Ellen DeGeneres’s dismal 2020—a year in which her nice-lady persona was threatened by allegations of toxicity and harassment on the set of her daytime talk show—was almost over when the year took one last parting shot: a positive COVID-19 test result.
DeGeneres tweeted the unfortunate news Thursday, writing, “Hi, everyone. I want to let you all know that I tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, I’m feeling fine right now. Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines. I’ll see you after the holidays. Please stay healthy and safe.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 10, 2020
As USA Today reports, The Ellen DeGeneres Show is on pause until January while Ellen recovers from the infection.
DeGeneres spent much of the summer trying her hand at damage control, but the damage was unrelenting at times. In July, she was forced to fire three top producers who employees said had turned the set of the daytime talk show into a hell zone where sexual harassment “runs rampant.”
Head writer and executive producer Kevin Lehman was accused of groping, kissing, and touching staffers, and of asking one worker to “give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom.” Fellow E.P. Ed Glavin allegedly had a “reputation for being handsy with women,” including inappropriate touching—particularly when women were working in the show’s control room—while producer Jonathan Norman was accused of having “groomed” a male staffer and attempting to perform oral sex on him.
Lehman and Norman have denied the charges, while Glavin has not addressed them.
After canning the producers, DeGeneres offered a tearful apology to her show team, saying, “I’m hearing that some people felt that I wasn’t kind or too short with them, or too impatient,” and promising, “I try to be the best person I can be and I try to learn from my mistakes.”
Sadly, grim tales of unpleasantness followed DeGeneres back to her secluded Montecito estate in September, where household workers accused her of setting little “traps” for them to see if they were working when she did not have eyes on the staff.
Things only got worse later that month when DeGeneres kicked off her 18th season only to see her first week ratings plummet by 37 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
Ellen did enjoy a bright spot last month when she won the E! People’s Choice Award for best daytime talk show.
“Thank you, from deep down in my heart,” she told the virtual audience, and thanked her “amazing crew and amazing staff who make this show possible.”
DeGeneres also expressed her gratitude to her fans for “sticking by” her.
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am and what this means to me,” Ellen said. “It’s more than I can possibly tell you. Especially right now.”
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