Ellen DeGeneres show crew members upset over lack of communication about pay cuts during coronavirus shutdown
Ellen DeGeneres' crew members were told last week to brace for a 60 per cent reduction in pay, even while it was being shot from DeGeneres’ residence.
The crew members of The Ellen Show are reportedly upset with host Ellen DeGeneres and the producers for not treating them properly amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to Variety, the show’s core stage crew of more than 30 people were kept in dark about issues like pay and working hours for over a month, while it was being shot from DeGeneres’ residence.
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The crew is also upset after they found out that the network has hired a non-union tech company to help DeGeneres broadcast daily from her home.
Two sources who spoke with the outlet on the condition of anonymity revealed that they received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month.
When they contacted the “higher-ups in production”, they received very little information. When executives finally spoke with them, nearly all crew members were told last week to brace for a 60 per cent reduction in pay, even as the show continues to air.
“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,” a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Television, which distributes the show, told Variety.
The show halted production in March due to concerns over COVID-19. DeGeneres returned with the show on April 6, filming it from her home. She was recently under fire for her joke that quarantine is like being in a prison.
The show typically tapes four days per week. The last episode filmed was on 9 March and the crew was reportedly paid in full for the week of 16 March. The week of 23 March was a pre-planned spring break hiatus.
After coming back from their break, the crew was told that their pay was reportedly reduced from 10 hours per day to 8 hours. Last Friday, they were informed that going forward they would be paid for two 8-hour work days per week.
To make matter worse, the crew was shocked to find out that DeGeneres had a remote set erected at her residence where she was taping. They got to know about it through social media posts from colleagues in other departments. They also found out that third-party company, Key Code Media, has been hired to help produce the show from DeGeneres’ residence while her usual crew was left to sit idle with reduced pay and unanswered questions about their job security.
A representative of Warner Bros. said no one from the crew has lost their job after the hiring of Key Code. It added that the company was roped in to “comply with city ordinances and public health protocols”. DeGeneres reportedly has a net worth of USD 490 million and an annual salary of around USD 75 million.
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