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Crew members from Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show were reportedly left with few answers about their pay and employment amid the coronavirus shutdown, as the host began doing shows from her home without them.
After the show halted production in March due to concerns over COVID-19, Ellen returned on April 6, now filming from the comfort of her home, which she joked was more like a prison under quarantine.
According to a new report from Variety, the more than 30 employees who make up the stage crew for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” were not given any formal communication about the status of the show, their working hours or pay for more than a month after regular production was shut down. According to two unnamed sources, those who were able to get through to higher-ups via phone were not given any concrete answers as to what was happening.
Representatives for Warner Bros. TV, which distributes the show, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
However, speaking to Variety, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. TV explained that while communication could have been better, caring for cast and crew members on its productions is a top priority.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
Variety notes that the show typically tapes four days per week. The last episode filmed was on March 9 and the crew was reportedly paid in full for the week of March 16. The week of March 23 was a pre-planned spring break hiatus.
“When returning from break, the crew was paid the week of March 30th despite having no firm plans for production to resume,” the spokesperson said. However, the outlet reports that pay was reduced to eight hours per work day from 10.
After two weeks of hearing almost nothing about pay, crew members for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” were reportedly finally told by executives last week to brace for a reduction in pay of two eight-hour days per week.
As if the two weeks of uncertainty wasn’t enough, it soon came to light that a non-union, third-party company, Key Code Media, was hired to help produce the show from the comedian’s home while her usual crew was left to sit idle with reduced pay and unanswered questions about their job security.
The anxiety of her staff is in direct contrast to what DeGeneres said upon returning to air after halting production for those weeks.
“I wanted to start doing my new show as soon as possible because it's really for people who are stuck at home. Especially my staff and crew, I love them, I miss them and the best thing I can do to support them is to keep the show on the air, so here we are,” DeGeneres said during the opening monologue of the first show hosted from her home.
However, due to the reduced pay, Warner Bros. TV noted that no one lost their job as a result of Key Code Media being hired.