A producer who worked on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show during its very first season claims ‘a culture of fear’ has plagued the program’s workplace from the beginning – and says the star was complicit in the bad behavior.
Hedda Muskat joined ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ back in 2003, and was among a small number of staffers who helped shape the show as it went to air across the county.
But while the program was an immediate hit, Muskat claims there was already abusive behavior occurring behind the scenes.
‘I had never seen this before, I had never been around a toxic host,’ she told The Wrap in an interview published Monday.
Muskat is the latest employee to speak out about problems on the show’s set – and her claims corroborate those made by dozens of other staffers who also assert that ‘bullying’ was rife.
However, Ellen has sought to distance herself from any involvement in the problems, and some of the other whistleblowers say she may have been unaware of how bad things really were.
Muskat claims that is not the case.
Speaking with The Wrap, she recalled one instance in which Ellen ‘giggled’ while the show’s executive producer, Ed Glavin, screamed at a crew member in front of an entire room.
‘He [Glavin] just went off on them. His whole face turned red. … We were stunned,’ Muskat recalled.
‘I was waiting for Ellen to say something like, “Whoa, Ed, don’t talk like that”. But do you know what she did? She giggled.’
Muskat went on: ‘She [Ellen] crossed her legs up on the chair and she said, “Well, I guess every production needs their dog”.
‘You could just see everybody’s faces go stiff. 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.’
‘Ed [Glavin] didn’t act independently. Ed was a bully, but he worked for Ellen. It was her show,’ Muskat stated.
In her interview with The Wrap, Muskat went on to claim that she quickly fell out of favor with show bosses when she refused to hand over a list of contacts she had spent her whole career building.
Muskat says she was ‘repeatedly sidelined in favor of a younger male producer and slowly stripped of responsibilities like writing her own segments’.
In 2004 – partway through the show’s second season – she was fired by Glavin.
Her dismissal came in spite of the fact she helped the show win two Emmy Awards during its initial seasons.
‘I could have easily done that job for the rest of my life. I knew it inside and out,’ she stated.
Muskat’s story comes after Ellen issued a memo to staffers saying she was ‘taking steps… to correct’ issues with her employees.
She wrote: ‘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. Clearly some didn’t,’ she added. ‘That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.’
However, in addition to Muskat’s claims that the star has been aware of problems from the beginning, other staffers have slammed Ellen’s mea culpa.
Two former employees told The Sun that her ‘apology and denial that she knew anything was going on’ regarding misconduct is ‘complete bull.’
The pair told the paper: ‘For over a decade Ellen has treated her staff poorly, which is ironic because of her persona when she is on camera.
‘She is literally like two different people. One is awful, power-hungry and constantly yells at everyone for any little that goes wrong with the production of the show.
‘The other character that Ellen plays is what the world sees – a hilarious, kind and giving woman who is a fearless advocate for the LGBTQ community.’
The former workers said that the show has a high turnover of staff because of the pressure which Ellen applies, and fear of her ‘power’ has prevented complainants from coming forward earlier.
One of the sources said: ‘She cannot go on living a lie and treating people this way. Her reputation and disgusting behavior has finally caught up with her.’
The show’s parent company WarnerMedia last week launched an investigation after the employees went public with their grievances.
Last month one current and 10 former employees of the daytime chat show accused its three executive producers, Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner, of ‘bullying.’
The executive producers, issued a statement saying: ‘We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience.’
Lassner also tweeted: ‘Nobody is going off the air.’
Jonathan Norman, a co-executive producer, is alleged to have ‘groomed’ a former employee by taking him to concerts and showering him with other gifts and perks before attempting to perform oral sex on him.
Kevin Leman, the show’s head writer and executive producer, is alleged to have solicited oral sex from an employee. Others say they witnessed Leman grope another colleague.
Glavin, meanwhile, allegedly ‘had a reputation for being handsy with women,’ according to former employees.
The former staffers told BuzzFeed News that they believe Ellen knew that several of her senior showrunners and producers were alleged to have committed sexual misconduct against junior-level employees.
Leman and Norman have denied all allegations. Glavin has not addressed the claim publicly yet but is stepping down from his position, according to Variety.
Warner Bros., the studio that runs the show, has declined to comment on the sexual harassment allegations, citing an ongoing internal investigation.
Multiple staff members at the show tell DailyMail.com they are not buying Ellen’s apology and are calling on her to call it quits.
One staffer said, ‘She’s only addressing this now because the publicity is so bad for her and her BS brand of happiness and kindness. Ellen can throw everyone else under the bus, but the buck stops with her.
‘Whenever she’d tell viewers to choose kindness, I’d throw up a little in my mouth because she always chose the opposite,’ they added.
Among the allegations was one made by a black woman who claimed she suffered a number of ‘microaggressions,’ her request for a raise was ignored and she was accused of ‘walking around looking resentful and angry’ after asking for staff members to undergo diversity and inclusion training.
Another former employee alleged they were fired after taking medical leave for one month following a suicide attempt.
Our source said: ‘She was happy to put her name on the show, yet she let those three executive producers do whatever they wanted. The fish rots from the head and Ellen and the three of them are now rotting.’
They also claimed Ellen and her executive producers will be on a ‘witch hunt’ now to find who spoke out against them.
‘Don’t think for a second that there won’t be a witch hunt to find out who went public with the worst kept secret in television,’ they said. ‘Ellen is mean. She’ll want vengeance for all of this coming out.’
A popular claim that has circulated is that staff members were instructed not to speak to Ellen, and our source corroborated that claim.
‘She kept herself isolated from the staff. You can’t go up and talk to her, heck, you can’t even get within a mile of her on the lot,’ they said.
Current employees are now calling on Ellen to call it quits.
‘Warner Bros should cancel our show or swap her out for a fun celebrity host. Viewers have been fed lies for years. The Ellen you see on TV is disingenuous and inauthentic. She’s a horrible person who has done nothing to support 99% of the people who work for her.
‘Yet they won’t cancel it as all they care about is money and the show is a cash cow.
‘It’s time for Ellen to leave TV. She’s done enough damage. They should replace her with someone wonderful like Jen Aniston. She’s always a dream when she comes by – gracious, kind and funny and we’re actually allowed to look her in the eyes!!
A recent report by Us Weekly claims the scandal is uniting staff behind the scenes.
‘They’ve been calling and texting each other about the story,’ a source claims to the publication. ‘They’re loving that the truth – which has been an open secret for years in the industry – is finally receiving more interest.’
A source initially told Buzzfeed that the executive producers feel that ‘everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there: ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.”
Executive Producer Andy Lassner tweeted with confidence on Thursday that ‘nobody is going off the air’.
Our source said: ‘Many of us have a theory that Ellen behaves this way as a mechanism to protect herself. She was so damaged when her sitcom was canceled after she came out that she chose to keep people at a distance in order not to get hurt should this show be canceled. Yet 17 seasons later it’s still on the air and she’s so powerful now she thought she could do whatever she wanted.’
One staffer told DailyMail.com: ‘Even though our show is crumbling around us, it’s liberating for everything to come out into the open.’