Former Ellen DeGeneres Show Producer Recalls "Culture of Fear" at Talk Show

Former Ellen DeGeneres Show producer Hedda Muskat came forward and shared her experience working on the Emmy-winning daytime talk show.

By Mike Vulpo Aug 03, 2020 6:38 PMTags

A former Ellen DeGeneres Show producer is speaking out and sharing her experience working on the daytime series.

In a new piece for The Wrap, Hedda Muskat recalled behind hired in 2003 when the show was still in development.

But within a year and a half of joining, Muskat says she was sidelined in favor of a younger male producer. According to Muskat, she slowly received less responsibility like writing her own segments and appearing on set to greet and prepare the guests she had booked. 

"One day I get called into the office," Muskat recalled. "[Producer] Ed [Glavin] says to me, ‘You know, Hedda, we're really loving your segments. I don't know how you do it. We're going to need all your sources.' I've worked 18 years to build those sources. Those sources are why you hired me."

After she refused, Muskat said, "I felt a turn, that I was really on everybody's s--t list."

The Ellen DeGeneres Show Producers Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Former Employees

Another incident Muskat remembers is a staff meeting where new employees were introduced. According to Muskat, Glavin openly screamed at a crew member in front of the entire room.

Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

"He just went off on them," she alleged. "His whole face turned red…We were stunned. You could just see everybody's faces go stiff. We're professionals; we're adults. We don't need a dog to get us to do our jobs." 

Muskat would later describe her days working on the show as a "culture of fear." She was eventually let go in May 2004 just days before The Ellen DeGeneres Show won Outstanding Talk Show at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

E! News has reached out to Glavin for comment regarding Muskat's claims and has not heard back.

Celebs With Talk Shows

Just last month, Glavin along with executive producers Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner responded to claims made by former employees who spoke to BuzzFeed News anonymous about a "toxic work environment." 

"We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It's not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen Show is completely on us," the statement read in part. "We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."

Two former employees, who spoke to E! News anonymously, offered differing perspectives of the work environment.

According to one source, "I did not see anything out of the norm. There were definitely inappropriate things said. I wasn't ever offended. I never felt any malice. I don't really have anything dramatic or outstanding in my time there."

Another insider, however, provided a different perspective. "Behind the scenes, hours are long, employees are stressed and there's nobody in power to go to for support...People are coming forward in hopes current employees are treated better."

Last week, Ellen DeGeneres also wrote a letter to her staff promising changes were coming after Warner Bros. began conducting an internal investigation of workplace misconduct.

"On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness—no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case," Ellen wrote in part. "For that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it's the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show."

"As we've grown exponentially, I've not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I'd want them done. Clearly some didn't," Ellen continued. "That will now change and I'm committed to ensuring this does not happen again."

In a previous statement to E! News, Warner Bros. affirmed their commitment to addressing the accusations of workplace misconduct, which were being determined through interviews conducted with current and former staff members.

"It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world," the statement read in part. "And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show's day-to-day management. We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them."

They concluded, "We are confident this course of action will lead us to the right way forward for the show."