Crew members for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” are outraged at how producers of the long-running daytime program are treating them amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.
The core stage crew of the popular TV show hasn’t received any official written communication about how the COVID-19 crisis would affect their jobs, Variety reports.
Two sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told the publication that the show’s producers haven’t answered the group’s inquiries on employment status or payment.
One of the sources added that their bosses would occasionally answer phone calls, but without revealing much. The situation became even more aggravating after the group heard that the show hired Key Code Media — an outside, non-union tech firm — to help DeGeneres tape her show from home, as the entertainment industry adapts to follow California’s mandatory stay-at-home order.
Only four core crew members are working on the at-home taping of the show. Last week, nearly all employees were told to brace for a 60% pay cut, even though the show remains on the air. The core stage crew consists of more than 30 people.
Warner Bros. Television, which distributes the show, told Variety that employees have been paid regularly, but at reduced hours. “Our executive producers and Telepictures are committed to taking care of our staff and crew and have made decisions first and foremost with them in mind,” a spokesperson said.
Warner Bros. also acknowledged that it could have done a better job communicating with employees, but partly blamed the chaos caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The last episode taped in the studio took place the week of March 9, and the crew was paid in full for the week of March 16. They weren’t supposed to work the following week, which had already been scheduled as a spring break hiatus. After their break, “the crew was paid the week of March 30 despite having no firm plans for production to resume,” the spokesperson added.
Pay was reduced from 10 to 8 hours per work day for that week. As of April 10, crew members were told to expect a reduced compensation of two days per week, the unnamed sources told Variety.
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Later, employees were reportedly shocked to find out — through social media — about the show’s virtual set in DeGeneres’ home.
Warner Bros. said that no crew member lost their job with the hiring of Key Code, which was hired “to comply with city ordinances and public health protocols.”
The show returned to the air after a three-week-hiatus the week of April 7. DeGeneres was fiercely criticized for a joke she cracked during the first return show in which she compared self-quarantining — with her wife Portia de Rossi in the couple’s Architectural Digest-ready mansion — to being in jail.
The LGBTQ icon and comedian-turned-daytime-queen is one of the highest-paid stars on television. She earns more than $50 million per year from her Telepictures deal, with a reported net worth of $330 million.