A former Today show boss has recalled a past interview between Richard Wilkins and Ellen DeGeneres, saying “the whole thing was totally bizarre”.
Neil Breen was the executive producer of the Channel 9 breakfast show back in 2013 when Ellen was visiting Australia on a promotional tour.
Now, Neil has opened up to listeners on his 4BC radio program about what went on behind the scenes of the interview - which took place in “one of the flash hotels Melbourne” - with the talk show host.
“They controlled everything,” he said of Ellen’s extensive team of producers, adding some of the strange demands they made before she had even entered the room.
“The producers called us aside and said, ‘OK, this is how it’s going to work here this morning. Ellen’s going to arrive at 10.15 and she’ll be sitting in this chair here and Richard you’ll be sitting in this chair here. Neil, no one is to talk to Ellen. You don’t talk to her, you don’t approach her, you don’t look at her. She’ll come in, she’ll sit down, she’ll talk to Richard and then Ellen will leave.’”
Neil recalled asking, “Are you fair dinkum? I can’t look at her?”
Neil went on to say even throughout the interview producers would giggle and laugh in the background forcing Richard to ask them to be quiet multiple times as the interview was being filmed.
And after everything was done and dusted, Neil said he couldn’t tell you if Ellen is a “nice person or not”.
“I’m not blaming Ellen, because I didn’t get to talk to her because I wasn’t allowed to, so I don’t know if she’s a nice person or not, I wouldn’t have a clue,” he said.
“But I can tell you, the people who worked with her walked on eggshells the whole time and the whole thing was totally bizarre.”
It comes after WarnerMedia is believed to have launched an internal investigation in the The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with a third party firm reportedly being hired to interview current and former staff about their experiences while working on the program.
Over the past few months, the show has been plagued by rumours and recently, a number of staff and former workers on the daytime talk show spoke out anonymously to Buzzfeed, slamming the reported mistreatment they experienced during their time at the show.
Allegations from current and former employees include claims of being fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days, facing microaggressions and a culture of bullying and favouritism by executive producers.