DeGeneres’ original content was taking a hit too. Jokes she had written herself tanked embarrassingly. Most notable is when she complained of being in prison, albeit broadcasting from her California mansion. She said, “One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that people–this is like being in jail, is what it is.”
She sealed the punchline with your moment of cringe. It’s almost like prison because, “I’ve been wearing the same clothes for ten days and everyone in here is gay.” The laugh track was strikingly absent. It was the winter of DeGeneres’ publicity woes.
The 14-Day Blackout
It started in March. But the two weeks ending on April 9, 2020, were the tipping point for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Those weeks, more than anything, triggered the July quakes that unearthed the problems. There was a 14-day blackout during which the entire staff of the program braced for the worst. The show was plucked from the air and questions about their employment future met dead air.
Finally, a month later, they learned that they faced a 60% pay cut and uncertain healthcare during a worldwide pandemic. Meanwhile, the show run by Telepictures continued to air and collect revenue.
Employees Found Out ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ went Remote After it Happened
On April 7, DeGeneres aired the show from her home. Stage crews found out about the new production site via the Internet by social media posts. Even more enraging, they learned that a nonunion tech media company would assist with remote production. Some employees could have done that work.
Many of the crew had been with the show since its inception 17 years before. It was a tense time. Meanwhile, other talk show hosts were paying their staff out-of-pocket.
Some Thought the Be Kind Lady was Very Mean
Comedian Kevin T. Porter decided to make this point on March 20, at the beginning of the blackout. His tweet began by saying we all need kindness, like Ellen always says. But then he said she is one of “the meanest people alive.”
His antipathy toward the kindness queen was triggered following a photo on Twitter depicting herself hanging out with George W. Bush at a football game. So, he offered to donate $2 to the LA Food Bank to match each response to his tweet about the most “insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean.” The comedy writer hit a nerve.
The Tweets Came Fast and Furious
Porter received 2,000 stories of DeGeneres’ cruelty. However, many were made in fun while others complained about his motives. In the end, he donated $600 dollars to the food bank, matching the seemingly true stories. There were several people who talked about Ellen never greeting, smiling, or even looking at them as employees, even once.
Another wrote in saying she was instructed not to look at the host in the eye, and never say hi to her first. Another said Ellen has a sensitive nose so you must chew a piece of gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her.