After months of negative press, Ellen DeGeneres pledged to make a fresh start as she kicked off a new season of her eponymous talk show on Monday.
“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment on our show, and then there was an investigation,” she said. “I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say that I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
Many of the claims had been directed at executive producers and senior managers rather than DeGeneres herself, but she acknowledged that she is “in a position of privilege and power” and took full responsibility.
“We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for our future,” she said. “We have made the necessary changes, and today, we are starting a new chapter.”
“Being known as the ‘Be Kind Lady’ is a tricky position to be in,” DeGeneres joked while addressing the toll that the controversy had taken on her reputation. “The truth is, I am that person 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.”
Watch Ellen DeGeneres’ Season 18 premiere monologue below.
The Season 18 premiere of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which was originally slated for Sept. 9, follows an internal investigation by Warner Bros. Television. The probe began in July, after BuzzFeed published two lengthy articles in which current and former “Ellen” staffers alleged they’d been subjected to intimidation, racism and sexual misconduct while working on the show.
DeGeneres — who was “crushed” by the reports, a source told People — apologized to her employees in a widely circulated memo. By August, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, along with co-executive producer Jonathan Norman, had left the show.
Speculation as to how the host would address the claims when “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” returned (without a live audience) was rampant in the weeks leading up to the new season’s premiere.
DeGeneres said Monday that she hoped the show could “still be a place of happiness and joy” for viewers grappling with both the coronavirus crisis and a divisive political climate.
“I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh,” she said. “I want to continue to help all the people that we help every day, and I am committed to making this the best season that we’ve ever had.”