Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinsetown’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Last week in The Politics of HollyWeird, we talked about The Ellen DeGeneres Show and claims of a toxic work environment. Now it looks like the talk show host might be throwing in the towel, unwilling to deal with so many former and current employees, who wished to remain anonymous, laying heaps of blame at her feet. Accusations of bullying of employees were aimed at three top executive producers — Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin, and Andy Lassner — and allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were directed at other high-level staff. The accusers say Ellen is responsible because she knew what was going on and didn’t do anything about it.
“The behavior of her show executives has been appalling, but [Ellen] is no better,” one person told the Daily Mail. “In fact, she is the worst. It’s outrageous that she is trying to pretend that this is all a shock to her. The fish rots from the head, and Ellen is the head.”
Ellen replied to her employees in a memo last month, apologizing and promising to take steps to improve the situation:
“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. And for that, I am sorry.”
The memo continued with Ellen explaining she had not been aware of the goings-on, but now that she was, things would be different:
“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. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”
However, the anonymous tattlers say the “Be Kind” hostess was insincere and likely will seek those who spoke out against her. “Don’t think for a second that there won’t be a witch hunt to find out who went public with the worst kept secret in television,” one person warned. “Ellen is mean. She’ll want vengeance for all of this coming out.”
Not everyone is so quick to blame Ellen; the #IstandByEllen movement is gaining traction as actors and fans come out in support of the show and its host. Actor-comedian Kevin Hart said on his Instagram account: “It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly,” and singer Katy Perry praised Ellen’s “continual fight for equality.”
The accusations multiply, however, becoming more lethal to the show’s and Ellen’s personal reputation. Co-executive producer Jonathan Norman has been accused of grooming a former male employee by giving him gifts, taking him to concerts, and then trying to perform oral sex on him. Kevin Leman, the head writer and executive producer, is alleged to have solicited oral sex from at least one employee and others say he has been seen groping staff. Former employees have said Glavin “had a reputation for being handsy with women.”
Should Ellen throw in the towel? That’s a hard decision to make in today’s forgive-not world where a whisper of impropriety can destroy a reputation without so much as a shred of proof. However, with the list of accusations growing, a graceful bow out might be her best option.
The Matrix Comes Out: It Was a Trans Story All Along
The Matrix hit the big screens in 1999 and became an instant blockbuster. Actor Keanu Reeves thrilled the audience with his flexibility while dodging bullets and his ability to see beyond the computerized mirage the rest of the world saw. While some may have guessed, it was only just recently that co-director Lilly Wachowski admitted the film represented a trans life trying to emerge from the closet.
“I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention,” she said. “The corporate world wasn’t ready for it.” Lilly and her sister/co-director Lana are both transgender, and in the 21 years since the film’s release, they had yet to divulge the secret. Lana revealed she was trans in 2010 and Lilly in 2016, and since then, questions on the transgender bend of the movie began.
In the movie, the matrix represents the closet and the blindness or unwillingness of society to see inside. Those brave souls swallowing the red pill will become “woke” and take the first step out of the closet. Originally, Lilly explained, the character Switch, which was played by actress Belinda McClory, was supposed to be a woman in the matrix and a male in the real world.
“I don’t know how present my transness was in the background of my brain as we were writing it,” Lilly said. “We were always living in a world of imagination. That’s why I gravitated toward sci-fi and fantasy and played Dungeons and Dragons. It was all about creating worlds. It freed us up as filmmakers because we were able to imagine stuff at that time that you didn’t necessarily see onscreen.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.