Ellen DeGeneres addresses ending show with Oprah Winfrey

·Features and Health Editor
·5-min read

Ellen DeGeneres has given her first TV interviews since announcing her talk show will end in 2022, but they differed greatly.

The 63-year-old host addressed the fact the Ellen DeGeneres Show will end after 19 seasons during Thursday's show, while also sitting down for a chat with close friend and fellow talk show veteran Oprah Winfrey.

ellen degeneres and oprah winfrey interview
Ellen did an interview with friend Oprah Winfrey. Photo: Ellentube

While Oprah didn't address or question the toxic workplace allegations which some believe are a contributing factor to Ellen's shock decision to end the show, there was one slightly awkward moment between the hosts.

Oprah mostly asked her friend of 25 years questions like “How are you actually feeling? How are you really feeling?” But she eventually also touched on the fact that all of the show's staff would soon be out of work.

“When you have a large staff as you do, and as I did, that staff becomes your family. These are your tribe; these are your people. You would not be who you are without those people doing the work that a lot of people don’t recognise is going on behind the scenes,” Oprah said of the guilt she felt ending The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011 after 25 seasons.

“You often don’t think, as I often didn’t think, when you’re looking at people: Car insurance, mortgages, college educations being paid … for everybody on that staff, they have built their financial life, their family life, based on this show. For me, that was hard too."

Ellen, however, appeared visibly uncomfortable discussing the staff, looking off camera and fidgeting with her hands, all the while remaining silent. Oprah moved the conversation along before the awkward moment was interrupted by a commercial break.

ellen degeneres
Ellen appeared to visibly squirm when Oprah mentioned her staff. Photo: Ellentube

It was Today's Savannah Guthrie who was left to address the toxic workplace allegations and ratings slide, during a subsequent interview with the host.

Ellen remained adamant the controversy and ratings slide were not factors in her decision, noting that if she was still "having fun, I would do this show with nobody watching." 

However, she admitted the personal attacks hit hard, and said they felt "orchestrated" and "coordinated." They also felt "very misogynistic."

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Ellen said on Today that if she was quitting over the toxic workplace allegations, "I would have not come back this year" for season 18. However, she admitted, "I really did think about not coming back, because it was devastating. It started with attacks on me and attacking everything that I stand for and believe in and built my career around... I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy."

She also said ending the show has nothing to do with losing one million viewers amid the scandal.

"Everything in television is down," Ellen said of the ratings. "It's got nothing to do with why I'm leaving. If I was having fun, I would do this show with nobody watching." 

As for the steep ratings decline, "We had further to fall. Everybody else was at a lower place, so they didn't have as far to fall. To be honest. I mean, that's the truth. We were very, very successful."

Ellen also said she had "no idea" her employees had allegedly been subjected to racism, sexual harassment and intimidation behind the scenes until she read about it in the news. She pointed out there are 225 show employees in "a lot of different buildings." 

However, "It's my name on the show, so clearly it affects me, and I have to be the one to stand up and say this can't be tolerated. But I do wish somebody would have come to me and said, 'hey, something's going on that you should know about.'" (Three producers were fired amid the investigation.)

As the whole thing blew up, people started sharing Ellen horror stories on social media and calling for her cancellation, which Ellen said hurt deeply.

"I really didn't understand it, I still don't understand it," she said, claiming that "it was too orchestrated, it was too coordinated," but not indicating by whom. She added, "Also I have to say — if nobody else was saying it — it was really interesting because I'm a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic."

Ellen DeGeneres with Today's Savannah Guthrie
Ellen DeGeneres sat down with Today's Savannah Guthrie in her first TV interview since announcing the end of her talk show. (Photo: NBC NEWS / TODAY)

Ellen added "people get picked on," but "for four months straight" she was the target "when all I've ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is." She admitted it "took a toll on me."

She continued, "No, I'm not bulletproof. And no, I don't have thick skin. I'm extremely sensitive to the point of it's not healthy how sensitive I am."

The interview took place after Ellen recorded her emotional monologue announcing the news on her show.

 Speaking to her viewers, she broke down in tears, saying "The past 18 years have changed my life. You’ve changed my life. And I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing, sometimes crying. This show has been the greatest experience of my life and I owe it all to you."

Watch Ellen's monologue announcing the end of her talk show:

Additional reporting by Suzy Byrne.

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