Ellen DeGeneres' crew complains of pay cuts during Covid-19 shutdown
According to insiders, DeGeneres kept set employees in the dark only to reveal a 60% cut later
Crew from Ellen DeGeneres' revered show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, are distressed due to being neglected by the producers of the show, reported Variety.
According to sources, from late March to April, core stage crew members, including lighting personnel, camera operators and grips, were not contacted about if and how much they would be paid.
More than 30 employees were kept in the dark and denied any written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or shown any concern about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month, said two sources - both of them preferred to remain anonymous.
One of the sources revealed that even when the higher-ups would answer their phone calls, they would reveal little or no information. What further ticked them off was the fact that the show hired an outside, non-union tech company, Key Code Media, to help DeGeneres tape episodes remotely from her California home.
Production execs finally contacted the employees last week only to convey the news that they should expect a 60% reduction in pay, even as the show continues to air, according to sources close to the matter.
"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," said a Warner Bros. spokesperson, maintaining that the crew has been paid consistently.
They also admitted that the communication could have been better, citing the issue to complications caused by Covid-19.
Despite their claims, longtime crew maintains that there has been a complete lack of transparency from the show's execs and DeGeneres herself - even as she wrings out five episodes per week, instead of the usual four.
To put it in perspective: majority of the crew members were unaware that DeGeneres had set up a remote set at her residence, something they found through social media posts from colleagues in other departments who have been kept on-board.
Returning to air on April 7, DeGeneres said how she “wanted to start doing my new show as soon as possible," adding specifically that it was for “my staff and crew. I love them, I miss them, the best thing I can do to support them is to keep the show on the air.” The reality however seems to be a stark opposite.
In contrast, Jimmy Kimmel Live! stage hands were paid from Kimmel’s himself during the initial shutdown, as confirmed by two insiders. DeGeneres herself is one of the highest-paid stars on television - her total net worth is a reported $330 million.
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