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Ellen DeGeneres Will End Her Daytime Talk Show In 2022

May 12, 2021
Originally published on May 13, 2021 7:13 am

TV host Ellen DeGeneres is pulling the plug on her successful daytime TV variety/comedy/talk show at the end of this season. For more than 18 years, she has famously danced with her guests and the audience, played games and pranks with them and given away prizes. She has interviewed everyone from Hollywood A-listers to precocious children. But now, she and Warner Brothers Television have said The Ellen DeGeneres Show will end in 2022.

"When you're a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged," DeGeneres told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview, "and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore."

She'll be talking about her decision on her show today. And tomorrow, she'll sit down with friend and guest Oprah Winfrey to talk some more.

"Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that the truly great things never will," said Mike Darnell, the president of Warner Brothers Unscripted Television, in a statement. He said DeGeneres' show "started as the little program that could and became an absolute phenomenon. Over the years, it established itself as the premiere destination for both superstars and incredible heartfelt human interest stories. The show and Ellen brought comedy, joy, happiness, comfort (and dancing!) to countless millions every day for 18 years. It was and is an indelible piece of the television landscape, and it will be sorely missed."

The standup comedian began her talk show in 2003, five years after coming out on her sitcom, Ellen, and announcing on the cover of Time Magazine: "Yep, I'm Gay." For that, President Barack Obama bestowed on her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She's won the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and her television show has earned daytime Emmy awards.

"In sharp contrast to her public image as everyone's good friend, happy to listen, she presents herself — with tongue in cheek — as cartoonishly aloof and indifferent, stuck in a privileged bubble, cracking several jokes, for instance, about her fabulous wealth," The New York Times wrote in a profile of DeGeneres. In the article, her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, encouraged her to move away from her talk show. "I just think she's such a brilliant actress and stand-up that it doesn't have to be this talk show for her creativity," de Rossi said. "There are other things she could tackle." But DeGeneres said her brother, and Warner Brothers executives, urged her to stay on, saying the audience needed her positivity on TV every day. She signed a new contract.

But last year, former and current staffers who remained anonymous claimed that the show was a toxic workplace. They told Buzzfeed they experienced racist comments, fear and intimidation on set, and some alleged they were sexually harassed by the show's producers. WarnerMedia investigated, and fired three of the show's executive producers and the head writer. DeGeneres, who based her persona on urging people to "be kind," apologized to her staff. In a memo, she wrote that "she intended for her show to be a place where 'no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect."

The Ellen Show / YouTube

She opened her 18th season in September with an apology to her audience. "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously," she said. "I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show."

DeGeneres said the show was starting a new chapter. "My intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's the case, I have let myself down and I've hurt myself as well because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life is an opportunity to learn. I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good. That's that's my favorite thing to do that. And Jinga."

Warner Brothers says DeGeneres will still continue on Fox's The Masked Dancer, NBC's Ellen's Game of Games and HBO Max's Ellen's Next Great Designer. Her Ellen Digital Ventures includes more than 60 original series, including Momsplaining with Kristin Bell. She is also producing documentaries and specials for Discovery, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, she is hoping for more acting roles and time for her conservation efforts.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Big news in daytime television - Ellen DeGeneres says she's calling it quits on her show next year. She has hosted it since 2003. Here's NPR's Mandalit del Barco.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TODAY'S THE DAY")

PINK: (Singing) Today's the day I've been waiting for...

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: On her variety comedy talk show, host Ellen DeGeneres dances with her guests. She plays games, pulls pranks and gives away cash prizes to her audience. She interviews Hollywood A-listers like Jennifer Aniston and Ryan Gosling.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

RYAN GOSLING: Just hanging out.

ELLEN DEGENERES: Yeah, just have a conversation.

GOSLING: We don't, like, take it seriously, you know.

DEGENERES: No.

GOSLING: ...We're just people hanging out.

DEGENERES: Just like, why don't people talk like this more often on talk shows?

DEL BARCO: And she presents and talks to talented young children.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

DEGENERES: Do you get scared of falling ever, Emma (ph)?

EMMA: No, 'cause then we get back up.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I'm meeting Ellen. Your hair's soft.

DEGENERES: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: DeGeneres broke the news that she's ending her show in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter yesterday. She said, quote, "As great as this show is and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

DEGENERES: I always knew in my heart that Season 19 would be my last.

DEL BARCO: In the opening monologue of her show that will air later today, she says it was the greatest experience of her life.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

DEGENERES: My instinct told me it's time. As a comedian, I have always understood the importance of (pause) timing. And...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DEGENERES: In all seriousness, I truly have felt like next season was the right time to end this amazing chapter. In...

DEL BARCO: On her show today, she may reveal more when she sits down for a conversation with her friend and guest Oprah Winfrey.

The stand-up comedian began her talk show five years after coming out on her sitcom "Ellen" and stating on the cover of Time magazine, yep, I'm gay. That, in part, is why former President Barack Obama gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Over its run, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" earned a dozen Daytime Emmys for best entertainment talk show. But Nielsen ratings plummeted, and the show lost almost half its viewers after former and current staffers revealed a toxic work environment, racist comments, fear, intimidation on set. Some alleged they'd been sexually harassed by the show's producers. Warner Media investigated and fired three top producers, one the head writer. Afterwards, DeGeneres apologized to her staff in a memo and on air to her TV audience.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

DEGENERES: I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. And I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." I am Ellen DeGeneres.

DEL BARCO: DeGeneres built her upbeat show and her goofy, affable persona around urging people to be kind.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

DEGENERES: I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good. That's my favorite thing to do - that and Jenga.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGENERES: I love that game.

DEL BARCO: DeGeneres will continue to appear on various TV shows on Fox, NBC and HBO Max. With her production company, she'll still produce documentaries for Discovery, but her daytime talk show is going dark.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Mandalit del Barco on NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.