Long before the “toxic work culture” at The Ellen DeGeneres Show was being officially investigated by Warner Bros. Television, staffers there, at TMZ and at The Rosie O’Donnell Show say the cultures were famous for allowing bad behavior thrive, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A new investigation delves into some of the details and the culture at Telepictures, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. that produces Ellen and TMZ, and produced Rosie until it was canceled in 2002.
“What you had at Ellen are showrunners who came from notoriously toxic environments,” says a former Telepictures producer who worked at the company in the early 2000s, “so what resulted was the worst of all those worlds. A place where the EPs cater to the host, restrict virtually every other staffer’s access to the host, and then make you work 80- to 90-hour weeks almost for sport 'because that’s what they had to do.' ”
Among the allegations made anonymously to THR: “verbal abuse; frequent and unwarranted firings (and, conversely, vague contracts that made it difficult to leave); overworking; instances of gender discrimination; absent or ineffective human resources departments; and nepotism.”
In a statement to THR, WarnerMedia says: “We are hopeful that our industry has finally reached a turning point and recognizes that behavior that may have been tolerated decades ago simply can no longer be accepted. To that end, we take all allegations of abuse or discrimination seriously, regardless of time frame, and will investigate these claims.”
Since Warner Bros. launched an investigation, three top execs have been fired, DeGeneres apologized and several changes were made to the benefits and vacation plan.
At TMZ, female employees said they were discriminated against.
“A thousand percent, founder Harvey Levin gives men preferential treatment,” says Bernadette Zilio, who appeared on camera on TMZ on TV. “The running joke is that when a girl speaks, he doesn’t look in your direction. It’s like he doesn’t see you. He really only listens to what the guys have to say. It’s always sexist and disgusting and just offensive.”
There were broader cultural problems at Telepictures, according to THR, where execs frequently made racially charged remarks.
The Real, one source told THR, was referred to by some execs during the early development process as “the down-market View” or “the ghetto View” (a second source at the Telepictures offices at this time corroborated this observation). “It was definitely an environment where I was, to my face and about me, told some of the most racist things I’ve encountered in my career,” the Telepictures corporate office employee said.