Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about her decision to end her long-running show after the 19th season and the toxic workplace drama that plagued the embattled host.
One day after DeGeneres publicly announced on Wednesday, May 12, that The Ellen DeGeneres Show was coming to an end, she discussed the bombshell news on the Thursday, May 13, episode of Today. She told anchor Savannah Guthrie that she was "glad that before [the news] leaked, I got to tell my staff and my crew, from my own words — that they didn't hear it anyplace else."
The comedian admitted she hasn't "been sleeping" because she's been "trying to anticipate how to tell them and hope[d] that everybody would take it okay."
"A lot of people were very emotional. I got emotional," she candidly said.
When asked if DeGeneres felt she was being "canceled" after the toxic workplace allegations made last summer engulfed the show and her reputation, the 63-year-old candidly said she still doesn't understand where the series of claims came from. "I really didn't understand it; I still don't understand it," DeGeneres insisted. "It was too orchestrated; it was too coordinated."
DeGeneres — who was accused of turning a blind eye to the bullying by executives — insisted she's always been praised by guests for her positive atmosphere on the show.
DeGeneres shared her confusion over getting "picked on" for "four months straight" after the scandal played out in the press. "All I've ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is, and what a happy place it is," she told the anchor.
DeGeneres also reiterated that she was not leaving the show due to the string of allegations, which she previously stated in her interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the show's end. "If that was why I was quitting, I would've not come back this year," the embattled host claimed, admitting: "I really did think about not coming back because it was devastating."
Overall, DeGeneres is very appreciative of her once highly praised show and the legacy it will leave behind. "I'm most proud of going 19 years on this show. I mean, this is an accomplishment," she said. "I'm proud of the kind of show we do. I'm proud that we are funny."
DeGeneres continued: "I'm proud that we are helpful to people, and that we represent acts of kindness in highlighting people that we want to say, 'Look at this person doing good.'" To conclude, DeGeneres held onto the notion that she is a "kind person" who "liked to make people happy."
As OK! reported, during her interview to announce the show's ending, she explained: "When you're a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore." DeGeneres also said ending her show after season 19 was "the plan all along," noting she agreed to sign for another three years after season 16.
Warner Bros. TV Group chairman Channing Dungey added: “Ellen once said that all she ever wanted to do was make people feel good and laugh, and she has accomplished that and so much more."
The news came almost one year after the show came under fire following BuzzFeed News' report with current and former staffers sharing their experience on set.
Some of the claims included one staffer being fired for taking medical leave following a suicide attempt, instances of racial microagressions, and allegations that senior executives would grope and kiss staffers behind the scenes.
The report prompted an internal investigation and resulted in the firing of three top producers — Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman. At the time, DeGeneres apologized to her staff, who then received increased benefits. And while season 18, which premiered in September after the workplace controversy made headlines, was off to a strong start, the show has been on a swift decline ever since.