A senior executive of Australia’s Today show says he was told not to look at or speak to Ellen DeGeneres when she appeared on the programme.
Neil Breen, who now presents his own show radio show, said Ellen’s staff were the only ones who were allowed to interact with her – and they ‘walked on eggshells’, laughing so loudly at her jokes during the interview that he had to tell them to be quiet when she appeared in 2013.
He added that Ellen’s people dictated everything – from seating, to lighting, to how the interview would work – adding that he found the whole situation ‘bizarre’.
He spoke out as the 62-year-old American chat show host, whose philosophy is ‘be kind’, faces an investigation over allegations of racism, bullying and a ‘toxic environment’ behind the scenes of her show.
Breen told 4BC, the radio station where he is now a host, that Ellen was initially supposed to co-host the Today show during her tour of Australia seven years ago, but the plan was continually changed and watered down by her team.
Eventually, it was agreed that Ellen would do a sit-down interview with entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins in Melbourne – meaning production had to be moved there from Sydney at the show’s expense, Breen said.
Breen said that he and Wilkins arrived at ‘one of the plush hotels in Melbourne’ on the day of the interview to find ‘a lot of people’ from Ellen’s team waiting for them.
‘The producer called us aside and said, “Now Neil, no one is to talk to Ellen. You don’t talk to her, you don’t approach her, you don’t look at her,”‘ he said.
‘”She’ll come in, she’ll sit down, she’ll talk to Richard and then Ellen will leave.” And I sort of said, “Are you fair dinkum? I can’t look at her?” I found the whole thing bizarre,’ he added.
During the interview itself, Breen had to ask Ellen’s staff to stop laughing at her jokes because it was interrupting the recording.
Breen said he had no idea whether Ellen knew what was happening around her, ‘because I never got to talk to her’.
‘I have no idea whether she’s a nice person or not, I wouldn’t have a clue,’ he added. ‘But I can tell you the people who work with her walked on eggshells the whole time.
‘We’re there to do an interview to promote what she’s doing, but you can’t look at her? Someone get real.’
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Source: Daily Mail