An 'Ellen Show' employee says they're having trouble booking celebrity guests and losing ratings after toxic workplace scandal

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ellen dakota johnson
Dakota Johnson famously appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in November 2019. "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"/ NBC
  • In a new report by Buzzfeed News, a current "Ellen Show" employee says they're having trouble booking A-list celebrities for on-air appearances. 

  • According to the employee, who wasn't named in Buzzfeed News' story, the talent-booking team encouraged workers to pitch ideas for talent because they "need help" and their "old strategy doesn't work anymore." 

  • "For the first time, everyone was starting to ask us, 'If you have an idea, tell us because we will listen,'" the employee added. 

  • The employee said that the talent team said they'd "take anyone" who'd boost the show's viewership, "even if they're not A-list or famous." 

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An employee for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" revealed in a new Buzzfeed News report that the show is having trouble booking celebrity guests after former "Ellen Show" employees accused the daytime talk show of being a toxic work environment.

In the report, the current employee, who wasn't named by Buzzfeed News, said that earlier in the show's current season, the talent-booking team encouraged "Ellen Show" employees to pitch ideas for celebrity guests - since they were struggling to bring in the usual big names. 

"For the first time, everyone was starting to ask us, 'If you have an idea, tell us because we will listen,'" the employee told Buzzfeed News. "'If you have an idea for a celeb, even if they're not A-list or famous, we'll take anyone who will bring us numbers and eyeballs.'" 

"That's when they started to be real with us and essentially said, 'Give us anything because we need help.' Our old strategy doesn't work anymore," the employee added. 

Elsewhere in the report, the employee also said that "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" didn't have as many sponsors for holiday giveaways this year, which is usually its busiest time of the year thanks to its "12 Days of Giveaways" segment that runs over 12 episodes. 

"This feels like our make-it-or-break-it moment," the unnamed employee explained. "This will be our biggest report card. If we pick up sponsors by the new year, then we're cooking, we'll be fine, and we'll sell kindness in a bottle. But if we fail that report card, who knows."

Representatives for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" declined to comment to Insider about Buzzfeed News' report.

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Ellen DeGeneres during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on May 24, 2016. Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

It's been a tough year for the talk-show host, whose "be kind" mantra has been called into question in the past few months. 

Back in November, an employee for the show told Buzzfeed News that a recent round of layoffs at WarnerMedia wasn't entirely related to the pandemic. The unnamed employee said that brands were hesitant to work with the embattled host, and that this could have contributed to the layoffs at Ellen Digital Ventures - an extension of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." 

"Brands we were approaching were uneasy about being sponsors for this season because our organization is not a 'be kind' brand they thought it was," they said then.

Earlier this year, former "Ellen Show" employees, including a producer and a DJ, also accused DeGeneres of acting rudely and creating a toxic environment on the set.

The Australian radio host Neil Breen said he was told not to talk to, look at, or approach DeGeneres when he worked with her in 2013.

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Ellen DeGeneres on the season premiere of her daytime talk show in 2020. FOX via Getty Images

And in July, the show's parent company, WarnerMedia, launched an internal investigation into the show's workplace culture. Variety reported that an "employee relations group and a third party firm" would conduct the investigation, interviewing current and former employees about their time on set.

DeGeneres addressed "issues" at her show in a letter to staff in late July. The host doubled down on her comments during the season premiere of "The Ellen Show" in September.

"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously," DeGeneres said in her opening monologue for the season. "I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.

"I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power. And I realized that with that comes responsibility," she continued. "And I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show.'"

On Thursday, the "Ellen Show" announced that it would be shutting down production until January after DeGeneres revealed she had tested positive for COVID-19.

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