Ellen DeGeneres to return to host namesake show for 18th season

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show," currently the subject of a probe by Warner Media after allegations of a toxic workplace culture, is slated to return to the airwaves Sept. 9.
ELLEN DEGENERES
Ellen DeGeneres will return to the upcoming season of the show that bears her name.Randy Holmes / Walt Disney Television via Getty
/ Source: TODAY

Ellen DeGeneres will return to the stage to host the 18th season of her namesake talk show that is currently the subject of an internal investigation after current and former employees claimed it was a toxic work environment, Telepictures confirmed to TODAY.

Staff returned remotely to work after the summer hiatus on Monday, show spokesperson Melissa Little Padgitt confirmed. The show’s crew has not yet returned to work.

Though media outlets had speculated this week that DeGeneres would be replaced as host, a source close to the show's production told TODAY that was not the case and “no one is stepping in or taking over,” though the internal probe by Warner Media is “still ongoing” and involves a third-party firm. The show staff is comprised of more than 150 people, including the digital team, the source said, noting the staff and crew are planning production around COVID-19 safety guidelines.

DeGeneres’ spinoff show, “Ellen’s Game of Games,” will begin shooting in the studio Aug. 24, the source said, and that staff also returned to work Monday.

DeGeneres’ personal spokesperson confirmed "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is slated to return to airwaves Sept. 9.

The investigation into the talk show comes after a July 16 story by BuzzFeed that featured one current employee and 10 former staffers who claimed they endured a culture of racism, fear and intimidation while working for the show.

They blamed senior managers on the show for allowing the behavior.

"The biggest common thread that everyone told me is that what goes on behind the scenes is a far cry from what the show represents in their 'be kind' messaging and what the show and what Ellen DeGeneres herself profits off of," BuzzFeed entertainment editor Krystie Yandoli told TODAY.

A separate source previously told TODAY that DeGeneres is not the focus of the investigation, but some ex-staffers have called for her to face consequences.

"Some former employees said that because of Ellen's name and face on the show, they want her to have more accountability and involvement about what goes on behind the scenes," Yandoli said.

DeGeneres addressed the report in a memo to staff on July 30.

"On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case," she wrote. "And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show."

A spokesperson for Warner Media told TODAY that the primary findings of the investigation into the show "indicated some deficiencies."

"We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them," the spokesperson said July 30.

Three of the show’s executive producers — Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Ed Glavin — said in a statement to BuzzFeed earlier this month that they are taking the allegations "very seriously.”

"It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us," they added. "We realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."

Little Padgitt on Monday confirmed Lassner, Connelly and Glavin are still listed as executive producers on the show, alongside DeGeneres, Derek Westervelt and Kevin Leman.

NBC News has spoken to multiple former staffers at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” who corroborate the accusations of misconduct by senior management but said they cannot speak publicly because they are bound by nondisclosure agreements and fear retribution.