Underfire talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has returned to the small screen and addressed claims she has enabled a “toxic atmosphere” behind the scenes of her hit series.
The 62-year-old found herself engulfed in accusations of bullying behaviour by not only her employees but also past guests and even fellow celebs.
Many have insisted her mean nature is common knowledge among the Hollywood elite.
The accusations have forced WarnerMedia to launch an investigation at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, as rumours continued to swirl about Ellen and whether or not she would be replaced on the show.
Determined to tackle the rumours head on Ellen, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, addressed them head on with a speech at the start of the new series of her show.
She said: “Oh boy, welcome to the Season 18 of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. If you’re watching because you love me, thank you. If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome.
“How was everybody’s summer? Good? Mine was great. Super terrific. I’m so happy to be back in the studio – there are a lot of things I want to talk about. I’ve been looking forward to addressing it all directly.
“Unfortunately talking directly to people had been illegal for six months, so I have a virtual audience here instead.”
Ellen added: “As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show. And then there was an investigation.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.
“I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realise that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility at what happens at my show.
“This is The Ellen DeGeneres show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today, we are starting a new chapter.
“There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appear to be on TV, because I became known as the ‘be kind’ lady, and here’s how that happened.
“I started saying ‘be kind to one another’ after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness, and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now.
“Being known as the ‘be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in. The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things.
“Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress. I am especially working on the impatience thing and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough.”
However, while Ellen’s apology sounded heartfelt, psychologist and body language expert Bruce Durham is not convinced it was “authentic” thanks to clues in her body language.
He said: “She was joking and trying to keep things jolly but her hand actions give you all you need to know about what was going on inside her head and if she has actually done any of the stuff that has been reported.
“Ellen has been named in the media, accused of certain things, this is her speech to the public – saying ‘we are back’.
“You would expect someone in her position to be a bit self-absorbed, anyone in the top position has to have a bit of that about them.”
He highlights that right at the start of the speech Ellen does a hand rub and moves her hands into the prayer position.
Bruce explains: “She’s already thinking ‘I hope this goes well’, this is a bit of self sooth.
“She’s trying to be jovial but she’s very aware of the downside about getting that wrong but why would she be bothered about it if she hasn’t done the things she’s accused of?
“She knows she’s under pressure and is expected to deliver. Can she convince the public that she’s trustworthy?”
As Ellen is delivering her monologue Bruce notices her ‘eye blocking’, which he explains is when someone is “trying to block out an image in the mind’s eye”.
He added: “She’s trying to block out that negative experience for her. There’s repitition of the eye block when she’s talking about the toxic atmosphere at the show.”
Bruce believes Ellen is “trying to lull the people she’s talking to into an empathetic connection with her. She makes it clear it’s her show with her name on it”.
He explains: “I think it would be more authentic and believeable if you name it, forget about the jokes and trying to make people laugh, and just name the issue her.
“Any firm lack of what she’s being accused of is missing. She’s trying to use humour as a tool to bring us back on board.
“She mentions that ‘be kind to yourselves and others’ but when she’s talking about it she licks her lips and that means adrenaline has kicked in and she’s getting ready for some kind of engagement.
“What other narratives have gone on behind the scenes? Is she trying to protect that image? She’s trying to be confident and display humour but her body language is giving her away. She’s talking about being the ‘be kind lady’.”
Then, Ellen moves her hand to her thigh in what Bruce says is another “self sooth” gesture.
He added: “It’s a big indicator that she feels really uncomfortable.”
Ellen finishes her speech with a joke about how she’s learning to be less impatient – but it’s taking too long.
Bruce says: “She’s trying to use humour to disguise what the main topic is that she should be devoting time for.
“She ends it on something that makes be believe it’s inauthentic. She says it’s been a terrible summer with people losing their lives and jobs. So she’s saying it’s been a little bit bad on this show but look at what else has been going on, this is the real horrific stuff.
“She’s trying to scale that up while what’s going on with her show is small and fluffy.
“If this is an apology video it’s a terrible attempt. It hasn’t got the right tone or focus. It misses the mark totally for the people who have been affected negatively.
“It was terrible and there’s enough about the bl to say that Ellen knows a whole load more and more about what went on behid the scenes but is saying ‘we’ve talked about it now so let’s move on’.”
- To watch Bruce’s body language videos, click here.