A former producer for The Ellen DeGeneres show claims the host was well aware of the toxic work environment outlined in a series of recent investigations by BuzzFeed News, and was to some extent even responsible for it.
A veteran of various successful talk shows, Hedda Muskat was recruited by executive producer Andy Lassner back in 2003 when the show was still in development. Yet according to Muskat, DeGeneres was responsible for the toxic work environment involving racial discrimination and sexual misconduct that has now been alleged.
“I had never seen this before,” Muskat told The Wrap. “I had never been around a toxic host.” Muskat described one incident in which executive producer Ed Glavin screamed at a crew member in front of his colleagues.
“He just went off on them. His whole face turned red. … We were stunned. I was waiting for Ellen to say something. ‘Whoa, Ed, don’t talk like that,'” she recalled. “Do you know what she did? She giggled. She crossed her legs up on the chair and she said, ‘Well, I guess every production needs their dog’ … And from then we knew. Ed was going to be the barking dog — her dog.”
“You could just see everybody’s faces go stiff,” Muskat continued. “We’re professionals; we’re adults. We don’t need a dog to get us to do our jobs … She was the only one giggling.”
The former employees also recounted how Muskat was sidelined after falling out of DeGeneres’s favor, particularly after she refused to hand over her sources. Maskat was eventually let go days before the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony. Ellen won Outstanding Talk Show based on various segments Muskat had produced.
One day I get called into the office. Ed says to me, ‘You know, Hedda, we’re really loving your segments. I don’t know how you do it. We’re going to need all your sources.’ … I’ve worked for 18 years to build those sources. Those sources are why you hired me. From that day on, I felt a turn, that I was really on everybody’s shitlist.
They call me in and Ed says, ‘Congratulations on the nomination. We really appreciate what you’ve done, but we no longer need your services.’ … I could have easily done that job for the rest of my life. I knew it inside and out.
In a statement last week after BuzzFeed dropped the allegations against her, DeGeneres apologized to her staff but attempted to shift blame onto others.
“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,” she wrote. “Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”
Last week, The Daily Mail quoted a Telepictures insider as saying that the 62-year old was considering quitting the show over concerns her brand would never recover. However, the rumors were dismissed by Andy Lassner, who told his social media followers that “nothing is going off the air.”