led to the termination of an innocent man — a popular figure and a creative force behind the ‘Ellen’ show and a string of other projects produced with Ellen – is shocking,” said Leman attorney Michael Plonsker. “Kevin is devastated by being scapegoated and is not yet ready to comment.”
Kevin Leman denied the accusations outright.
“I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold,” said Leman. “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. I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity, and respect. 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.”
A total of 47 former employees accused of executive producer Ed Glavin of fostering a culture of fear and intimidation on a daily basis. Some even said he would use his private shower in his office bathroom with the door wide open.
“You’d be going into his office for an important meeting and the shower door is open and you’re like, that’s a little weird,” a former employee said. “The shower is right when you walk in on the right. Before you even see his desk, you see his shower. He’d be openly showering and going into meetings with wet hair.”
Another former employee also accused co-executive producer Jonathan Norman of grooming him over a period of time by “taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him.”
“We’re young people who were forming our careers and were unfortunately subjected to a toxic work environment as some of our first jobs out of college,” the former employee said. “And some of us were sexually harassed and that’s what was shaping our careers our first year out of school.”
Speaking to her staff on Monday, Ellen DeGeneres was reportedly “emotional to the point of tears” as she announced the firings and apologized to her more than 200 staffers. Ellen reportedly told her staff that she was “not perfect” and understood that people at her show were not treated like human beings in order to run it as a “well-oiled machine.”
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