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The Ellen Show Stage Crew Is Outraged Over a Lack of Communication During Shutdown

Ellen DeGeneres, from the show’s “at home” set in her living room. Photo: The Ellen Show/YouTube

Crew members from The Ellen DeGeneres Show are not happy about the treatment they’ve received from executives throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Variety. Sources from the crew say that after weeks of receiving very little info, they were told to brace for a 60 percent pay cut last week. Two anonymous sources maintained that they received no written communication informing them about their working hours and pay for over two weeks. A Warner Bros. spokesperson acknowledged that communication could have been better, but cited chaos due to coronavirus complications. It didn’t help that Ellen hired an outside, non-union tech company, Key Code Media, to tape DeGeneres’s remote shows from her home in California. DeGeneres’s own crew, many of whom have the same skills and have been on the show since the pilot 17 years ago, are all affiliated with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union. According to sources, only four original crew members currently work on the remote show. (The studio told Variety the hire was cleared by union reps, although IATSE did not immediately comment.) As of April 10, the crew was told they’d see compensation reduced to two eight-hour days per week.

Elsewhere on television, Jimmy Kimmel reportedly paid his Jimmy Kimmel Live! stagehands out of his own pocket during initial coronavirus shutdowns and since returning to air, ABC pays their full rates. Sources told Variety that the crews on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, and Desus & Mero have also all received their full rates, although spokespeople declined to comment. DeGeneres, who earns $50 million from her deal with producer Telepictures, stressed the importance of returning to air for her “staff and crew” in her first remotely produced show on April 7. “I love them, I miss them,” she said. “The best thing I can do to support them is to keep the show on the air.”

The Ellen Show Crew Is Outraged Over a Lack of Communication