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Former Ellen DeGeneres Show DJ says he ‘did feel the toxicity of the environment’

A former DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show has said he ‘did feel the toxicity of the environment’ in an Instagram post addressing allegations leveled at the program. 

Tony Okungbowa, known to millions of viewers as DJ Tony, told his 29,000 followers he ‘stands with his former colleagues’ after a number of them said producers perpetuated a toxic work environment that included bullying and racism. 

Okungbowa was the DJ on the show for two stints between 2003 and 2006 and later from 2007 until 2013. He did not offer any examples of toxic behavior but addressed the need for ‘a healthier and more inclusive workplace’ on the show. 

Last week, DeGeneres told staffers she was sorry about what was going on, in a memo addressing the ongoing controversy.

But the apology does not seem to have worked with the show’s ratings down 29 percent from last year’s period, and nine percent down from the prior week. 

The Wrap reported that the daytime talk show garnered only a 1.0 Live + Same Day rating though the week spanning July 26, a new series low.

Former employee Okungbowa shared a picture of his time on the show Tuesday, writing: ‘I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there. 

‘I was on air talent from 2003-2006 and from 2007 -2013. While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.’ 

In July, staffers on the syndicated daytime talk show had cited a number of the show’s executive producers in their complaints, including Kevin Leman and Ed Glavin.

Ellen was reportedly joined by executive producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Derek Westervelt and senior staff members to ‘address’ the issues Monday. 

Celebs who have gone public against Ellen include Brad Garrett and Lea Thompson. 

Scooter Braun, DJ/musician Samantha Ronson and Ellen’s wife of 12 years Portia de Rossi have all come out in defense of the embattled talk show host. 

Portia who posted a graphic on Instagram saying, ‘I stand by Ellen.’

‘To all our fans….we see you. Thank you for your support,’ Portia wrote Monday, adding the hashtags, #stopbotattacks, #IStandWithEllenDeGeneres and #IStandByEllen. 

Katy Perry took to Twitter on Tuesday to praise the 62-year-old broadcaster’s ‘continual fight for equality’ and insisted she had ‘only ever had positive takeaways from my time with Ellen and on the show’. 

On Tuesday it was reported Ellen will come back to host her show’s 18th season despite claims celebrities including Sean Hayes, Kristen Bell, Melissa McCarthy and  Jennifer Aniston were being considered to replace her.

A source close to The Ellen DeGeneres Show said ‘no one is stepping in or taking over’ as the investigation into the claims continue, NBC News reports.     

A BuzzFeed News’ July 16 expose revealing claims made by one current and 10 former employees of Ellen’s talk show accused Lassner, Connelly and executive producer Ed Glavin of bullying. 

The current and former staffers said that they experienced racism, fear and intimidation while working on the long-running series and said that Ellen should have stepped in on their behalf. 

The show then faced additional accusations about sexual misconduct, lobbed on July 30 in another BuzzFeed News article, in which dozens of men and women named show producers Kevin Leman, Glavin and Jonathan Norman with alleged incidents of sexual harassment, misconduct or assault.     

Leman and Norman have denied the claims, while Glavin has not made a statement about them. He is reported to be expected to step down from his executive producer role, however. 

Last week, Ellen sent a memo to staff apologizing to them and acknowledging that the workplace culture didn’t reflect the values that she set out to display when she started the talk show 17 years ago.   

‘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,’ DeGeneres wrote in the memo obtained by Variety.  

She went on to say that following the initial accusations made in the first BuzzFeed article, Warner Bros. and the producers ‘immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues.

‘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. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again,’ Ellen wrote.    

An Us Weekly source told the magazine that Ellen ‘has never been afraid to fire anyone who is bad’ and that if she chose to leave the talk show, she ‘has enough money to never work again.’

The show’s executive producers issued a joint statement to BuzzFeed when the allegations were first put forward.   

‘Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe and inclusive work environment,’ read the announcement written by Glavin, Connelly and Lassner.

‘We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience, it’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.’

‘For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and 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,’ the statement added.  

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