Ellen DeGeneres on Ending Her Show and Allegations of Workplace Toxicity: 'I Still Don't Understand It'

The TV personality appeared on Today Thursday morning, one day after announcing that The Ellen DeGeneres Show will conclude after the upcoming 19th season

Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about her decision to end her eponymous talk show after its upcoming season 19.

During Thursday morning's episode of Today, the TV personality sat down with anchor Savannah Guthrie to discuss the news, which she publicly announced Wednesday in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. DeGeneres, 63, noted on Today that she was "glad that before it leaked, I got to tell my staff and my crew, from my own words — that they didn't hear it anyplace else."

"Because I haven't been sleeping. I've been trying to anticipate how to tell them and hope that everybody would take it okay," she added. "A lot of people were very emotional. I got emotional."

"Did you feel like you were being canceled?" Guthrie, 49, asked the actress and comedian of the controversy that engulfed the show last year following allegations of workplace toxicity.

"I really didn't understand it; I still don't understand it," DeGeneres said. "It was too orchestrated; it was too coordinated."

<a href="https://people.com/tag/ellen-degeneres/" data-inlink="true">Ellen DeGeneres</a> says toxic workplace controversy not the reason she’s ending her show
Today Show Twitter

"People get picked on but for four months straight for me, and then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I've ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is, and what a happy place it is," she continued.

As for whether she was leaving due to the controversy, DeGeneres said, "If that was why I was quitting, I would've not come back this year. I really did think about not coming back because it was devastating."

"I am a kind person," she continued. "I am a person who likes to make people happy."

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DeGeneres will also address her decision on Thursday's episode of her show during a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey.

In her interview with THR announcing the news, she said in part, "When you're a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore."

"Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will," added Warner Bros.' unscripted TV president Mike Darnell.

The announcement came almost a year after the show became embroiled in controversy last summer amid allegations of workplace toxicity, prompting an internal investigation.

In July, BuzzFeed News published a report in which current and former staffers spoke anonymously about their experiences on set, which included claims of being penalized for taking medical leave, instances of racial microaggressions and fear of retribution for raising complaints.

DeGeneres apologized to her staff at the time, and three top producers — Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman — subsequently parted ways with the show. Staffers on the show also received increased benefits.

The host told THR that while the controversy "almost impacted" her show, it was not the reason behind her decision to end it.

"It was very hurtful to me. I mean, very. But if I was quitting the show because of that, I wouldn't have come back this season," she said.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/ellen-degeneres/" data-inlink="true">Ellen DeGeneres</a> Season 18
Ellen DeGeneres. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

DeGeneres, who addressed the scandal with viewers during the season 18 premiere last September, said the situation "destroyed" her.

"With the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion and everything I stand for was being attacked," she said. "So, it destroyed me, honestly. I'd be lying if I said it didn't."

Still, DeGeneres told Guthrie on Thursday that she's "proud" of the show and the legacy it will leave behind.

"I'm most proud of going 19 years on this show. I mean, this is an accomplishment," she said. "I'm proud of the kind of show we do. I'm proud that we are funny. I'm proud that we are helpful to people, and that we represent acts of kindness in highlighting people that we want to say, 'Look at this person doing good.'"

Ellen airs weekdays (check local listings). The 19th and final season will premiere Sep. 13.

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